The Daily Forehand...and need I say, I do very much agree. Especially, Especially! Putting the Russian from Maria in inverted commas...god they've thought of everything!
Li Na's victory at the 2011 French Open showed just how wide open women's tennis is today, and that any number of women are capable of winning a grand slam title. Though things are slightly less open with the return of the Williams sisters and their combined total of nine career Wimbledon singles titles, there's still a lot of possibilites. Here's look at ten of the biggest contenders for the Wimbledon 2011 Ladies' Singles crown (in order of their positions in the draw).
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)  -- Let me be clear about this: Caroline Wozniacki is not going to win Wimbledon. I don't see any way for her to make it past the quarterfinals, and furthermore it's extremely likely that she'll lose in the third round for the second consecutive slam. The only reason she's in this article at all is because she holds the WTA No. 1 ranking. She's a more impressive slamless No. 1 than either Dinara Safina or Jelena Jankovic was, for sure, and she could win a slam some day, but this won't be it. Grass exposes her lack of offense, and she's got a monster of a draw. After a pretty easy first two rounds against Arantxa Parra Santonja and either Virginie Razzano or Sania Mirza, Wozniacki runs into the incredible power of Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova, who gave Venus Williams all she could handle in the fourth round of Wimbledon last year. If she survives that match, she likely gets hard hitting Julia Goerges, who already has beaten Wozniacki twice this year. And if she survives that somehow, she will almost certainly run into Maria Sharapova. Get ready for the hard court season, Caro.
Maria Sharapova ("Russia")  -- Before her impressive run to the French Open semifinals, Maria Sharapova hadn't made the semifinals of a grand slam in over two years. But playing her best tennis in recent memory, Sharapova should cruise in this tournament. She has a rough potential fourth round match up against Samantha Stosur, but Stosur is so streaky on grass that she likely won't even make it to the second week. Sharapova should be able to hande Wozniacki/Gajdosova/Goerges in the quarterfinal, setting up what should be an incredible semifinal against Li Na, Marion Bartoli, or Serena Williams.
Li Na (China)  -- At her highest ever ranking and stepping onto her favorite surface, French Open champion Li Na should like where her game has taken her lately. What she should like less is her draw. The second quarter of the Ladies' Singles bracket is arguably the toughest, and Li will have her hands full from the jump. Her first round opponent is Alla Kudryavtseva, who famously knocked out Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2008 (though hasn't done much since). Next would likely be Sabine Lisicki, a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist who just won the grass warm-up in Birmingham last week. Either Ana Ivanovic or Agnieszka Radwanska could prove tricky in the fourth round, and Serena Williams and Marion Bartoli lurk in the quarterfinals. Li plowed a tough road to get the French Open title last month, and Wimbledon won't be any easier.
Marion Bartoli (France)  -- After a shocking run to the semifinals of her home slam (on her worst surface, no less), Marion Bartoli should be going into Wimbledon with more confidence than ever. As her run to the 2007 Wimbledon final and five straight semifinals in Eastbourne (and her first title there this year) attest, grass is by far her best surface. Her subpar speed isn't as exposed, and the flat angles she gets on her shots are less retrievable. In another part of the draw (the third quarter, namely), Bartoli would be considered a favorite to make the semifinals. But she was drawn into Serena Williams' eighth of the bracket, so her odds of even making the quarters are slim. But if Serena is off her game (and she well could be at some point with her long layoff), Bartoli could definitely take advantage.
