WIMBLEDON — Mirra Andreeva could very well be the next Maria Sharapova, but she was not even conceived when the Russian superstar made her Wimbledon debut.
Monday marked the conclusion of Andreeva’s remarkable run through the Wimbledon draw, as she was defeated in three sets by No. 25 seed Madison Keys.
Andreeva, who reached the third round of the French Open six weeks ago, lit up her first grass-court tournament by advancing to the quarterfinals after advancing through qualifying and defeating two seeded competitors.
Andreeva would have been the youngest grand slam quarter-finalist since Anna Kournikova, who was 15 at the 1996 US Open, and Sharapova, who was only 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004, had she advanced.
“I wasn’t even born when Sharapova won Wimbledon, so I missed this historic moment,” Andreeva said when asked if the two Russian women were an inspiration.
“However, it is remarkable what they have both done for tennis. I wish I could have witnessed that moment, but I did not.”
Both women were born entertainers, something Andreeva appears to have in abundance, and the newest Russian prodigy demonstrates a passion on the court that is not always in check.
When she lost the second set after leading 6-2, 4-1, she threw her racket toward her luggage, demonstrating her anger. Umpire Louise Azemar Engzell had no option but to issue a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The second warning in this category, however, was more controversial and occurred at a crucial time. At 2-5 in the fifth set, Andreeva was serving to remain in the match when she slipped in the corner of the court and lost the point.
As she attempted to regain her equilibrium, her ankle flexed, her hair and limbs dispersed, and the racket flew out of her hand and into the ground.
Whether or not it was intentional is still up for debate, but the umpire had no doubt, issuing a second warning and a mandatory point penalty. Andreeva argued her case, but as usual, nothing was done. It was a match point for Keys, and she won it on the first try.
The Russian stormed to the net, shook her opponent’s hand, disregarded the umpire, and left the court as quickly as possible, scarcely noticing the No. 2 Court audience’s ovation.
“This is a contentious issue for me because I do not know which decision was correct. She serves as arbiter. Andreeva stated that she is the one who makes the decision.
“However, I had no intention of throwing the instrument. I fell. I anticipated falling forward. Perhaps it did appear that I hurled the racquet. I’m not sure.
“However, this was her decision, so she made this choice. Now that’s the end of it. She made the call, so the match is now over.
“She did not make the proper choice for me. This is why I did not want to shake her palm.”
A 16-year-old’s out-of-character behavior in such a high-pressure situation is undoubtedly excusable. According to numerous social media users, she has a lot of maturing to do.
However, Andreeva claims she has worked hard to regulate her emotions on the court and has discussed the matter with her parents and coaches.
She also disclosed her own late-night strategy for processing her meteoric ascension in the tennis world: she will be world No. 64 when the rankings are updated the following week.
“It’s kind of odd, but almost every night before I go to sleep, I turn off the lights and try to have a conversation with myself about the day and everything,” Andreeva said.
“At the time following the French Open [when she succumbed to Coco Gauff in three sets], I discussed the sport. It sort of assisted me. I converse with myself in the same manner as I would with my mother or my instructor, but I am alone in the room. It operates the same, but no one is listening besides you.”