America’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered a horror knee injury at Wimbledon on Thursday which left her screaming and crying in pain in the middle of the court.
The 32-year-old collapsed to the ground after damaging her right knee as she approached the net in the first game of the deciding set against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea on Court 17.
“Please help me, please, please,” screamed the 32-year-old in scenes so distressing that television cameras panned away from the stricken player.
Cirstea said she had never seen such an injury.
“I freaked out. I have never seen such an injury before, the knee was really in a bad position. It was like something you see only in the movies,” said Cirstea.
“I tried to comfort her but I panicked. I felt useless. All she kept saying was ‘Sorana, help me, help me’. I wish I could have done more. You wouldn’t wish that on your worst enemy.”
Mattek-Sands’s husband Justin tried to console his wife as medics arrived, while Cirstea was distraught and in tears. After lying prone on the ground for around 20 minutes, Mattek-Sands was eventually stretchered away and taken to a west London hospital where she was said to have suffered “an acute knee injury”.
Mattek-Sands’s doubles partner, Lucie Safarova, with whom she shares the world number one ranking as well as four Grand Slam titles, also arrived at the scene in tears.
Cirstea, who had dropped the first set 4-6 but took the second 7-6 (4), was declared the winner of the second round match.
But she questioned why it took the medical services so long to react to her friend’s distress.
“I told them to bring a stretcher because everyone froze, nobody reacted,” added Cirstea who said only she, her physio and Justin Mattek-Sands initially raced to the player’s assistance. “She went into shock and it took so long for the medical team to arrive. It felt like forever.
“What if it was a heart attack. You should look at the video and time how long it took. I was there 10 to 15 minutes and the stretcher had still not arrived.”
Wimbledon issued a series of tweets with information on the response time from the medical team.
“The first response to Court 17 was within one minute, by a qualified ambulance technician,” read the statement from the tournament. The player was kept on court while pain relief was given. The player was then transferred directly to an ambulance and taken under emergency conditions to a hospital.”
Wimbledon courts are no stranger to injury controversies. In 2013, Victoria Azarenka fell heavily, hurting her ankle and blamed the state of the courts.
Maria Sharapova said the surface on Court Two where she lost to Michelle Larcher de Brito was “dangerous” after she fell a number of times. The 2004 champion required treatment on her hip as a result.
Players were also angry that the stadium microphones had not been switched off.
“Really wish they would turn the cameras and mics off on Bethanie’s court,” tweeted fellow American player Madison Keys as the shocking images and sounds of her compatriot were played out on the tournament TV screens.
No12 seed Kristina Mladenovic, who lost her second round to Alison Riske 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, walked into her press conference with an ice pack on her knee, having suffered a bad fall during her match. Mladenovic and Riske told officials during their warm-up on Court No. 18 that they didn’t feel the court was safe enough to play on.
“It’s quite unique with your opponent, after two games, you both agree on stopping playing in a slam,” explained the Frenchwoman. “You asking the referee to tell you what’s the rule if the both players don’t want to keep on playing. And the answer is that they just can’t do anything, unfortunately, and you have to keep on playing. In case something bad happens…
“We just had to keep on playing. I’m not sure how the other courts are, if they’re damaged that much as Court 18. I play on Court 3 my first round. Didn’t look bad at all. But it was first round.
“I think you can all pretty much see. First of all, I don’t know, the colour of the court, the fact that there’s no more grass, the fact that the baseline where we are running, it’s very slippery. There’s no grass. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not even clay. It’s not flat. I mean, I don’t know.
“So it makes, of course, it tough to put your strong footwork. You kind of have to run light and be careful, I don’t know, not to push or press too much, too hard, which is strange to play on. But, yeah, I’m just honestly very happy and blessed that I didn’t injure myself that much.”
Mladenovic added that she realised how slippery the court was during the warm-up because she twisted her ankle and that the referee came out and took pictures of a “huge hole on the sides”, saying the ground “wasn’t even flat”.
