Wimbledon: Ailing Radwanska will defy illness to play in ‘dream’ final

AGNIESZKA Radwanska yesterday blamed the miserable British summer for the illness which threatens to turn her dream Wimbledon final against Serena Williams into an impossible mission.

As Williams limbered up by teaming up with sister Venus to book a place in the doubles final, Radwanska was ailing, cancelling a planned press conference and staying away from the practice courts.

For several hours, there were unanswered questions. Would the world No 3 even play today? Might she default and hand Williams the first walkover Wimbledon has ever known in the women’s singles showpiece match?

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Initially an official from the women’s tour, the WTA, was non-committal when asked if Radwanska would be fit to turn out, but by mid-afternoon Radwanska was up to issuing a statement underlining her intention not to miss the biggest match of her life.

The 23-year-old will not only be contesting her first grand slam final, but victory would give her the No 1 ranking.

She is also the first Polish player for 75 years to have reached a Wimbledon singles final. Jadwiga Jedrzejowska was the last, in 1937, when she lost to Britain’s Dorothy Round.

“Unfortunately I have picked up an upper respiratory illness, which is affecting my nose and throat,” Radwanska said. “I have been playing a lot of matches here in the rain and cold wind, and I haven’t been well for a few days. The most important thing is that I’m feeling good on the court and playing some good tennis, despite not being able to talk much away from the court. I will do whatever it takes to make sure I’m ready to play the best I can.”

Radwanska confirmed earlier medical reports from the WTA that she was struggling to speak, but there is no lack of fight from her.

“Everyone dreams when they are a kid about becoming number one,” she said, “so I’m very happy to have a chance to play for the top ranking. But there is still one very tough match to go. Of course, I will do everything in my power to perform well and win, but it’s not going to be easy.”