Wimbledon Favourite WilliamsThe Dominant Force In Women’s Tennis
Serena Williams is the favourite to win the Women’s Singles title this year, with odds of 1/2 from bookmaker Paddy Power. The top seeded 31-year-old American remains the female titan of the game after a stellar career that includes 16 Grand Slam titles. With a further two singles titles under her belt, she will match the record of 1980’s greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova although Williams acknowledges that “It’s so close but yet it’s still so far” she says “I think the competition’s getting really tough and every one I win, I’m just learning to savour that moment”. Her hunger for more titles has not abated, however and she says “I definitely want to continue my journey to get a few more”.
Since she was defeated in the first round of the 2012 French Open Williams has won three of the last four majors – Wimbledon, (winning against Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 in 2012), the US Open (beating Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5), and the French Open (demolishing Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4), becoming the oldest woman to win at Roland Garros in the process. This resurgence in form is partly down to her change of coach to Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou (who is now her boyfriend as well). Possible opponents at the Semi-Finals include Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland (4) and Li Na of China (6). Serena Williams has won five singles titles at Wimbledon, and there is no doubt that her opponents will view her with considerable caution during the course of the two week Championship. Her first match of the championship will be against unseeded Mandy Minella – good luck, Mandy!
Maria Sharapova (3) and Victoria Azarenka (2) are favourites to join Williams in the Women’s Singles Final with odds of 11/2 that Sharapova will win the championship from bookmaker Stan James, and odds of 8/1 from the same bookmaker for an Azarenka win. Sharapova was recently beaten by Williams in the final of the French Open and the 4-6, 4-6 defeat clearly rankles with the 26-year-old Russian who cattily commented after the match “I think if I was built like Serena I hope I’d be able to hit a big serve like that, too”. Sharapova won her first and only Wimbledon title back in 2004 against Williams, and has four Grand Slam titles to her name. However, she has lost 13 consecutive games against Williams, most recently the final of the French Open, so she will have to step up a few gears if she plays Williams at the Wimbledon Final this year.
23-year-old Victoria Azarenka has won two consecutive Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013. The Belarusian was recently defeated in the final of the Italian Open by Williams, and reached the Semi-Final of the French Open only to be thwarted by Sharapova. The “trivalry” between the top three seeds is well-recorded, but it is true to say that Azarenka has a losing record against the American. They have met 14 times and Williams leads way to 12 wins to Azarenka’s two.
Luckily for Sharapova and Azarenka, they are in the second part of the draw and would play each other in the Semi-Final before one of them facing Willams in the Final. Sharapova will play unseeded Kristina Mladenovic of France in her first match, while Azarenka will face unseeded Maria Koehler.
Many ardent Wimbledon fans are hopeful that British Number 1 and World Number 37, Laura Robson, will progress to the second week of the tournament to challenge the top seeds. 19-year-old Robson exited last year’s Wimbledon after the first round and her progress in the past 12 months has been patchy. She will be glad not to play Dane Caroline Wozniacki in the early stages of the tournament, having been defeated by her twice in the past three weeks – firstly in a 4-6, 4-6 defeat at the French Open and again at the quarter-finals of the Aegon International at Eastbourne earlier this week, with the same score. Despite being disconsolate at her losses, Robson commented “You have to look at the positives ahead of next week. I’m going to get back to Wimbledon and have a good couple of days’ practice”. She will have a tough first-round match against number 10 seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia and, if successful, she will then play either qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino or unseeded Julia Goerges. At present, Robson is a 200/1 chance to win at Wimbledon, from bookmaker BoyleSports.
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