• Thursday, July 25, 2024

Sport

Wimbledon women’s singles 2024: Three main talking points

Four Grand Slam champions—three of them mothers—have received wild cards this year: Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Emma Raducanu, and Caroline Wozniacki.

Iga Swiatek, the world number one, is unbeaten in 19 matches ahead of Wimbledon, starting July 1. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

IGA SWIATEK aims to make a significant impact at Wimbledon, her weakest surface, following a strong clay court season that highlighted her dominance in women’s tennis.

The Polish world number one will face strong competition on the grass courts of the All England Club from players like Coco Gauff, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elena Rybakina.

Here are the three talking points for Wimbledon 2024 women’s singles:

Can Swiatek conquer grass?

Iga Swiatek, the world number one, recently won her third consecutive French Open title and her fourth in five years at Roland Garros. The 23-year-old, who also claimed clay-court titles in Madrid and Rome, is unbeaten in 19 matches ahead of Wimbledon, starting July 1.

Swiatek has chosen not to play a warm-up tournament on grass, withdrawing from the Berlin event to rest. Her best Wimbledon performance was a quarter-final appearance last year, where she lost to Elina Svitolina. Swiatek does not have the same grass-court experience as some of her rivals but is expected to perform well, having won the junior title at Wimbledon in 2018.

After her recent French Open win, she acknowledged the challenge of switching from clay to grass. “The balls are different,” she said. “Overall tennis is different on grass. I’ll just see and I’ll work hard to play better there.”

Despite the challenges, it seems likely that Swiatek will eventually excel on grass.

Sabalenka threat

Aryna Sabalenka, who finished second to Swiatek in the recent Madrid and Rome tournaments on clay, is a strong contender on the faster Wimbledon courts. The Belarusian won the Australian Open in January, demonstrating powerful tennis without dropping a set.

Ranked third in the world, Sabalenka missed Wimbledon in 2022 due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes. She reached the semi-finals in 2021 and last year. However, her fitness is in question after retiring from her quarter-final match at the recent Berlin grass-court tournament due to shoulder and neck issues.

Other contenders include 2022 champion Elena Rybakina and last year’s US Open winner Coco Gauff, who has never advanced beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon. Two-time Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur, ranked 10th, will aim for a better result after reaching the final in the past two years. Reigning champion Marketa Vondrousova will be defending her title after becoming the first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon last year.

Wild card threats

Four Grand Slam champions—three of them mothers—have received wild cards for Wimbledon this year: Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Emma Raducanu, and Caroline Wozniacki.

Osaka and Kerber returned from maternity leave at the start of the season. Osaka, a four-time major winner, will make her first appearance at the All England Club since 2019 and recently reached her first grass-court quarterfinal since 2018. She was the only player to take a set from Swiatek at the French Open. However, Osaka has struggled since returning to tennis and is currently ranked 111th in the world.

Kerber, who has a strong Wimbledon history with a runner-up finish in 2016 and a title in 2018, is now ranked 221st. Britain’s Raducanu made a significant impact at her first Wimbledon in 2021, reaching the fourth round before winning the US Open as a qualifier. However, she was knocked out in the second round the following year and missed last year’s tournament after surgery.

Former world number one Wozniacki, who has two children, has never advanced beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon.

(AFP)

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