Day One at Wimbledon: Who is Marcus Willis?

The first day of Wimbledon is a day to savor but it usually produces predictable results and acts as a tune up for the big names. It’s the truly obscure stories however, that are usually the most entertaining and heart warming over the first few days. Sure enough, yesterday we got the remarkable story of Marcus Willis. If you’ve never heard of him it’s because he’s the kind of guy who will eat Snickers bars and drink RC cola during matches.

Marcus Willis, a 25-year-old British player ranked no. 772 in the world, pulled off the upset of Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, the 54th ranked player in the world in straights, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. The details of this story are what make it so special. He had earned less than $300 in his career to date but is now guaranteed himself at least 50,000 pounds. Willis was ready to quit the tour in February to take a coaching position in Philadelphia but lucky for him he fell in love. His new girlfriend, a 30-year-old dentist named Jenny Bate who he met at concert in January, convinced him to give it one more go and the rest is history.

Willis, who is nicknamed Cartman due to his hefty size, will take on the one and only Roger Federer on center court Wednesday. Sure enough Federer had heard of him prior to his victory. “I followed it before I even saw him in my section of the draw,” Federer said. “It’s one of the best stories in a long time in our sport. This is the kind of story we need. I’m very excited to be playing him, actually.” Even Andy Murray got in on the action. How cool is that?

Here are some of the other stories that got our attention and are worth keeping an eye on going forward…

  • Juan Martin Del Potro is back in action today after missing out on the last nine (nine!) Grand Slam finals. Wrist injuries have derailed the 2009 US Open champions career but he’ll be hoping to make a bit of a run here at Wimbledon to get his career back on track. In his prime he was one of the most dominant and imposing players on tour so hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of the old Del Potro this week. Sure enough he’ll face off against Stan Wawrinka in the second round.
  • Philipp Kohlschreiber (21), Kevin Anderson (20) and Gael Monfils (17) all lost on Monday. These are big names who you wouldn’t be surprised to make run to the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam, so it’s somewhat to see these players drop out on day one. Specifically, tennis fans always love for the eccentric and dynamic Monfils to stick around as long as possible but I guess we’ll have to settle for Nick Kyrgios.
  • Madison Keys, who just recently cracked the top ten, and Venus Williams cruised on Monday while Serena Williams took care of business this morning. All three of these American women are currently in the top 10 and will be expected to make runs into the second week. For Serena, she has lost her last two Grand Slam finals so she’ll be eager to finally match Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam record here at Wimbledon.


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