Friday, June 17, 2011
American Venus Williams, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 Wimbledon Ladies Champion
Serena Williams will return to Centre Court almost exactly 50 weeks after she won her fourth Wimbledon title, opening her 2011 campaign against France's Aravane Rezai.
Williams, seeded seventh after the withdrawal of Kim Clijsters, won the opening match of her comeback in Eastbourne before losing out to Vera Zvonareva in a repeat of last year's Championships final, and will be closely monitored when she plays her first match on Monday.
The former world No.1 has faced the talented Frenchwoman just once in competition, rallying from a set down to defeat the current world No.56 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the pre-Australian Open tournament in Sydney in 2010. And so Rezai will not be a cakewalk for the four-time Wimbledon Champion, especially given the latter's lack of match fitness.
American Althea Gibson, 1957 and 1958 Wimbledon Ladies Champion
Sitting alongside Williams in the top half of the draw is current world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, who will open her grass court season against Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja, the world No.107. Wozniacki, who comes into Wimbledon with 17 titles under her belt in what has still been a relatively short career, will once again be the focus of much attention on the lawns of SW19 as she attempts to win her first Grand Slam title.
But in order to do so, she will have to contend with Maria Sharapova, her opposite number in the top quarter of the draw. Viewed by many as a favourite for this year's title, Sharapova is deemed to have finally fully recovered from the shoulder injury that has blighted her for the past two years, and comes into Wimbledon fighting fit and full of confidence at what is one of her favourite Grand Slams. She opens against fellow Russian, world No.50 Anna Chakvetadze.
Should Sharapova triumph, she will face the winner of world No.77 Angelique Kerber against former junior Champion Laura Robson, awarded a wild card into The Championships this year. Fellow Brit Heather Watson, who broke into the top 100 last week, is also in the top half of the draw, meeting world No.64 Mathilde Johansson, as is British No.1 Elena Baltacha, who plays a qualifier. Emily Webley-Smith faces Klara Zakopalova.
American Serena Williams, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010 Wimbledon Ladies Champion
French Open champion Li Na joked that she would be forgotten in China if she doesn't do well at Wimbledon, and so she should be pleased at a first-round match up with world No.70 Alla Kudryavtseva. But danger lies in the prospect of a second round meeting with the in-form wild card Sabine Lisicki, quarter-finalist at The Championships in 2009, who won the warm-up event at the Edgbaston Priory Club last week.
Ana Ivanovic, who plays American Melanie Oudin, Marion Bartoli, who meets a qualifier, and Agnieszka Radwanska, who will face Olga Govortsova, are other notable names in the top half of the draw.
2010 finalist Zvonareva occupies the top spot in the bottom half of the draw, as the No.2 seed, and will open against talented American Alison Riske. The world No.118 broke onto the scene at last year's AEGON Classic in Edgbaston, qualifying and powering her way to the semi-finals, so could provide a brief speed bump for the Russian. Last year's surprise semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova is also in Zvonareva's section, as is five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, seeded at No.23. Williams meets Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan in the first round, with Britain's Katie O'Brien or the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm a potential second-round opponent.
Speaking of British players, Wimbledon will be guaranteed at least one "local" in the second round as former British No.1 Anne Keothavong and wild card Naomi Broady meet in the first round. The winner could play Petra Kvitova, the exciting Czech prospect who battled her way to the 2010 semi-finals, in the second round. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic also feature in the lower quarter of the draw's bottom half.
2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone could have a handful to deal with when she takes on Jelena Dokic, no stranger to causing an upset at SW19, while 2010 Eastbourne winner Ekaterina Makarova against highly-touted American Christina McHale is certainly one to watch.
The in-form Daniela Hantuchova meets a qualifier, while fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, the highest seed in the third quarter, will have to get past Magdalena Rybarikova.Witty German Andrea Petkovic, talented youngster Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and shock 2010 quarter-finalist Kaia Kanepi are other seeds to watch out for.
The bottom half of the women's draw are scheduled to play their first-round matches on Monday, with the top half due to commence on Tuesday.