Meet Marcus Willis, the Iceland of tennis

Somebody whose come across this blog post with no further context might be a bit confused by the title. But for those who read yesterday’s post, about Iceland’s unlikely triumph over England in the European Championships, it will be a smooth transition.

But before I hit my stride on today’s topic — in which, for better or worse, there is no coming back from — I must once again comment on the global significance of the current events that have taken place recently.

I haven’t even gotten to touch on the recent death of two sports icons, Pat Summitt, a legendary and historically successful women’s college basketball coach who was a pioneer for female athletics, and football coach Buddy Ryan, a defensive genius who helped coach my beloved New York Jets to their only Super Bowl win in 1969, and whose son, Rex, led the Jets to their most successful back-to-back seasons I’ve witnessed since I’ve been supporting the team.

Rest in peace. Your respective impacts on this world will be felt for years to come.

And then there was the devastating suicide bombings inside the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Tuesday night, one of the world’s major transit hubs, which killed 42 people and injured more than 200. ISIS is suspected — though it’s not confirmed — to have committed the attacks.

Istanbul airport

What more is there to say? The world can too often be a devastating place.

Finally, the Supreme Court made a few landmark decisions this week, most notably dismissing recent Texas laws that created too many restrictions for women seeking abortion as unconstitutional. The decision, a 5-3 vote, redefined the most recent notable abortion decision, “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey” in 1992, which had allowed abortion clinics to create certain restrictions. But this ruling clearly draws a line in the sand and is a major victory for abortion advocates.

OK, that’s all done now. You have all been briefed. Back to sports.

I informed you all just how miraculous Iceland’s plight is in the European soccer championships this year. Well, somehow, the team might have been outshone.

Wimbledon, the world’s most prominent tennis tournament and the only one with a dress code, is currently ongoing in England.

Earlier on Wednesday, one of the most unlikeliest of competitors got to play against the best tennis player of our generation and arguably the best player in the history of the sport.

Marcus Willis, of England, is ranked 772nd in the world. He’s a part-time tennis instructorMarcus Willis tennis who almost quit playing the sport professionally earlier this year. He won six qualifying matches just to make the tournament, and then, somehow, went on to win his first round match against 54th-ranked Ricardas Berankis, the highest ranked Lithuanian player of all time, in his first ever official tour match.

That paired him against Roger Federer, 17-time grand slam winner and 7-time Wimbledon champion, in Round 2. Federer crushed him. But there were entertaining volleys along the way, and he was treated by his home crowd as a hero.

That, my friends, is what sports is all about.

He’s 772nd in the world. That’s like the most talented player at your local rec center making Wimbledon. That’s like the best pitcher in a beer league starting the World Series.

By advancing to the second round, Willis earned 50,000 pounds. In his entire career before that, he had earned about 220,000 pounds combined.

An with his accomplishment, Willis has earned even more an important pound.

A fist pound. From me.

It’s just a notch below a victory at Wimbledon.

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