Wimbledon: Who is Marija Cicak? 1st woman to chair men's singles final breaks century-old tradition
Marija Cicak has had officiated at Wimbledon for 15 years and has earlier chaired a men's semi-final
As Novak Djokovic competes to secure his third consecutive Wimbledon win, his opponent Matteo Berrettini would score his first Grand Slam title should he come out triumphant. But that won't be the only highlight of the tennis tournament's finals on July 11, as Wimbledon has already made history with the chair umpire to officiate the men's singles final.
Marija Cicak is the first woman in Wimbledon's 114-year old history to be officiating a men's singles final. Djokovic and Berrittini are playing against each other at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. With 19 Grand Slam wins, Djokovic is just one Grand Slam win away from Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal, with a record 325 weeks ranked No. 1 as of June this year. But clearly, he's not the only hero as Cicak's popularity is also soaring.
Who is Marija Cicak?
The name Marija Cicak has already become a household name ahead of the anticipation surrounding Djokovic and Berrettini's face-off. Cicak, 43, has already spent 15 illustrious years at the tournament. Originally from Croatia, Cicak umpired at the 2014 Wimbledon women's final that saw Petra Kvitova beat Eugenie Bouchard. Cicak's accomplished career has also seen her officiate the women’s singles gold medal match at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and twice before at the Athens, and London Olympics.
Cicak also officiated the 2017 Wimbledon women’s doubles finals. Her stay in the game has been running non-stop, consecutively, since she first started officiating for Wimbledon. She has also officiated 10 year-end WTA finals along with her Wimbledon stint and is now the first woman ever to chair a men's final. The elite ITF Gold Badge holder for ten years had also officiated the Wimbledon men's semi-final between John Isner and Kevin Anderson in 2018.
Cicak used to play tennis before umpiring
While traditionally men's matches are overseen by male umpires, Cicak's vast career and expertise in umpiring have earned her the historic achievement. Before she became an umpire, Cicak was a tennis player herself in her youth. She obtained her first official certificate for working in national tournaments at the young age of 15. "I think I was simply born for sports. Whatever it was, I was always ready to try it. I trained karate, table tennis, handball, swimming ... That's how I started playing tennis. I was six years old. My uncle persuaded my mother to try it. At the age of 12, I started playing tournaments," Cicak told WTA tennis.
Speaking about her journey, she further added: “I only worked on the lines or in a chair and I would play low-level tournaments for myself, just for fun and I really enjoyed it,” added Cicak, who stopped playing tennis at the age of 18 to study. "It's not so easy to pursue a sports career here and go to university at the same time. It's a different system than what it's like in the US, and to be honest, I just wanted to focus on other things, not play tennis." Cicak is also reportedly dating professional tennis player Mona Barthel, according to CelebHook.com. Germany-born Barthel, 31, has won four doubles and three singles in the WTA.