A soggy Wimbledon to savour
The 126th Wimbledon Championships will be remembered as 'the one when Andy Murray almost got it done'. But even without the deeds of Murray, the first British man to reach a singles final at SW19 for 74 years, the tournament would have gone down in the annals as a great one.
Heartening British cameos, Aussie woe and, lest we forget, a rare home victory after all. Shocking upsets, stirring comebacks and, at the end of a fortnight when the sun rarely shone and the Centre Court roof played a starring role, two singles champions that might just be the greatest of all. BBC Sport takes stock.
FEDERER A BEAUTY AMONG BEASTS
While plenty of British tennis fans will have taken little pleasure from watching Murray being outclassed in the men's final, many will have turned to each other after the match was done and conceded: "At least it was Federer that beat him".
In equalling Pete Sampras's record of seven singles titles, and winning his first since 2009, the graceful Federer proved the epee can still prevail over the tanks parked all over Wimbledon's hallowed lawns.
A one-handed backhand that resembles an artist flicking paint on a canvas, touch shots that belong in the Wimbledon museum, you would have to be a philistine not to appreciate him. Surely the greatest of all time?
SERENA STILL SLAMMING IT
In January, Serena Williams proclaimed tennis wasn't really her bag: "It's not that I've fallen out of love with it. I've never liked sports." Some accused her of disrespect, others were not surprised. Like tennis or not, this year at Wimbledon she demonstrated the women's game is more vital with than without her.
Williams thought her career might be over when she went down with a career-threatening illness in 2011, and an ugly first-round defeat at Roland Garros last month, where she went down in three sets to 111th seed Virginie Razzano, left some suggesting that, at 30, her powers were on the wane.
But having looked ponderous at times in advancing to the semi-finals at SW19, Williams flicked a switch against poor Victoria Azarenka, sending down a record-breaking 24 aces and 45 winners in a straight-sets victory.
Radwanska made a fist of the final having lost the first set 6-1, but was eventually ground into the Centre Court turf by the juggernaut over the net. "I love being me," said Williams. And why not? There may never have been better.
RAFA SHOT DOWN IN FLAMES
The tournament smouldered for three days before bursting into a mighty conflagration on the fourth evening, two-time champion and number two seed Rafael Nadal going down in five sets to world number 100 Lukas Rosol.
Nadal came into the event as the reigning French Open champion and was as short as 100-1 on to beat his mysterious Czech opponent. The 26-year-old Rosol, meanwhile, was making his debut in the main draw having lost in the first round of qualifying in his five previous attempts.
Trailing 2-1 in sets, Nadal wore the expression of a man who had popped out for bread and butter only to find himself caught up in a gunfight. The Spaniard managed to wrestle the match into a deciding set, only for Rosol, eyes as wide as saucers, to continue strafing him with aces and winners.
With the Centre Court roof in place and with 15,000 punters baying for an upset, Rosol finished off the contest ace-forehand winner-ace-ace. Rosol called his victory "a miracle", and so it proved: he lost in straight sets in the next round.
In this age of often toe-curling, choreographed celebrations, Agnieszka Radwanska's almost imperceptible hop on becoming the first Polish woman to reach the women's singles final at Wimbledon since 1937 was affecting.
While certainly understated, Radwanska showed how much the tournament meant to her with a stirring comeback against Serena Williams in the final, before sucking up the tears of anguish having eventually lost in three sets.
THE GREAT ROOF DEBATE
There were times during a soggy fortnight when players, punters and journalists did not know whether they were coming or going. And the same went for the tournament organisers, who still haven't got to grips with the Centre Court roof.
Here's what the Wimbledon rule-book says: "The Championships is an outdoor daytime event. Therefore, in good weather, the roof will only be used if it is too dark to play on without it." Which is a contradictory statement: if Wimbledon is an outdoor, daytime event, then what are they doing playing indoors at night?
When the roof is on, Centre Court turns from ancient sporting cathedral into something akin to a rock venue: Nadal-Rosol was a scream, while Murray's third-round victory over Marcos Baghdatis, with the Scot racing to beat the 11 o'clock cut-off point, was tremendous theatre. Clarity is all we ask for.
The last time Prince Charles visited Wimbledon in 1970, John Newcombe beat fellow Australian Ken Rosewall to win the men's final, Margaret Court of Australia beat Billie Jean King to win the women's final and Newcombe and Tony Roche beat Rosewall and Fred Stolle in the final of the men's doubles. Oh, I should have added, Roche and Stolle were Aussies as well.
Prince Charles returned in 2012 to find Australian tennis somewhat diminished. No Australian men and only one Australian woman progressed from the first round, while Sam Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, lost in the second.
"How did I feel at the greatest tennis nation in the world descending to the depths of being less than ordinary?" said the fair dinkum Pat Cash, men's singles champion in 1987. "Not angry, not ashamed but extremely disappointed. But can I say I'm hugely surprised? Not really."
Cash blamed the poor showing on the failure of grass-roots tennis in his home country, while also lamenting the lack of former top-class players coaching the youngsters. Still, the former top-class players are there if they want them.
GREEN SHOOTS IN BLIGHTY?
If Australian tennis is in crisis, at least Aussies can point to a glorious past. When you've got publications hailing the fourth day of Wimbledon as 'Brit Thursday' because five home players have won through to the second round for the first time in six years, you know things have been awry for quite some time.
Only Murray and Heather Watson made it to the third round, and while Jonathan Marray gave cause for some cheer by becoming the first Briton to win the men's doubles for 76 years, it was hardly the stuff of a madman's dreams.
"It's the same old story," said former British number one John Lloyd. "We get a win or two and we're so happy about it. But it isn't that good in the grander scheme of things. It's still not what it should be." Murray is one almighty fig leaf, but he doesn't really need to be that big: there's not an awful lot underneath.