Maria Sharapova will begin her Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday, playing Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier for a spot in the second round. Sharapova will be eager to have a long run at the tournament, having struggled for large parts of the decade. She was a semi finalist in 2015 before her two years of absence, then returned with a first round loss last year.
Parmentier should not pose too much of a threat against a rusty Sharapova and should find herself overwhelmed by the Russian. She did win a match in Eastbourne as a lucky loser but also had two attempts at beating Polona Hercog, falling in three to the Slovenian in the second qualifying round and second round proper.
Sharapova has played just three tournaments this year – Australian Open, St Petersburg and Mallorca. She made the fourth round in the first of those and withdrew in the second due to injury. She finally made her return over 4 months later in Mallorca, opening with a win over Viktoria Kuzmova. She was outplayed by Angelique Kerber in the next round, something that has to be a concern if she wants to remain competitive with the stronger players on tour. “[My shoulder] is doing well. I took this time in order to come back to my first event and feel like I have a really good chance at it,” she said prior to that event. “Being away from the game for a few months is always challenging, because you miss a lot of things, but from a shoulder perspective, I’m giving it a really good chance here. Every match is going to be a really good test.”
Prediction – Maria Sharapova in straight sets