Ball in Serena’s camp at Wimbledon with doubts about the fitness of her rivals

Serena Williams turns 40 on September 26, and the arrival of this historic anniversary will be all the sweeter if she finally tied Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

The tennis legend might even hold the record if she wins both Wimbledon and the US Open, but although she remains in the top 10, there are concerns that age will affect her powers.

A fourth round loss at Roland Garros to Kazakh 21st seed Elena Rybakina reflected this even though clay is her least favorite surface despite three titles at Roland Garros.

However, her chances of winning an eighth Wimbledon title improved with the withdrawals of world number two Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, who beat her in the 2019 final.

It was one of four Grand Slam finals that Williams has played since claiming a controversial Court record title at the 2017 Australian Open.

American tennis legend Chris Evert believes Williams is still capable of winning at Wimbledon, where she was the losing finalist on her last two visits.

“Like Roger Federer, I would give Serena a better chance at Wimbledon because the grass is perfect for her game,” Evert told Eurosport ahead of the French Open.

“On the grass, if Serena is in good shape and that serve is working, then it’s half the game there.

“She has that experience and that flexibility.”

Evert, however, concedes that like any great champion who seems vulnerable, all of her opponents suddenly have hopes of beating her.

“The players are better now than they were two years ago and they’re not intimidated,” said the 66-year-old, 18-time Grand Slam singles champion.

“They all feel they have a chance against Serena.”

Williams’ first round opponent Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus may be the world number 100, but she reached the last 16 in 2018, beating two-time champion Petra Kvitova in the process.

World number one Ashleigh Barty will go to Wimbledon without a grass warm-up tournament.

However, she says she has recovered from the hip injury that forced her to withdraw from Roland Garros.

The 25-year-old has the added motivation of being the 50th birthday of her native Australian compatriot Evonne Goolagong Cawley who won the first of her two Wimbledon titles.

Barty – who won the Wimbledon junior title in 2011 – will start on center court on Tuesday in what is sure to be an emotional encounter with Carla Suarez Navarro.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, who is playing her last Wimbledon, has made a remarkable comeback this year after an eight-month battle with cancer.

Barty, although she’s never made it further than round four, says she dreams of winning the title.

“Someday I would love to be the champion here,” she said. “It’s a dream. It’s a goal.

“Dreams don’t always come true, but you can fight back and do all you can to give yourself this opportunity.”

Barbora Krejcikova is the best player after her surprise triumph at Roland Garros.

Grass, however, is a foreign surface to the 25-year-old Czech, but she did her research after discussing it with her late compatriot and former coach Jana Novotna (1998 Wimbledon champion) and legend Martina Navratilova.

“I haven’t really played that many matches on grass,” said Krejcikova, who is facing 18-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark for the first time.

“I never played the main draw.

“Everything is new. But I’m just trying to have fun. I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

One player who will remind spectators how fun it was to watch tennis before the coronavirus will be American teenager Coco Gauff.

At 15, she lit up the 2019 tournament on and off the pitch after reaching the bottom 16 after passing qualifying.

Two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin believes Gauff, ranked 23rd in the world and whose first-round opponent is British wild card Francesca Jones, will shine again.

“She will be a sensation again,” Austin told Wimbledon.com.

“She has a wealth of experience and has now won titles.

“She’s going to go back there as a seed and she’s going to go deep.”

Source: News24

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