World No. 1 Serena Williams is the prohibitive favorite to win her sixth Wimbledon title this year — but her odds of raising the trophy at the All England Club are diminishing slightly.
The younger of the Williams sisters is not above a mental breakdown, which she showed last year when she came into Roland Garros overconfident and lost in the first round amidst mid-match tears. We saw it again earlier this month when she won the French Open, in the quarterfinals looking like she was going to burst into tears mid-match when challenged by Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The latest issue of Rolling Stone features an interview with Serena where she stirs numerous pots — accusing fellow Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova of being “boring” and going on and on about her boyfriend, who is an ex of Serena. She also weighs in on the high-profile rape case of a 16 year old, with the subtext that the girl deserved it because she was drunk, the parents were at fault, and the penalty to the rapists was too harsh (which she subsequently apologized for on her website, then paid a visit to the family).
There are no opponents that can currently hang with Serena’s court movement and power, especially on grass, but Serena herself is evening the playing field, distracting herself with her own self-appointed dramas. The Wimbledon press are going to hound her to death during the first week of play.
Lucky for Serena, her Wimbledon draw gives her a relatively soft start until facing No. 28 Tamira Paszek in the third round, then likely No. 14 Sam Stosur or No. 23 Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.
Upset alerts to watch for in Serena’s first quarter of the draw in the opening round are (23) Lisicki vs. Slam champ Francesca Schiavone (the current Wimbledon grass conditions should feel like clay to her), (10) Maria Kirilenko vs. the home-crowd supported Laura Robson, (24) Shuai Peng vs. veteran Anabel Medina Garrigues, (31) Romina Oprandi vs. (WC) American Alison Riske, and (7) Angie Kerber vs. American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Serena’s semifinal opponent coming out of the second quarter will likely be unimpressive between the bunter (4) Aggie Radwanska, (6) Na Li who is slumping, and (13) Nadia Petrova leading the pack.
Upset alerts in second quarter openers are (21) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. grasscourt specialist Tsvetana Pironkova, (32) Klara Zakopalova vs. Daniela Hantuchova, and (6) Li vs. former grasscourt title winner Michaella Krajicek.
The No. 3 seed Sharapova is the top dog in the third quarter, with (5) Sara Errani, (9) Caroline Wozniacki, (15) Marion Bartoli, and Croatian teen sensation Donna Vekic among the opposition.
Sharapova, who many are picking to oppose Serena in the final, opens against France’s Kristina Mladenovic, and could meet (27) Lucie Safarova, Bartoli and Woz before the semifinals.
Upset alerts in the third quarter are (17) Sloane Stephens vs. Jamie Hampton in an all-American tussle, and (9) Wozniacki vs. Vekic in the second round.
No. 2 Victoria Azarenka headlines the bottom quarter, where former champ (8) Petra Kvitova, and Serbs (12) Ana Ivanovic and (16) Jelena Jankovic also reside. Azarenka will likely meet (29) Alize Cornet in the third round and Jankovic in the fourth round.
A Serena vs. Sharapova final is likely, if Serena can block out the off-court distractions. In the S.I. article Serena spoke of Sharapova as would a fellow catty high school student, saying she was ‘boring’ and ‘won’t get invited to all the cool parties.’ Yes, she actually said that.
This week Sharapova retaliated in the media, noting Serena’s high-minded judgements coming from someone who was at one point dating a married man on the sly (her current coach).
“I was definitely sad to hear what [Serena] had to say about the whole [rape] case,” Sharapova said. “If [Serena] wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend [coach Patrick Mouratoglou] that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids.”
Meow ladies. Let’s tuck into some strawberries and cream and get ready to watch the grasscourt and verbal volleys fly starting Monday.
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