TIME tennis

Novak Djokovic Says He Isn’t Guilty of Cheating

Boodles Tennis Challenge
Reuters Staff — Reuters Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action at the Boodles Tennis Challenge in Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire, England, on June 26, 2015

His denial comes after coach Boris Becker reportedly suggested that he had a method of signaling to the player during matches

Novak Djokovic says he hasn’t broken rules prohibiting communication between players and coaches during matches, but conceded that players did find ways to communicate with their teams when they’re on the court.

The world tennis No. 1 was questioned by reporters about his coach Boris Becker’s reported suggestion that the team had a method of signaling to Djokovic if his game was going well or not, CNN says.

Communication “of any kind, audible or visible, between a player and a coach” is strictly prohibited in tennis, according to ATP World Tour rules.

Djokovic attempted to clarify the suggestion on Sunday. “There are times when, you know, the team of the player communicates with the player when he gets to go and take the towel in the corner, which is closer to the box, or, you know, different ways,” Djokovic told reporters. “I think it’s all fine as long as it’s not regular. I think it just depends.”

He added that he thought players regularly found ways around the rule, CNN reports.

“This is a very competitive sport. You’re alone on the court,” Djokovic told reporters. “We can’t pretend like that’s not happening in tennis.”

[CNN]

TIME tennis

Chris Evert: Serena Williams Is the Greatest of All-Time

Williams’ French Open victory was her 20th major win, four behind the women’s all-time career record.
Clive Brunskill—Getty Images Williams’ French Open victory was her 20th major win, four behind the women’s all-time career record.

With Wimbledon approaching, Williams is chasing history

Serena Williams owns 20 Grand Slam singles titles, just four short of Margaret Court’s record 24, and two behind Steffi Graf’s 22. But one tennis legend—who has a cool 18 major titles herself—isn’t waiting for Williams to break the record to declare her the best women’s player ever. “She is the greatest of all-time,” says Chris Evert, who spoke to TIME for our profile of Serena Williams that appears in the June 29 issue, available on newsstands starting Friday.

Evert cites Williams’ record in the finals of Grand Slam tournaments—20-4—and her lack of a rival as reasons for declaring her the GOAT. The absence of a consistent challenger for Williams usually works against her in this debate. After all, Court had Billie Jean King, Evert had Martina Navratilova, Graf had Monica Seles. Any of these Hall of Famers would dominate the competition Williams is currently facing—and pile up major championships.

Five or six years ago, Evert says, she bought the argument. But not anymore. “After watching her matches and watching her closely, these players get close, they’re doing really well, and then she’ll get to another level where she slaps winners and she starts acing people,” says Evert. “It’s not one level. All of a sudden, she’s up two or three levels better than the field. It’s not about the other women. It’s about how good Serena is.”

Evert is rooting for Williams to become the first player since Graf in 1988 to win the calendar year Grand Slam—a sweep of the Australian, French, and U.S. Opens, plus Wimbledon, which starts on June 29. She’s halfway there, having become the first player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win the Australian and the French (the U.S. Open begins in late August).

“I think we want to look up to somebody larger than life, and kind of go along for the ride,” says Evert. “We like to be in awe of somebody, it’s superhuman what they do, it’s just nice to feel like you’re part of that journey with them.”

TIME Television

Andy Samberg and Kit Harington to Team Up In HBO’s Wimbledon Mockumentary

Spike TV's "Guys Choice" Awards - Arrivals
Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07: Actor Andy Samberg attends Spike TV's "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Studios on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Tennis, anyone?

Andy Roddick and Andy Murray are about to be joined by a new tennis-playing Andy: Andy Samberg. The comedian will not be playing at the U.S. Open any time soon, but he will be honing his backhand to play a tennis bad boy opposite Game of Thrones star Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow) in an upcoming HBO mockumentary called 7 Days in Hell.

Samberg will play “tennis’ superstar bad boy” Aaron Williams, who is up against Harington’s Charles Poole, “a tennis prodigy and certified truck driver,” facing off during a legendary seven-day match at Wimbledon, according to Deadline. While the story sounds far-fetched, it has roots in reality. Back in 2010, Wimbledon hosted an epic match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who battled it out for 11 hours over three days, with Isner eventually winning, 70-68 in the fifth set.

Rounding out the cast of the mockumentary will be Fred Armisen, Lena Dunham, Karen Gillan (as a supermodel and Charles’s childhood best friend), Howie Mandel, Soledad O’Brien (as herself), Michael Sheen and Mary Steenburgen (as Charles’s crazed mother). Nebraska stars Will Forte and June Squibb will reunite on screen as well, with Forte playing a tennis historian.

The HBO original was written by Girls and American Dad! writer Murray Miller and is based on a concept by Miller and Samberg. SNL and Funny or Die’s Jake Szymanski will direct.

