When Bethanie Mattek-Sands suffered an unfortunate accident during her second round in the Wimbledon Championships 2017 Women’s singles, it initially came across as an accident, a stroke of painfully ill fortune on the American’s part. But an alternative narrative is going about in the tournament being held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club of London’s Wimbledon district. This is rooted in the fact that this is the last Grand Slam that is being played on grass courts. With complaints coming from major pro competitors like the top two males Andy Murray and Roger Federer, the grass on the court this year is getting some heavy criticism.

Something wrong with the surface

On Saturday, July 8, three-time Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic told reporters prior to the Wimbledon tournament rest day of Sunday that he has felt something off about the surface while at play compared to past years when he competed. His opinion is shared it seems by plenty of other tennis players. “They were complaining,” he notes, “especially on the outside courts.” His own description of the difference is that somehow the turf on the courts have gotten a bit softer, a far cry he feels from the usual perfect conditions of the grass playing surface at Wimbledon.

Andy Murray also remarked on how the center-most court of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was getting unusually full of divots, chunks of grass, and earth that have been displaced by impacts of the tennis balls and players’ feet while competing.

Around the same day as Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ tumble on the court, fellow Women’s Singles competitor Kristina Mladenovic was on Court 18 against American Alison Riske when she found herself slipping on the grass at least three times during play. She lost the match and walked away with what she termed slight injuries on her knees and ankle, and complaints of seeing holes in the court.

No grass on the court

Speaking of the Mladenovic-Riske matchup, both players also noticed how some sections of their allotted Wimbledon court seemed to be less like turf and more like slippery ice. The winner Alison Riske is generally at her best playing tennis on grass courts, but even she feels the surface kept her from playing at good form.

Kristia Mladenovic simply told reporters, "There's no grass. I don’t know how to describe it."

Not everyone was having trouble and grousing about the surface, however. Luxembourg tennis player Gilles Muller is also a grass court specialist himself, and in spite of reported complaints, he was able to score an upset victory over favored powerhouse, Rafael Nadal, knocking out the World Number 2 and securing himself a spot on the Wimbledon Championships quarterfinals.

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