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Serena is favorite for Wimbledon

In her latest column for wtatennis.com, Martina Navratilova discusses the prospect of Serena Williams matching Margaret Court's record of 24 majors in an extensive preview of Wimbledon.

 

Serena Williams is the World No. 183; she's also my favorite for Wimbledon. Perhaps you think I'm totally crazy, but then who would you put above Serena?

Her ranking is completely irrelevant. Whatever the computer says, Serena isn't really the 183rd best player in the world; as everyone knows, she only has that low ranking because she is a new mother, with this only the fourth tournament of her comeback. She could be the World No.1,000 and I would still put her as my favorite for the Venus Rosewater Dish.

When you look at everybody else in the draw with ambitions of winning the title, you feel as though things have to go right for them because on their bad days they can lose to people they shouldn't lose to. But with Serena you always feel as though she is going to pull it out somehow. Her bad days perhaps aren't as bad as other people's bad days - she somehow wills herself to win better than others, and she loves a fight. In fact, she thrives on a fight. With Serena, you feel as though things don't have to go her way, other than not getting hurt, for her to win the title.

I wrote before the French Open that if Serena were to win in Paris, it would be the greatest accomplishment of her career. If Serena were to win Wimbledon, that would be pretty impressive, but I wouldn't be surprised because it's grass and this is Serena. No matter what has been going on with her, if she's healthy when she comes to the All England Club, you can't be too surprised to her see holding up the Wimbledon trophy; victory this fortnight would bring her an eighth title and a 24th major overall, equalling Margaret Court's all-time record.

Williams looked good in Paris - she was playing better and better with each match before unfortunately having to withdraw from her fourth-round match with Maria Sharapova because of a pectoral injury. With each round, she was growing in confidence, and looking more and more comfortable on the court. I was impressed by how much she improved during the tournament. If she had stayed healthy in Paris, who knows what would have happened? There will be a similar trajectory at Wimbledon, with Serena improving with every round. The difference is that she will be starting out at a higher level in London, and that's because of the matches in Paris that have given her calm and confidence.

Venus Williams - Wimbledon (Getty)
If Venus Williams become the oldest Wimbledon champion it would just be ridiculous (Getty)

I was pleased to see that the All England Club bumped Serena up into the 32 seeds. She's the No.25 seed, just below Sharapova, which I thought was appropriate. I'm pleased that Serena isn't being penalised for becoming a mother. It's hard enough as it is when you come back from having a baby without having to also start from scratch. Maybe you're not the player you were before, but you're certainly close to that. Presumably, you're not going to come back if you're not ready to play good tennis.

In the future, we are going to see more mothers on the tour - that's because there are more women playing into their thirties, and some of them will want to start a family. So I think this is a good decision by Wimbledon. If I had had any say in it, this is about where I would have placed Serena in the seedings.

Read more: From Halep to Radwanska: Check out the Wimbledon 2018 seeds

I know from my own experience, having played in a Wimbledon final at the age of 37, how it gets harder when you get older. So if Venus Williams can win this tournament at the age of 38, to become the oldest Wimbledon champion in history, that would just be ridiculous. As well as being close to 40, Venus is contending with Sjogren's Syndrome, and that's a lot to overcome. But Venus is playing on grass, a surface that suits her game, and she has also won this tournament a bunch of times: she already has five titles. Venus can also play off recent memory, having reached the final of last summer's Championships.

Read more: Wimbledon 2018 draw: Serena takes on Rus, Halep faces Nara

Petra Kvitova - French Open (Getty)
If Petra Kvitova wins the title it would be a most emotional and poignant victory (Getty)

If Petra Kvitova were to win the Wimbledon title, it would be such an emotional moment, perhaps the most emotional and poignant victory in my lifetime. A year and a half ago, an intruder attacked her with a knife in her home, cutting her left playing hand. The fact Petra's playing tennis, and there's a possibility of her winning the title for a third time, that's just remarkable. She's having the best year of her life, with five titles already this season, so she should feel confident. Her game is perfect for the grass.

When considering who might win this summer's Wimbledon, you first have to look at the former champions in the draw. So that means Serena and Venus Williams, Kvitova, as well as last year's champion Garbiñe Muguruza, and Sharapova. The reason I say that is that being a former champion gives you so much more confidence at Wimbledon than it does at the other majors. That's because of Wimbledon's surface, the overwhelming feel of its history and its atmosphere. Wimbledon truly stands on its own.

Read more: Queens of the Grass: The last 10 Wimbledon champions

Simona Halep - French Open (Getty)
The pressure is off Simona Halep after her French Open success (Getty}

With the hot weather in London, I'm expecting a higher bounce than usual on the lawns. It will play closer to a hard court than grass, and that could help Simona Halep, the World No.1 and the new French Open champion. She should like it if the court is bouncing higher; that would make it slower, which will mean she can run down more balls and defend.

Unlike the other players I've mentioned, Simona hasn't won Wimbledon, but with her success in Paris she has thrown the monkey off her back. Now that the pressure of not having won a major is off, as well as the fact that she won't be one of the big favorites, she should be able to play her best tennis. I just hope she didn't party too much!

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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.




 

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