The Reuters global sports blog
Don’t bet against Serena defending Wimbledon crown
For most players the idea of returning from a year out with injury and illness a week before Wimbledon and then defending your title would be impossible.
But, then again, Serena Williams in not any old player.
The 29-year-old American, the dominant force in women’s tennis for a decade, has taken a wildcard for next week’s Eastbourne grasscourt tournament and then will head to the All England Club, not just for appearances, but to win a fifth title there and draw level with older sister Venus who is also returning from a six-month lay-off.
While Eastbourne organisers will be rubbing their hands together, and the WTA Tour welcomes back the 13-times grand slam champion, the sight of Serena with a racket in her hand again will frighten the life out of some of her potential rivals.
Such is Serena’s presence around the grand slams that even at 60 percent of her powers she would be a handful, particularly at Wimbledon where the softer under-foot conditions will be less demanding on the foot she sliced open on broken glass last July, triggering a turn of events that threatened her career.
Since then Serena suffered life-threatening blood clots on her lung but, with a clean bill of health, she is back and will be dangerous.
While she will have just a handful of matches at best under her belt when she walks out on opening Tuesday to begin the defence of her Wimbledon title, the street-fighter instincts that have made her such a great champion will more than make up for being under-cooked.
The seeding committee have a dilemma when they arrange the order for the women’s draw. Now ranked down in the 20s she is bound to be bumped up which is probably a relief to some of the other top seeds fearful of an early clash with the American who, as she has proved from the day she began hitting balls on park courts in Compton, never ducks a challenge.
With the women’s game in a state of flux despite the positive vibes around Li Na’s French Open title, it needs Serena back, even if just to remind the likes of world number one Caroline Wozniacki and wannabees like Victoria Azarenka just what it takes to be a grand slam champion.
The next few weeks should be worth watching as the thought of Serena on a mission should make great viewing and for the betting fans out there, the odds on an all-Williams final could well be shortening fast.