Handing out our Wimbledon hardware

LONDON, England -- Can we fast forward 11&frac12; months?


There's nothing quite like Wimbledon on the sporting calendar, and this year's edition of the world's most famous tennis tournament had to be one of the finest ever.

John Isner's 11-hour win over Nicolas Mahut couldn't be topped. But the likes of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went the distance in the first week, too. Nadal eventually cruised to the title, while Federer, in a watershed moment, lost prior to the semifinals for the second straight major.

After Serena Williams made an adjustment early in the tournament, no one touched her serve. It's 13 Grand Slam titles and counting for the world No. 1.

And the umbrellas were used for shade, not precipitation. No rain delays for the first time since 1995.

Here's a fond look back at the Big W:

Most valuable men's player: Rafael Nadal

When it was crunch time, Rafa delivered.

An eighth major appeared unlikely following his five-set -- and knee -- struggles in the second and third rounds.

But from the fourth round onward, the 24-year-old Spaniard dropped just one set. He won all the big points.

Most valuable women's player: Serena Williams

Williams didn't drop a set in two weeks and was tested only briefly by the towering trio of Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Li Na.

She fired a women's tournament-record 89 aces.

ESPN analyst and U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez summed up the serve best when she said, "It's got the speed when she needs it, the spin when she needs it, she can slice it, kick it and hit it into the body."

Most disappointing player: Andy Murray

This was Murray's time.

He benefited from a cream puff draw to the quarterfinals and didn't falter. More than ever, his countrymen believed Great Britain's 74-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion would come to an end.

Instead -- and not for the first time -- Murray stumbled. Nadal taught him a lesson in the semis.

At least he outdid England at the World Cup.

Breakthrough performer: Tomas Berdych

Berdych is no longer the biggest underachiever in tennis.

The Czech backed up his French Open with an even better Wimbledon, ending Federer's dominance on the grass. Berdych didn't play a bad match in the final against Nadal, either.

A Grand Slam title must be in his future.

Most worrying development: Federer's health

Federer rubbed a few the wrong way when he, without being prompted, said a sore back and leg contributed to his defeat in the quarterfinals. It was an excuse, Berdych countered.

Breach of etiquette or not, Federer probably wasn't lying. The back has bothered the 16-time Grand Slam champ on and off for years, a bad sign with the Swiss about to turn 29.

Most considerate player: Andy Roddick

Isner revealed that Roddick got him some grub, including pizza, when his match against Mahut was suspended at 59-59 in the fifth. The players toiled for more than seven hours on the opening Wednesday.

"We just went and grabbed him some food that he could actually refuel his body with," Roddick said.

Roddick's ties to food didn't end there. He lost to a chicken catcher's son, Yen-Hsun Lu, in the fourth round. The gutsy Lu deserved to advance.

Biggest upset loss: Venus Williams

Roddick's departure surprised.

Fewer saw Venus' loss to Tsvetana Pironkova coming, despite the Bulgarian winning their tilt at the Australian Open in 2006.

Venus was having a great season, rising to No. 2 in the rankings, had claimed five Wimbledon titles and appeared in three straight finals.

Best verbal volleyer: Lleyton Hewitt

He's on his last legs, but the Aussie still hates to lose.

Hewitt couldn't help but take a shot at Novak Djokovic after he was shown the exit by the dramatic Serb in the fourth round. Djokovic took an injury timeout in the third of four sets because of stomach pain.

"He's always got something, so I wasn't focusing on it at all," Hewitt said.