Marcus Willis the 30 year old British player, announced his retirement from the professional tennis circuit this week.
Who is Marcus Willis?
Marcus Willis is a left handed Brit. The 30 year old mainly played on the futures tour during the tail end of the 2020 season.
Unless a follower of the lower league tennis, it is unlikely that you will have heard of Willis. Especially as his ranking reached 209 in November 2017. However, The Brit made headlines at Wimbledon in 2016.
In the year that Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title, Willis had a long slog just to even make the event. In June that year, Willis was providing tennis lessons at Warwick Boat Club at the cost of £30 per hour. He was the last player to be granted a place at Wimbledon pre qualifying that year.
Willis then won 3 matches in pre qualifying, to qualify for the qualifying rounds. The Brit took on the fourth seed Yuichi Sugita in the first round. Dropping the first set it looked like that could be it for Willis, however, the Brit managed to come back and win.
Willis then took on Andrey Rublev (currently world number 8, but at the time the Russian was 18 and a junior masters champion. The Brit defeated Rublev in straight sets to land in the final qualifying round. This match pitched Willis against Daniil Medvedev (currently world number 3).
The Brit dropped the first set against the Russian before turning the match round and booking a spot in the main draw at his home Grand Slam for the first time.
The Main Draw
After winning six matches to make the main draw, his first round opponent was Ričardas Berankis. The Lithuanian was higher ranked, and on paper should have had no issues getting by the Brit. Playing on Court 17 there was plenty of support for Willis. He surprised Berankis and took the match in straight sets.
Up next? Non other than Swiss Maestro Roger Federer. The ever popular Federer was seeded third, and was not expected to have much to worry about against the plucky Brit. In fact, the first set seemed to prove that as the Swiss took the set without the loss of a game.
Willis won his first service game of the second set, and the crowd cheered so loudly that you’d think he had won the trophy. The Brit managed to stay in the match from there on in, making Federer have to work harder to break serve. The Swiss did manage to do so, but only once in each of the other two sets.
Although Willis lost, he enjoyed the ride. He told the press afterwards
“If I’m playing quite well and competing with Roger Federer for a couple of sets, I’m doing the right thing.”
Federer commented that Willis had been playing at the level of a top 50 player, and he had treated him as such. The Brit may have lost that day, but he certainly had the crowd behind him. Willis received a standing ovation as he left the court.
The Brit was unable to repeat this amazing run the following year, however, with Jay Clarke made the third round in the doubles, defeating defending champions Nicolas Mahut & Pierre Hugues-Herbert in a five set thriller. Due to ranking drops, Willis was back on the futures tour after Wimbledon.
When announcing his retirement, Willis advised that the next step will still be within Tennis. The Brit is taking his coaching qualifications, and will also be presenting his Podcast “What you talking about Willis”
Whatever happens going forward, the Brit will always be remembered for the unlikely run at Wimbledon 2016.