Serena Williams last took the court in a Grand Slam tennis tournament a few weeks ago at the French Open in Paris and was embarrassed in the first round. Despite that fact and that Serena hasn't won a Slam since 2010, she is the Bovada 11-4 co-favorite to capture her fifth Wimbledon title. The grass-court tournament starts Monday in England.
Serena was stunned in Paris, where she was the pre-tournament odds-on favorite, by 111th-ranked Virgine Razzano 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 on the red clay at Roland Garros. Serena had never lost a first-round match in 46 previous Grand Slams. She even led 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker vs. Razzano, before dropping the next 13 points in a row. Williams had entered having won her previous 17 matches, although she did have to withdraw from the warm-up at the Italian Open with a bad back.
Serena, who has been battling injuries for more than a year, has 13 all-time Grand Slam titles, with her last coming in 2010 at Wimbledon for her second straight there and fourth overall. Last year, Serena had played only two matches all year due to injury before Wimbledon and she was bounced in the fourth round in straight sets by Marion Bartoli.
Maria Sharapova (also 11-4), meanwhile, completed the career Grand Slam with the French Open championship and is back as the No. 1 player in the world for the first time since May 2009. She overpowered Sara Errani, in her first Slam final, 6-3, 6-2, in Paris. Only nine other women in history have won each of the Slams – including Serena. Sharapova also won the 2004 Wimbledon, 2006 U.S. Open and 2008 Australian Open championships.
The Russian lost in the final of Wimbledon, her first time back there since that '04 title, in 2011 to Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-4. Kvitova, who is 10/3 to repeat, was playing in her first Grand Slam final and was the first left-handed woman to win the Wimbledon title since Martina Navratilova in 1990.
Kvitova has struggled this year as she is without a title. She was routed by Sharapova in the semifinals of the French Open, 6-3, 6-3, and was bounced from the first round of the Wimbledon tune-up AEGON Invitational in the first round. No player not named Serena or Venus Williams has repeated at Wimbledon since Steffi Graf in 1995-96.
Speaking of Venus, the five-time Wimbledon champion is 20-1 to win this year. Venus has had to fight through an illness, an incurable autoimmune disease called Sjögren's syndrome, since last year. Venus, who last won this tournament by beating Serena in 2008, has yet to get past the quarterfinals of any tournament in 2012 and was blown out in the second round of the French Open. Some are speculating this could be the final Wimbledon for the 32-year-old. Venus hasn't reached the final of any Slam event since losing to Serena at Wimbledon in 2009.
Victoria Azarenka was the No. 1 player in the world before losing that spot to Sharapova with a defeat in the fourth round of the French Open. Azarenka won her first Grand Slam tournament back in January at the Australian Open. In fact, that was her first final in a major. She had a career-best finish of the semifinals at last year's Wimbledon and is a 6-1 favorite to win this year.
Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters (20-1) was a favorite last year at Wimbledon and the No. 2 seed heading in, but she had to withdraw due to a foot injury, and injuries have plagued her into this year. Clijsters, a four-time Grand Slam champion, has only played once in the past four years at Wimbledon (she also retired for a while). Her career-best finish is the semifinals. She plans to retire for good after the U.S. Open. Clijsters returned from a three-month injury absence (hip) to play in this week’s grass-court warm-up tournament in the Netherlands.