With no dominant lady baller in sight, the draw at Wimbledon, like the Aussie and French Opens this year, remains a free-for-all with a number of women favored to grab the title. And, even though the WTA Tour has a new number one in Ana Ivanovic, this is grass - rankings & seedings can go right out the window. Just ask Venus Williams…
Last year, V became the lowest seed and lowest ranked baller to ever hoist the Wimbledon trophy, the fourth time overall for the former no. 1. She may arrive on the grounds with little in the way of match play and her game may falter on other surfaces (most recently during her French Open third round loss), but when those EleVen-designed sneaks hit the green turf her serve is smacking, her forehand ferocious and her net game neutralizes anyone on the other side. V’s the most dominant grass-courter of her generation and a fifth title is well within her (long) reach.
Lil’ sis Serena is no stranger to the winner’s circle at The All-England Club having been the champion here in 2002 and 2003 besting her sister in both encounters. ReRe had been on serious run this year with three titles (Bangalore, Miami, Charleston) before suffering a shocking third round loss to Katarina Srebotnik at Roland Garros. But never one to dwell in the past, the 8-time Grand Slammer’s power game and superior serve are ideal for the quick skidding grass not to mention her world-class athleticism. ReRe’s been drawn on the opposite side to her sister so they could only meet in the final and with her conqueror last year, Justine Henin, happily retired a final meeting is a very real possibility this year.
Someone who’s familiar with battling and beating ReRe at Wimbledon is Maria “Shriek”apova. The 2004 champion began the year with a dominating run to the Aussie Open title and continued with wins in Doha and Amelia Island. But like V + ReRe, Maria was bundled (and booed) out of the French Open earlier than expected. She’ll be more than happy to be back on the grass, however, where her flat, penetrating groundstrokes are at their most lethal and first-strike tennis is rewarded. But her serve has been inconsistent most noticeably at Roland Garros where double-digit double faults became the norm for the Russian. If her serve is on the way it was in 2004, she could make her second trip to the final Saturday. If it’s off, however, Maria could be reliving Paris all over again.
The newly crowned French Open champion and current world no. 1 Ana Ivanovic is living the dream. The sexy Serb arrives at Wimbledon as the top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time and a newfound belief in her game. Ana has shown all year that when the going gets tough, she gets going (just ask Daniela Hantuchova) and she owns the best forehand in the women’s game. But her serve can be inconsistent and she can be overpowered by bigger, stronger foes, which could pose a problem for her on the quick grass. The draw gods were kind to the 20-year old, though: Russia's Anna Chakvetadze is the highest seed in her quarter. A potential semifinal meeting with Serena Williams could be waiting in the wings for Ana.
Call me crazy but I’m picking Lindsay Davenport as my darkhorse this fortnight. The 1999 champion hasn’t been playing much lately and just pulled from Eastbourne with a knee injury. But she has the experience and weapons to make a run here. She could have a tricky third round meeting with French Open finalist Dinara Safina, who admittedly isn’t fond of the grass, and a potential quarterfinal Marquee Matchup with Maria “Shriek”apova. But with nothing to lose and her personal life in great shape, Lindsay can really swing for the fences and if a few hit the lines in key moments during the next two weeks, who knows?
Click here for the full women’s draw.
(image via Getty)