By Ossian Shine
LONDON (Reuters) – French 12th seed Kristina Mladenovic brushed aside her second- round defeat at Wimbledon on Thursday, saying she couldn’t care less about it and was just happy she had not been injured.
Mladenovic was beaten 2-6 6-4 6-4 by unheralded American Alison Riske, but she insisted her main concern had been getting off Court 18 in one piece.
“Honestly, the feeling is that I couldn’t care less if I lost the match today, I just want to be healthy. I’m just so blessed and happy that I am not injured today, because we saw worse today.”
The French woman’s comments came just two hours after American Bethanie Mattek-Sands had been carried off a different court on a stretcher, screaming in pain with a serious knee injury.
Mladenovic said she and Riske had both asked to not play on the court after the first two games.
“It’s quite unique with your opponent, after two games, you both agree on stopping playing in a slam,” she said. “You asking the referee to tell you what’s the rule if both players don’t want to keep on playing. And the answer is that they just can’t do anything, unfortunately, and you have to keep on playing.
“I think you can all pretty much see. First of all, I don’t know, the color of the court, the fact that there’s no more grass, the fact that the baseline where we are running, it’s very slippery.
“There’s no grass. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not even clay. It’s not flat. I mean, I don’t know. So it is tough to put your strong footwork. You kind of have to run light and be careful, I don’t know, not to push or press too much, too hard, which is strange to play on. I’m just honestly very happy and blessed that I didn’t injure myself that much.”
The All England Club confirmed that Court 18 had been checked by tournament officials, including head groundsman Neil Stubley, during the match and was “playable as normal”.
“The court preparation has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years,” a statement said.
“Grass is a natural surface and it is usual for the baselines to start to be showing signs of wear and tear four days into the Championships.”
It said moisture readings, taken every morning, showed nothing unusual despite the hot weather.
“We will continue to monitor these readings and adjust our care plan for the grass appropriately.”
Mattek-Sands’s conqueror, Sorana Cirstea, said Court 17 had been a little slippery, but nothing out of the ordinary.
“We all know grass, it’s quite dangerous sometimes,” she told reporters. “Especially as you get through the days, it’s less grass and more sand or whatever.
“I think all of us, we know when we move — I also had two quite tough balls where I almost fell over. So we all know grass is a little bit more dangerous than hard court or clay.”
Mladenovic said the condition of the courts was a topic of conversation in the locker rooms.
“I don’t want to call it negligence or anything, but yeah, I just hope nobody gets injured. That’s the thing. That’s a tricky feeling.
“Lots of courts … I am in the ladies member locker room, so I don’t meet many players. But the ones I talk to, they — I don’t know in which court (Agnieszka) Radwanska played, but she said it was horrible, as well. I don’t know.”
(Additional reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by: Clare Lovell, Larry King)