Among the 128 players who will contend to become the 2016 ladies’ singles champion, only three have previously lifted the prestigious Venus Rosewater Dish on the final Saturday.
One of them is Serena Williams, and while her six-previous Wimbledon titles and long stint as world No.1 make her the undeniable favourite in 2016, a seventh title is far from a straightforward feat for the defending champion.
In her 17th campaign at the All England Club, Serena first faces an unknown prospect in either a qualifier or a lucky loser. Her second round opponent will be either Christina McHale orDaniela Hantuchova, and then the world No.1 may face Heather Watson, who famously pushed Serena in an intense three-set battle at the same stage of the 2015 Championships. First the popular local would need to progress pastKristina Mladenovic, the No.31 seed, in the second round.
Another difficult re-match for Serena could be against the No.6 seed Roberta Vinci, who memorably ended the American’s quest to claim an historic calendar-year Grand Slam with a semi-final upset at the 2015 US Open. If both progress so far at the 2016 Championships, they would meet in the quarter-finals.
The path is equally challenging for two-time champion Petra Kvitova in the top half of the women’s draw. The winner in 2011 and 2014, the 26-year-old Czech faces a dangerous first-round opponent in Sorana Cirstea, who returns to the All England Club after an injury absence in 2015. Having dropped outside the world’s top 10 after an inconsistent first half of 2016, Kvitova could also face former finalists Agnieszka Radwanskaand Eugenie Bouchard if she progresses to the final.
Venus Williams, a five-time champion and the No.8 seed, is contesting Wimbledon for the 19th time. She meets Donna Vekic in the opening round before a possible second-round meeting with either Zheng Saisai or a qualifier