Six women to watch at Wimbledon
Originally published on 01/07/17 00:00
Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
Best Wimbledon Result: 2nd round 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
First Round Opponent: Evgeniya Rodina
The world No.3 has a surprisingly poor record at Wimbledon for a player of her calibre. She has been halted at the second round stage on four previous occasions however she appears ready to go further this time.
Pliskova has a big game and she will take comfort from her performance on her weakest surface in Paris. The 25-year-old was within a set of reaching the French Open final and she will get more reward for her punishing groundstrokes on the grass in South-West London.
The Czech completed her Wimbledon preparations by winning the Aegon International in Eastbourne.
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
Best Wimbledon result: 2nd Round 2015
First Round Opponent: Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Ostapenko came to prominence at Roland Garros earlier this month as she blasted her way to the title. The Latvian painted the lines with her crunching groundstrokes for the duration of her stay in the French capital and she was untouchable in the latter stages of the final.
The former Wimbledon Junior Girls’ champion has a gamestyle that translates well to grass and it will be fascinating to see how she copes with the increased media attention.
First time major winners have a tendency to struggle in their next Grand Slam appearance, but Ostapenko can’t be counted out.
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
Best Wimbledon Result: 3rd round 2015
First Round Opponent: Pauline Parmentier
The Frenchwoman has made considerable progress this year and her last eight showing in Paris last month, despite suffering a back problem, was impressive.
Mladenovic has never surpassed the third round at Wimbledon but she did win the mixed doubles title alongside Daniel Nestor four years ago. The confident 24-year-old is a good all-rounder and she should be targeting the second week.
Caroline Garcia (FRA)
Best Wimbledon result: 3rd round 2014
First Round Opponent: Jana Cepelova
The French No.2 reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros for the first time this year and she is playing with confidence. Her semi-final appearance at the Mallorca Open last week would suggest that she has made a successful transition from clay to grass.
The 23-year-old has never been beyond the third round of Wimbledon and she should have performed better on a surface that fits well with her game. She is a risk-taker who likes to play on the front foot and if she can control her nerves, she can flourish in SW19.
Johanna Konta (GBR)
Best Wimbledon result: 2nd round 2016
First Round Opponent: Su-Wei Hseih
Now a bonafide top 10 player, Konta is expected to deliver at her home Grand Slam. Wimbledon has not been a happy hunting ground for the 26-year-old in the past, though, and she has only made it beyond the first round once.
The British No.1 remains most comfortable with a hard-court underfoot however she reached her first final on grass at the Nottingham Open earlier this month. Her defeat to Donna Vekic in the East Midlands was disappointing and that was quickly followed by an early exit in Birmingham.
Konta was enjoying an excellent run at her hometown event in Eastbourne before injury forced her to withdraw. The 26-year-old took a nasty tumble in her quarter-final victory over Angelique Kerber and hurt her back.
If Konta is fit, can win a few matches and settle into the tournament, anything is possible.
Venus Williams (USA)
Best Wimbledon result: Champion 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 & 2008
First Round Opponent: Elise Mertens
The five-time Wimbledon champion is making her 20th jaunt across the Atlantic and on this occasion she won’t be accompanied by her sister Serena.
Venus might be in the twilight of her hugely successful career but she remains a legitimate contender for the biggest prizes. The 37-year-old is a top class operator on grass and she will hope to keep the Rosewater Dish in her family for another year.