One disapointing thing media wise. ESPN.com has had no mention of her victory, just a box score. I think it at least deserves a blurb from AP even if an ESPN writer doesn't do it.
Oh well, at least there's no shortage of coverage in Croatian media...my favorite article with translation by your's truly:
THE LIFE STORY OF LUCIC-BARONI: She always believed there's something grand awaiting for her at the end of the miraculous path
The first thing she said was so predictable: - Don't ask me anything, I don't know what to say. Then she composed herself and requested: - If this is true, don't wake me up, let me dream.
Mirjana Lucic, once a child prodigy, title winner on the WTA tour at the age of 15, today is a 32 year-old we'd almost say veteran, and once again a big champion. She waited unimaginable 16 years to fight in her fourth final and win her third title.
- It's been so long, I don't know how to hold a trophy anymore.
For those who don't remember or are too young to know, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni was 15 years old when she won her first career title in Bol, on the island of Brac. One year later she did it all over again. She was a child prodigy and an instant celebrity. When she played at Bol, the stadium was overcrowded. There were more fans than there are inhabitants in this wonderful tourist resort on Brac.
The world was her's and there was only one direction for her to go, towards becoming a great champion. That was especially evident after winning the Australian Open doubles with Martina Hingis in 1998. She was also the winner of junior grand slams and simply a girl who is coming at an unstoppable pace labeled as "the new Steffi Graf" or "Steffi from Makarska".
But everything has changed in the life of Lucic-Baroni that same year, in a span of just a few months. After she played the mixed doubles final in Wimbledon partnering Mahesh Bhupathi, somethng happened, which was far bigger and for her far more important at the time. After, let's call it a misunderstanding, a big misunderstanding with her father Marinko, the person most deservant for her success and rise up until that point, the whole family moved, or fled, to the United States. Mirjana with her mother, two sisters and two brothers, Mirjana who, from that moment on, needed to take care of the family. When things align like that, tennis takes a toll, just as it did in the case of a girl who never achieved what was prophesied to her, to be number one in the world. But she did achieve something, possibly even greater.
SPIRIT OF A CHAMPION
In just seven days of competition in Quebec City, you could've found out everything you ever wanted to but didn't know about the career of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Her father always told me that she was stuborn and incredibly persistent. A great fighter. And to all those who have forgotten about that or had doubts that things could happen again, Mirjana Lucic proved that there's still a spirit of a champion living inside of her.
The fact that 16 years needed to pass for one such great victory to be born, and in the final she defeated a great American Venus Williams who played her 75th career final and experienced 30th career final defeat, which was also the first in three encounters with our almost forgotten tennis player, is a message like no other. Also a record like no other, one of those which will be difficult, or even impossible to surpass.
In the span of 16 years Mirjana Lucic made it to the final at last, fourth of her career, and took the title. Sixteen long years. In the meantime she was only once more in the semifinal, in 1999 at the world's greatest tournament, Wimbledon, where she lost in three sets after winning the first, once again to Steffi Graf. All that after shocking Monica Seles and the rest of the tennis world, in the third round on Center Court.
Despite everything that may lie ahead in the career of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, this is surely one of the greatest results, even in the history of tennis, and undoubtedly in the history of our's. But what I think is fascinating in this unbelievable story of a nearly forgotten champion with the label of child wonder, is the situation from which the triumph in Canada emerged.
Since Roland Garros all the way until the qualifications of US Open, Mirjana lost in the first round of 7 consecutive events. Those were defeates which more suggested the approaching end of her career, than the sensation of all sensations.
In those 7 defeats Mirjana was faced with Ludmila Kichenok of Ukraine, world's #172, completely unknown Katy Dunne, #483, and to top it all off, just ten days before she went into the qualifications of 4th Grand Slam of the year, Racquel Kops-Jones, believe it or not, ranked 1055 in the world. This girl is earning her bread by playing doubles and on that day in Stanford she achieved a singles result which she will never repeat again.
Few saw it as possible for Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to qualify for US Open. All pointed to the fact that it'll be just one more event with no result for anyone to remember. She passed by Bernarda Pera, the native of Zadar, before turning around 2:5 in the third set against the Russian Sofia Shapatava, who held a double break advantage.
And when she did all that, she exploded by reaching the fourth round, by defeating a great young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, as well as the world's number 2, Simona Halep of Romania, who also had a 5:2 lead against her only in the first set. But neither that advantage, nor the double break, were enough. Mirjana Lucic made the first sensation of US Open.
She lost in the round of 16 to Italian Sara Errani, but she continued her magical story in Canada. After losing 7 straight matches, a girl who started her tennis journey in Makarska, won 10 out of 11 encounters in just two events.
THE WORLD TAKES A BOW
Mirjana Lucic went through so much in both her career and life. She used to say how tough she had it, but she was never ready to give up tennis. As if she always believed that somewhere along the way, maybe even towards the end of one incredible and wonderous path, something great awaits for her.
That something great happened this Sunday in Canada, when after 16 years of drought she battled into the singles and doubles final, winning them both. In singles she had to win against the top seeded Venus Williams, who won 45 career titles, 7 of which are Grand Slams, while in doubles partnering Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic she first eliminated the top seeds Babos/Mladenovic and then the 2nd seeds Goerges/Hlavackova. As to how and why everything set into place after 16 years in that one day, it's difficult to answer or explain. Because there is no explanation. Tennis is simply such a sport.
In the week in which Marin Cilic won the US Open and Croatian Davis Cup team came back to World Group, Mirjana Lucic wrote one more big, great chapter in the book of Croatian tennis.
Grand Slam titles are certainly the greatest and there's no comparing anything to Iva Majoli, Goran Ivanisevic and Marin Cilic, who won Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open respectively. Of course there's also nothing to match the winning of Davis Cup. But this what Mirjana Lucic has achieved in Canada, somewhere around the same time as Marin Cilic got Croatia back to the World Group of Davis Cup, is right next to those greatest of results, and possibly the best of all others. It's hard, if at all possible, to explain how someone like Mirjana Lucic has waited 16 long years to become a champion on Tour again at the age of 32.
- Miki is a miracle.
This was a common conclusion of Goran Ivanisevic and your reporter, who witnessed her win in Bol and the semifinal at Wimbledon.
Goran added something else:
- If anybody deserved this, Miki sure has.
I don't know if she needs a better compliment. She dreamt such a moment for a long time, obviously always believing in this impossible scenario, and when it's like that, and when you're good enough - and she always was - then everything is possible. She became a true champion, before whom on Sunday in Quebec City, the great Venus Williams along with the entire tennis world, had to take a bow.