The No12 seed said that they were told by officials that the warm, sunny weather has made the courts drier than usual.
“It was quite obvious that we had the referee at the end of the warm-up. It’s nothing to do with the match. After 1-All, two games, it’s quite unique. It never happened to me to have such a situation,” said Mladenovic.
“I don’t know, I don’t want to call it negligence or anything, but yeah, I just hope nobody gets injured. That’s the thing. That’s a tricky feeling.
“I would like to be disappointed about my match, my loss. I’m just actually feeling happy that I didn’t injure myself much because I really felt bad with my knee when I fell down.”
Mladenovic also said that the topic of slippery courts is being discussed among the players in the locker room and that it’s not just one court that is in poor condition.
“Lots of courts. I’m not sure where the girls played. I am on the ladies member locker room, so I don’t meet many players. But the one I talk to, they — I don’t know in which court (Agnieszka) Radwanska played (Court No. 2), but she said it was horrible, as well. I don’t know,” concluded Mladenovic.
Later on Thursday, the AELTC released a statement regarding the court conditions that read: “On Thursday 6 July the Grand Slam Supervisor (Pam Whytcross) and the Assistant Referee (Denise Parnell) both attended Court 18 during the Mladenovic vs Riske match, inspected it, and in their experienced view judged it playable as per normal. The Head of Courts and Horticulture (Neil Stubley) and the Head Groundsman (Grant Cantin) were also in attendance.
“The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years. Grass is a natural surface and it is usual for the baselines to start to be showing signs of wear and tear four days into The Championships.
“The AELTC and Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) take hardness readings every morning in order to ensure that the courts have the right level of moisture and are playing consistently. No readings of any significance have been taken from Court 18. We will continue to monitor these readings and adjust our care plan for the grass appropriately.”
Novak Djokovic says he understands why his racquet sponsor Head has taken the decision to end their deal with Bernard Tomic following his controversial comments during his post-defeat press conference at Wimbledon but that he also empathises with the Australian.
Tomic lost tamely to Mischa Zverev in the Wimbledon first round then later admitted in his press conference that he took a medical timeout to try and interrupt the rhythm of his opponent. He also said he was “bored” on the court, that he doesn’t respect the game the way he should and that he “couldn’t care less” about losing in a fourth round or first round.
The 24-year-old Australian also said he felt “super old”, implying he’s suffering from a serious case of burnout.
Tomic was fined $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct and was dumped by his racquet sponsor Head, who issued a statement saying “his opinions in no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism and respect for the game”.
Djokovic was asked about Tomic’s controversial comments, and whether he thinks the Aussie should be penalised for being honest about how he feels about his job at the moment, or whether he can empathise with him, and his situation.
“That’s a good point. From a human side, we all have that empathy and we all have that compassion, so it’s just a matter of whether that surfaces, whether you allow it to surface, whether you try to understand the person or not. So it just really depends on you,” said Djokovic after his 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Adam Pavlasek in the second round.
“I generally try to understand people and why they take certain actions or words and we all are humans. We all have our flaws. We all, in the heat of the moment, maybe say some things that are not appropriate maybe, by definition of someone, or something.
“But again, it’s understandable, in a way, why Head has reacted in this way. Because it’s not the right message to send out there from one of the most talented players that has played a game in last six, seven years, and someone that was a hero to — he is a hero to many children, especially in Australia. Everybody looking up to him and him making these comments, I understand that perspective.”
Tomic, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals as an 18-year-old in 2011, was ranked No17 in the world last year and has won three ATP titles. He has been highly-touted since he was young as a great talent coming up on tour but has struggled with motivation multiple times throughout his career.
Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, knows the tour can be a grind and says he can see where Tomic is coming from to some extent.
“I also, I have to — because I’m on the tour, I play tennis, I understand the ups and downs that you experience as a player, understand the emotions that you go through, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy,” said Djokovic.
