Venus Williams could become the oldest Wimbledon champion
Muguruza won first Wimbledon title
If it felt like something was missing from last year’s Wimbledon, it was. Actually, she was. And “she” was Serena Williams. While there was still a Williams in the finals match on the grass-court Grand Slam, it was older sister Venus, not the defending champion. Little sister Serena, who won back-to-back titles at the All England Club in 2015 and 2016, was pregnant and just two months away from having her first child last season.
That meant it was Venus across the net from eventual champ Garbine Muguruza. It took Murguruza just one hour and 17 minutes to beat Venus 7-5, 6-0.
2017 was a bit of an odd year for women’s tennis as two of its world No.1s were missing from action for much (or all) of the season. Along with William’s pregnancy, the women’s tour was without Maria Sharapova, who was banned due to steroids.
But that was then. This is 2018 and Williams, whose drop in the rankings due to delivering a baby was heavily criticized, will be seeded. The seven-time Wimbledon champ is the 25th seed, one spot behind Sharapova.
Will Serena or Sharapova Shine?
Muguruza won two Grand Slam trophies in as many years: the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017. But beyond that, she’s been pretty inconsistent, winning a sole title this year. The Spaniard is 21-11 this season but still claims the World No. 3 ranking. (She is also the Wimbledon 2015 runner-up to S. Williams.)
But forget the rankings, Serena is back and she’ll be the big draw. Williams withdrew from the Australian Open saying she wasn’t ready and then withdrew from Roland Garros with an injury before a highly-anticipated fourth round match against Maria Sharapova. Now, everyone is hoping she has a better showing than her early exits at Indian Wells and Miami.
After the French Open tease, fans definitely want to see the two biggest stars in the sport back on the same court again.
And while we wouldn’t recommend you count Williams out at a tournament she’s won seven times, who else should you keep an eye on in the women’s draw?
A Handful of Former Grand Slam Champions
Caroline Wozniacki won the French Open this year, but success on the fast-hard packed clay doesn’t always transfer to the slower grass of Wimbledon.
Former Grand Slam champions Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens could all face the defending champion in the semifinals. And while Halep just hoisted her first Grand Slam trophy in Paris, a 2014 semifinal appearance is her best to date.
Maybe Sloane Stephens then? Despite picking up her first Slam at the US Open last season and then making it to the finals at the French this year, she had an opening-round exit at Wimbledon last season.
While Jelena Ostapenko won the French Open in 2017, she actually has taken home a singles title at Wimbledon before. She was the 2014 junior singles champion but hasn’t had much success on the surface recently
And sure, Caroline Wozniacki won the French Open this year, but success on the fast-hard packed clay doesn’t always transfer to the slower grass of Wimbledon. Wozniacki, the No. 2 seed and World No. 2, has never made it beyond the fourth round on at the All England Club. Her style of play doesn’t translate well as evidenced by her four fourth-round appearances in six tries.
An Open Field
Maybe it will be a complete unknown to win Wimbledon for the women. Maybe Petra Kvitova who won her grass-court warm-up tournament, the Birmingham Classic. Or keep an eye on Karolina Pliskova who was stunned in the quarterfinals of the Eastbourne International in a three-set thriller.
The bottom line is: Serena Williams is no longer the dominant force. And Sharapova isn’t always battling her either so the women’s field is as wide open as it’s been in, well, when was the last time you remember life without Serena Williams?