WIMBLEDON – Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens freely admits that she is an improbable semifinalist at Wimbledon
“I think I’m the most surprising name in the last four but I don’t really care!” said Flipkens, who was told twice by doctors that she stop playing tennis.” “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs throughout my career. I’ve had so many injuries,” Even after the juniors. I was the world junior champion (in 2003) and the year after I had a really bad back injury. All doctors said my career should have been over.”
In April 2012, Flipkens discovered that she had four blood clots in her leg, which put her at risk of a pulmonary embolism. Now she has to be on blood thinners when she flies longer than three hours. As a result of having to take some time off, her ranking dropped to No 262 last June. She could no longer afford a coach and the Belgian Tennis Federation also stopped supporting her.
“I was there all by myself but I never… lost belief in myself and my confidence in myself,” she said, but then added that being alone on tour and having to figure things out herself actually helped her on court. She working out former four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters’ academy.
In just a year’s time, the all courter’s ranking has jumped to No. 20. Last fall, she won her first singles title at Quebec City. This year, she reached the semifinals of Hobart, the fourth round of the Australian Open and was runner-up at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
Flipkens has tremendous amount of variety in her game: she can hit a wicked backhand slice and likes to charge the net, but she still wasn’t expected to knock off the like of 2011 champion Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.
She will go into her Thursday semifinal against 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli with a legitimate shot at the final.
“It’s a dream – more than a dream – coming true,” she said.
Here is a list of five more improbable Wimbledon semifinalist over the last 20 years.
2010 Tsvetana Pironkova
The tricky Bulgarian shocked 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli in the round of 16 and then confused Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. Armed with an impossible read forehand and the ability to keep the ball low, she eventually fell to Russian Vera Zvonareva in the semis. The 25 year old managed to reach the second week of Wimbledon the next year, but has only gotten past the second round of any other Grand Slam once, earning herself moniker grass court specialist.
1999 Alexandra Stevenson
Its rare to have two victual unknowns come out of the words work in the same year, but that what occurred when just two weeks out of high school the big serving daughter of NBA legend Julius Erving became the first woman qualifier in the Open Era to reach the semifinals, where she fell to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport. Stevenson would eventually crack the top 20, but a series of injuries began to derail her in 2004 and she has been playing in tennis’ minor leagues ever since.
1999 Mirjana Lucic
ON the other half of the 1999 Wimbledon draw, the 17- year-old Lucic powered past nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles before being stopped by seven time Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf in three sets in the semifinals. The Croatian went through a tough breakup with her intense father and coach, quit playing for a while but eventually came back and is still making a solid living as singles and doubles player.
1997 Anna Kournikova
The Russian teenager showed tremendous promise when she became only the second woman in the Open Era to reach the semifinals in her Wimbledon debut with an upset of fourth ranked Ivan Majoli in the quarterfinals. The starlet’s run that year is largely said to be responsible for starting the “Russian Revolution” in women’s tennis which eventually produced three Grand Slam winners and a slew of elite players. Kournikova herself never won a singles titles, but she did crack the top 10 and wo 16 doubles crowns.
1996 Meredith McGrath
This former Stanford standout badly injured her knee during the tournament, but still managed to play on, mixing her matching her way to the semifinals. She shocked seeded players Amanda Coetzer and Mary Joe Fernandez before falling to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She would only play three more tournaments before retiring.