“There are tougher things in life. Absolutely. We have to be very grateful for the kind of lifestyle we have and to be given an opportunity to play a sport that we love.
“For him, it’s different now. He’s going through a tough stage, and you have to kind of understand it and support it.”
Djokovic next faces Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the third round. Gulbis is someone who never shies away from speaking his mind and has landed in hot water multiple times for his statements in press.
Gulbis hasn’t seen Tomic’s press conference but weighed in on the situation and vouched for the Australian.
“I didn’t see in what context he said it. I didn’t see how he said it. But based on your words (the reporter’s), Bernard, I know him a little bit. He’s a nice guy. He’s not a bad guy. It’s just the way he says things sometimes, it’s maybe too straightforward. He doesn’t mean those things,” said Gulbis.
“Unfortunately, yes, nowadays you get penalised a lot when speaking up your mind and saying some unpopular things. You have to be a little bit smart in that. Maybe this is not the case how he did it the last time. But it’s tough to say more.
“But I know him. He’s a good guy. He doesn’t mean bad. There’s some bad guys who play nice, but he’s a nice guy who, doesn’t play bad, but sometimes you get in this position. This is unfortunate.”
Bernard Tomic and Daniil Medvedev were slapped with hefty fines by the tournament Referee (in consultation with the Grand Slam Supervisors) for unsportsmanlike conduct at Wimbledon.
Tomic admitted to faking an injury to interrupt his opponent’s momentum during his first round match against Mischa Zverev and also said he was “bored” during the contest, and doesn’t have enough respect for the sport.
Asked about his injury in his post-match press conference, Tomic said: “I just thought I’d try to break a bit of momentum, to use that as my strategy, because I was just playing very bad and feeling bad out there.”
The Australian former Wimbledon quarter-finalist was fined $15,000, which will be deducted from the $45,290 (£35,000) prize money cheque he collected from the tournament.
Tomic told the Herald Sun that he will appeal the fine and that he doesn’t believe it was handed out because he faked an injury during the match, but rather that he confessed he was bored on court at Wimbledon.
“I was being honest,” he told the Australian paper. “People are saying the fine is for calling for the doctor, but it’s not. I don’t think the fine is fair.”
Tomic received more bad news on Thursday as he was dropped by his racquet sponsor Head.
“We were extremely disappointed with the statements made at Wimbledon by one of our sponsored athletes, Bernard Tomic,” read a statement from Head. “His opinions in no way reflect our own attitude for tennis, our passion, professionalism and respect for the game. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue our collaboration with Bernard Tomic.”
Medvedev, who upset Stan Wawrinka in the first round before losing to Ruben Bemelmans on Wednesday, reacted poorly to his defeat, which ended with him throwing coins at the umpire’s chair.
The young Russian was slapped with three fines that amount to a total of $14,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Medvedev apologised in his post-match press conference and said he regretted his actions “straightaway”.
Full list of fines so far at Wimbledon (as of 16:00 on Thursday July 6):
Tamara Korpatsch – $1,000 – Audible obscenity
Polona Hercog – $1,000 – Audible obscenity
Ivashka Ilya – $800 – Racquet abuse
Sam Groth – $800 – Racquet abuse
Benjamin Becker – $1,000 – Unsportsmanlike conduct
Alexander Bublik – $1,000 – Audible obscenity
Dennis Novikov – $800 – Racquet abuse
Stefanos Tsitsipas – $1,000 – Unsportsmanlike conduct
Joao Sousa – $2,000 – Audible obscenity
Facundo Bagnis – $2,000 – Audible obscenity
Bernard Tomic – $15,000 – Unsportsmanlike conduct
Daniil Medvedev – $4,000 – Unsportsmanlike conduct
Daniil Medvedev – $3,000 – Unsportsmanlike conduct
Daniil Medvedev – $7,500 – Unsportsmanlike conduct
*CORRECTION: In a previous version, this article stated that the ITF issues the fines. Fines are issued by the Tournament Referee in consultation with the Grand Slam Supervisors.