In the midst of nerves and mixed emotions, Roger Federer and Marin Cilic shed tears for different reasons at some point on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in London on Sunday. The players went to battle and the winner would be crowned the 2017 Wimbledon Champion. Federer entered the match having already claimed 18 grand slam titles, which was the most by any male player in history. He added to his list of accomplishments making this Wimbledon his 19th, as he prevailed over Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. This is Federer’s 8th Wimbledon title and would have been Cilic’s first. Cilic holds one grand slam title, the 2014 U.S. Open. His profound achievement is largely overshadowed by Federer’s cabinet full. When Cilic won the U.S. Open in 2014, he took down Federer in the semi-finals in straight sets. That is Cilic’s only win over Federer. With yesterday’s win in London, Federer now leads the all time series versus Cilic 7 to 1. Federer was the favorite to win the match, as he is in almost every match he plays. Even so, no win is a guarantee and Federer still had to earn every point.
Though Cilic may have been an underdog, he played outstanding tennis to get to the final. Plus, Cilic had already knocked Federer out of a major before. Given that fact, a strong belief that Cilic could win surrounded the stadium as the players stepped on their stage. Once on court, however, Cilic seemed overwhelmed with emotions. His face showed sheer panic rather than determination. For spectators it was hard to not feel bad for him as he broke down in tears during a changeover in the second set. Commentators discussed whether his issue was physical or mental and spoke about his constant struggles to keep a positive frame of mind. When a trainer initially approached him, he did not receive any treatment. Instead, he continued to shed tears with his face buried deep into a towel. Later in the match he was given treatment for his left ankle, though he showed no obvious signs of ankle pain while playing. Commentators settled on believing that physical and mental factors alike contributed to Cilic’s inability to pull himself together. Whether his reason for crying was because his left ankle hurt him to an intense degree, he was upset with the poor timing of the injury, or because he was overwhelmed and disappointed about not performing up to his expectations, his reaction was raw. It displayed the heart and passion that goes into competing. He is at the top of the tennis world, competing in the final of tennis’ most prestigious tournament, yet he still could not seem to find a moment of tranquility that would allow him to play his game. Cilic revealed the emotional side of sports for everyone to see. His emotional display sheds light on the fact that even the best of the best struggle.
On the opposite side of the court we have Roger Federer. Per usual, he played with grace and made tennis seem effortless. Throughout the match he kept calm and composed, getting fired up upon winning big points, but quickly settling down and recapturing his focus. It was only when the match was completed and he took a seat that reality sank in. He shed his tears as he waved to his team in the crowd. He just claimed his 8th Wimbledon title. He continued to make history at the age of 35, a number that is considered high in tennis. In his post match interview, he announced that after he took 6 months off of tennis at the end of 2016, he did not know if he would ever get back to playing at such a high level of tennis again. He did not expect to win anything, he explained, which is why the championship means so much to him. He believes that the time off allowed him to play “fun tennis”, as he described it. His wife and four children watched from the stands, his young sons not having the slightest idea about what they just watched their father accomplish or why he might be crying with people from all over the world watching.