Serena Williams (United States)  -- The Wimbledon seeding committee bumped Serena up to the eighth seed (becoming seventh when Kim Clijsters withdrew), which almost seems low considering that she is the two-time defending champion at SW19. While Venus is more of a grass specialist (of sorts), grass has to be considered Serena's best surface as well. But, of course, there's the whole issue of Serena having only played one tournament (this week in Eastbourne) since last winning Wimbledon. That said, her preparation for Wimbledon seems to have been about as good as possible. She played six tough sets of tennis in Eastbourne against Wimbledon 2010 semifinalists, shaking off the rust to survive Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round before falling in three to top-seed Vera Zvonareva. Those matches should prepare her well for her road at Wimbledon, which is is certainly no cakewalk. Serena gets the always dangerous (but struggling) Aravane Rezai in the first round, and then either Simona Halep or Bojana Jovanovski in the second, depending on which makes it out of their first round clash. In the fourth round Serena would face an always tricky (and tough to prepare for) Marion Bartoli, and then a rematch of the 2010 Wimbledon quarterfinal against Li Na. If Serena is going to be the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1993 to win a third consecutive Wimbledon, she's going to have to work for it.
Francesca Schiavone (Italy)  -- Francesca Schiavone made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon back in 2009, but its decidedly her worst surface. Jelena Dokic, who is in the finals of the grass court tournament in 's-Hertogenbosch, could well take her out in the first round. If Dokic doesn't do the deed, Ekaterina Makarova should be able to in the third. And if neither of them can, Andrea Petkovic should be able to hit through her in the fourth round. In any event, Fran's not making it deep into the fortnight.
Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)  -- Vika Azarenka is a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside a Nike dress. She just retired from a match for the FOURTH time in 2011 in Eastbourne this week, so her health could be considered fairly suspect. Grass should suit her game nicely, and none of her recent injuries have been enough to keep her out of action for any prolonged period. Azarenka gets a tough test right away with grass specialist Magdalena Rybarikova in the first round, and another in the third round against the hot Daniela Hantuchova, fresh off a run to the Birmingham final and wins over Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki. This third quarter is there for the taking, though, so if Azarenka can make it past Hantuchova she should be able to make her first career grand slam semifinal.
Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)  -- Wimbledon 2010 semifinalist Petra Kvitova was a popular pick to win her first grand slam title at the French Open, but fell into a long stretch of erraticness in a fourth round loss to eventual champion Li Na. Grass should be even better for her game than clay (as a run to the finals of Eastbourne shows), and she's got a draw that will let her get her feet under her nicely. Her first real challenge would come against Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round, but a quarterfinal against Venus Williams or Vera Zvonareva would be a real challenge for the Czech lefty. The incredible fight she put up against Serena Williams in the semifinal last year proved that she's an incredible fighter, though, and she can't be counted out against anyone in the draw.
Venus Williams (United States)  -- Five-time champion Venus Williams needs little introduction when it comes to Wimbledon. Her seeding of No. 23 may look unimposing, but its the same seed she had when she won the tournament in 2007. Out with an abdominal injury since January, Venus played pretty solidly in her three warm-up matches in Eastbourne, looking pretty sharp given her rust. She's volleying well, serving well, and moving well. So watch out, field. For her resilience, Venus is rewarded with a real tricky draw, against the enormous Akgul Ammanmuradova in the first round, and tricky oldster Kimiko Date-Krumm in the second. In the third round, she gets No. 15 seed Jelena Jankovic, who upset Venus at Wimbledon in 2006. Jankovic is an extremely tough out, and will definitely test Venus' fitness with long rallies. If she gets past Jankovic, Wimbledon 2010 runner-up awaits in the fourth round, followed by Petra Kvitova. A tall order for the tall champion, to be sure.
Vera Zvonareva (Russia)  -- Though she had an incredibly impressive win over Serena Williams in Eastbourne this week, last year's surprise runner up has the odds stacked against her with her Wimbledon draw this year. American grass court superstar Alison Riske is Zvonareva's first round opponent, and she could face Tsvetana Pironkova in the third round, in what would be a rematch of their semifinal last year. If she survives those tests, Venus Williams looms. Vera has been a stellar early rounder at slams recently, though, so she could definitely pull off a surprise or two.
I would like to re instate, this article is NOT mine, just for the purposes of hatin' and what not. Anyway, The Daily Forehand also did an interesting piece on six day 1 matches to keep an eye on.