MORE: A Conversation with Andy Samberg: Cops, Cuckoos and Comedy

MORE: The Best Theory About Jon Snow’s Mother

TIME tennis

Novak Djokovic Denies Roger Federer a (Final?) Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles final at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, on July 6, 2014
Ben Curtis—AP Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles final at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, on July 6, 2014

The Serbian star played just enough defense to win his second Wimbledon title and regain the world's top ranking

Roger Federer had one of the best service sets of his beautiful career during Sunday’s Wimbledon final. He was tied a set a piece with Novak Djokovic, the top seed of this year’s tournament. On serve, Federer treated Djokovic like a junior: he aced him again and again, 13 in all, to Djokovic’s one. Some games were barely competitive.

Federer still lost that set. And eventually, the match.

A locked-in Djokovic held his own serves in that crucial third set, and took the tiebreaker that put him a set up. Federer, who was seeking a record eighth Wimbledon title, wouldn’t go quietly; he staved off a 5-2 Djokovic lead and a championship point, in a dizzying fourth set to force a fifth. It was the first Wimbledon final to go the distance since Federer won his 2009 classic over Andy Roddick (final score of that fifth set — 16-14).

Djokovic, circa 2008, likely would have wilted after blowing such a golden opportunity. And Federer, as we once knew him, would have finished Djokovic off. But this is a new era: Djokovic reclaimed the world’s top ranking with his close-to-classic 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4 victory over Federer.

The match won’t be remembered like Rafael Nadal’s marathon win over Federer in the 2008 final. Still, it was a gripping match, one of the best finals in recent Grand Slam history. Early on, Federer wasn’t showing his age. He was moving with authority and confusing Djokovic with his tactical approach, sometimes playing a serve-and-volley game, sometimes staying home on the baseline, where his racket was a magic wand putting the ball in at seemingly impossible angles. We’ve seen that Federer at Wimbledon so many times before.

Not that Djokovic didn’t make Federer pay when he approached the net: he hit 14 passing shots for winners, to Federer’s two. Federer served big throughout the match: he had 29 aces, to Djokovic’s 13. But when the ball was in play, Djokovic’s reach and quickness — he hustled so hard, he fell a few times on Wimbledon’s worn grass — enabled him to play just enough defense to wear down Federer, who smacked championship point into the net.

Was this Federer’s last chance at a Slam? He turns 33 in August, and if he was going to steal one more title, it was probably going to be his favorite one, Wimbledon. Federer has 17 Slams, while Rafael Nadal, five years his junior, has 14, including nine at the French Open. Even if Nadal falls short everywhere else but clay, he could eclipse Federer’s record.

But that won’t be easy, thanks to this Djokovic fellow. It’s easy to obsess over the Roger-Rafa title chase, while forgetting that Djokovic is, you know, the best player in the world. Since his monster 2011, when he won every Slam but the French, Djokovic has just won two Australian Opens. Not a bad haul, but coming into this match, he had lost three straight Grand Slam finals, including a four-setter to Nadal in this year’s French. Djokovic is close to breaking through at Roland Garros — winning that title would give him a career Grand Slam.

After the match, an emotional Djokovic announced that he was about to become a father; his future wife is six months pregnant. He called Wimbledon “the best tournament in the world, the most valuable one” and you know something, he’s right: it’s the Masters of tennis, the tournament with the most prestige. His second Wimbledon title is his sweetest, especially after defeating the seven-time champ in five sets. Federer stood by the net, gracious, as Djokovic spoke. The closest, perhaps, he’ll ever get to the Wimbledon trophy again.

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: June 27 – July 4

From the killing of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers and Tim Howard’s World Cup heroics to the beginning of Ramadan and Hurricane Arthur photographed from space, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME

Feel Good Friday: 11 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From giant pandas to rain god rituals, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME royals

Experience Andy Murray’s Wimbledon Loss Through This Kate Middleton GIF

The Duchess of Cambridge's upper lip was anything but stiff as the reigning Wimbledon champ lost in the quarter-finals

Getty Images (6); Gif by Adam Glanzman for TIME

The usually reserved royals betrayed their country’s stiff upper lip while watching Wimbledon’s reigning champion Andy Murray lose to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-finals. The Duchess of Cambridge appeared quite animated during the match, pulling a variety of faces that show just how passionate she is about tennis.

Kate, whose family has already made several appearances at the Royal Box at Wimbledon this week, was clad in a white eyelet dress by Zimmerman, while William wore his usual uniform of pants, shirt and a jacket. She also donned a pair of stylish oversize shades with her tennis whites for the event.

The loss was quite a blow for the great Scot: Murray has made the semi-finals at the Grand Slam event every year since 2008.

 

TIME

Pictures of the Week: June 20 — June 27

From the US advancing to the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup and the growing crisis in Iraq to selfies with Queen Elizabeth and Batman’s California VIP appearance, TIME presents the best photos of the week.

TIME Wimbledon

The Defiant Outfits Wimbledon Didn’t Want You to See

The dress code at Wimbledon got a little stricter this year, with officials applying the all-white rule even to accessories, including undergarments, wristbands and headbands. Here's a look back at the players who have pushed the boundaries of the dress code throughout the years

TIME tennis

Wimbledon: The Scene Behind the Green

There is more to the famous British tournament than the players.

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