The third slam of the year gets underway on Monday with a wide-open competition on the grass at Wimbledon. World No.1 and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty goes into the tournament as the bookmaker’s favourite but the likes of Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, if fit, will have other ideas.
Full draw here: Wimbledon women’s 2019 Draw
If Barty is going to earn a second straight slam, she is going to have to do it the hard way with a nightmare draw lined up for her. She is a top grass court player and backed that up with the title in Birmingham before withdrawing from Eastbourne to rest up. The first two rounds are fairly straight forward but after that she could face a former champion in Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza is still struggling to return to her best but showed signs of life in Paris before falling to Sloane Stephens in the fourth round. Donna Vekic remains a dangerous prospect on the grass, having made the Nottingham final for the second year in the last three while Belinda Bencic is a former girls champion and has looked to be getting back to her best in 2019. The 13th seed made the final of Mallorca, beating last year’s Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber along the way.
If she is fit and healthy, Serena Williams remains the one to beat this fortnight. However, her body is continuing to be more and more unreliable as the years go on. She was ousted in fairly undramatic circumstances at Paris, losing to Sofia Kenin in the third round. The draw is great for Serena as she will be able to ease her way into the tournament with two qualifiers potentially to begin with. She plays Italian vet Giulia Gatto-Monticone and then could play youngster Kaja Juvan. The first tough matchup for her would be against Julia Goerges, who was a losing finalist in Birmigham. They faced off at the semi final stage here last year with Serena coming through in fairly easy fashion. It will be the players who can move Serena around and make her work hard that will trouble her, as Angelique Kerber did in last year’s final. It’s a shame that the rematch will be a fourth round clash if it happens, with the German rounding off the first quarter. Maria Sharapova is also here as a possible third round opponent for Kerber. The German won 6-2 6-3 in their meeting in Mallorca earlier this month.
In the best form of her career, Kiki Bertens suffered a heartbreaking injury in Paris that scuppered her chances of a title that many had placed her as the favourite to win. It was only a minor injury but enough to force an early withdrawal at the French Open. In her warmups, she was a finalist in the Netherlands and a semi finalist in Eastbourne, losing to the eventual winner Karolina Pliskova. Bertens wouldn’t be considered a top player on the grass but her quarter final from last year shows she shouldn’t be ruled out. She beat Venus Williams and Pliskova on the way there, tougher players than the seeded ones in her section this year. Qiang Wang has won a match in just one of her four visits to Wimbledon while Lesia Tsurenko’s power is generally figured out quite quickly by the top level players.
Petra Kvitova is currently placed to round off the top seeds from the top half of the draw but her participation has to be in doubt due to an arm injury. The two-time champion withdrew from Birmingham with an arm injury and has not played since Rome. The Czech’s consistency has improved a great deal and it would be a shame for her to miss this tournament, which would be open for a run from her. Kvitova already has a slam final to her name this year having made it in Melbourne where she beat Amanda Anisimova amongst others on the way. Anisimova made her mark at the French Open with a semi final run and will now be in a seeded spot thanks to that performance. Johanna Konta was also a semi finalist in Paris and will look to build on that with a run here but she will need to improve from her performance against Ons Jabeur at Eastbourne, losing to the Tunisian in surprisingly easy fashion. Sloane Stephens closes out this loaded section, looking to avoid going out in the first round at SW19 for the third year running. An opening match against Timea Bacsinszky should see her avoid disappointment this time round.
Elina Svitolina has to be amongst the most vulnerable seeds in the draw, having struggled for form since her return from injury. She has won just one of six since returning in Madrid and lost both her grass matches in the run up to this tournament, getting beaten by Margarita Gasparyan and Alize Cornet. The Ukranian won’t have it easy to start with either, facing Daria Gavrilova before a potential rematch with Gasparyan. 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova will look to take advantage here but it may well be Petra Martic that advances from this section. The Croatian built on her French Open semi final run with a strong performance at Birmingham, making the semi finals there before losing to Julia Goerges.
The woman that beat Martic in that French Open match is also in this quarter but Marketa Vondrousova‘s grass record currently leaves a lot to be desired with two Wimbledon first round exits so far in her career. She was thrashed by Sachia Vickery this time last year and lost early in Eastbourne, getting beaten in three by Elise Mertens. Karolina Pliskova firmly placed herself as one of the favourites with a great run in Eastbourne to take the title, beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets in the final. The Czech looks to have a perfect grass court game but has struggled to put it together at Wimbledon, despite multiple titles on grass elsewhere. If she is to beat her career best fourth round, she may well have to beat a inconsistent but potentially dangerous Jelena Ostapenko or Su Wei Hsieh while Anett Kontaveit is a possibility in round four.
Naomi Osaka could find herself in trouble early on with the former No.1 not quite comfortable on the grass just yet with just two third rounds to her name so far at Wimbledon. Whether the dramatic improvement she experienced on other surfaces occurs here is doubtful just yet but there’s no reason why she doesn’t have the game for another strong run at a slam. She will have the opportunity for revenge against Yulia Putintseva in round one after losing to her early on in Birmingham. If she navigates that tricky matchup it could be a productive tournament for her with Caroline Wozniacki and Sofia Kenin standing between her and a quarter final spot. Kenin should be confident though after winning Mallorca and showed her big match chops with a victory over Serena Williams at the French Open.
Madison Keys will once again be one to watch at Wimbledon, showing herself to often be a big tournament performer despite a lack of big results elsewhere. Her best performance at Wimbledon is only a quarter final run back in 2015, bettered by her at all three other slams. Her section of the draw could show up some interesting matchups including either Keys against Aryna Sabalenka or Venus Williams. The former champion plays Cori Gauff in one of the best stories of the draw, with Venus having 24 years on her opening round opponent. Simona Halep caps off the top 8 seeds but is unlikely to be seen as one of the favourites for the title. She did make it to at least the last eight in three of the last five years but is always vulnerable against the power players, especially on this surface.
Prediction – Serena Williams defeats Karolina Pliskova