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TTI Talks: State of the WTA (Wimbledon Edition)

Get ready to take a flying leap into the Championships, as the TTI crew reconvenes for its third straight major to talk all things WTA. The lawns of Wimbledon have been home to many a classic fortnight; how will the 2015 tournament unfold? Read through our picks and check them out in an easy-to-follow grid at the bottom! 

Of the WTA, who is/has:

1. The Biggest Darkhorse?

RENÉ

I’ve seen a lot of people picking Sabine Lisicki as a darkhorse, but someone who had made the quarterfinals or better four times in six years is much more of a Wimbledon stalwart than darkhorse. #lukewarmtake

Both Belinda Bencic and Camila Giorgi could do things on the lawn but the Swiss has looked pretty convincing these past few weeks — three warm-up tournaments, two finals, first title. Bencic making a run into the fourth  or better is definitely a possibility, even if her first round could be tough.

ANDREW

I’m finding it really odd that Sloane Stephens isn’t even seeded at this tournament. She’s looked a lot more secure in recent months and there are signs that the game is picking up again. If she can maintain her consistency and get through her tough opener with Barbora Strycova, she has a good chance to make a deep run here.

She’d have to upset Lucie Safarova first, which I don’t think is an impossible feat for the American by any means, but I could see her making a quarterfinal run to face Maria Sharapova and from there…who knows.

DAVID

A darkhorse, by definition, is one whose success is unexpected. Yet for a time, the tennis world knew exactly what to expect from Tamira Paszek. The Austrian’s back-to-back runs to the Wimbledon quarterfinals epitomized the talented ball-striker’s heart and hustle, her 2012 first round win over Caroline Wozniacki still among the best major matches of the last five years. Recovering from an adductor injury, Paszek has been away from the tour for nearly eight months, but returned just in time to nearly qualify for the French Open.

A solid grass court warm-up saw her go one better in Roehampton, avoiding a mid-match hiccup to return to a Grand Slam main draw for the first time since last year’s Championships. Placed in a loaded section, Paszek is more than capable of hitting through Elina Svitolina and/or Agnieszka Radwanska, and I would give her even odds against Kvitova to start the second week. A big result would be a surprise, but for Paszek, it’d be a return to business as usual.

NICK

Sabine Lisicki is in an extremely soft section of the draw and we know how she gets at Wimbledon. Combine those two factors and it could be a prosperous fortnight for the German. I would not be shocked if Lisicki puts it together and ends up being the semifinalist from this Caroline Wozniacki-Simona Halep quarter.

JANE

Grass court tennis seems like an island — separated, elevated and pristine in its essence from all other court surfaces. Attach the name The Championships. Wimbledon and bold frontier appears. Many women show their best on the green frontier — Tsvetana Pironkova comes to mind — and fall from attention any other time of the year. Others muddle through in anticipation of the summer hard court spin.

Angelique Kerber (No. 10 seed) doesn’t particularly evoke the pure nature of grass-court genius. Her serve is consistent but no boomer, like her fellow German’s serve, Sabine Lisicki. Yet Kerber is a huge threat in other categories, one already having been mentioned: consistency. She’s in the same quarter with Caroline Wozniacki (No. 5) and the 2014 semifinalist, Simona Halep (No. 3). Nothing comes easy at a major, but Kerber does not give up — ever! Her spirit and skills could see her through to the Venus Rosewater Dish by the end of the fortnight.

JEFF

There are so many possible picks for the WTA darkhorse this year at Wimbledon. Venus Williams has yet to play a match on grass but is — unforgettably — a five-time champion here. She’s in Serena’s section of the draw, though, and no one is quite sure what kind of tennis the elder sister is going to produce these days. While Belinda Bencic tallied the highest number of matches on grass this year, she’s in a tough section of the draw and might have overworked these past few weeks.

Instead, I’m going with Bencic’s fellow teen sensation and recent WTA title-winner debutante Ana Konjuh. The 17-year-old Croat won her first title in Nottingham this June dropping only one set en route, and has the big serve and angled groundstrokes to finish points quickly. She’s slated to play a somewhat slumping Alizé Cornet in the first round and is in the same section as a definitely slumping Eugenie Bouchard. Her “slumpy” draw is definitely something she would be keen to capitalize on, especially since her age-restriction limits how many tournaments she can play until she turns 18 at the end of the season.

VIKA

Somebody needs to make the token Tsvetana Pironkova pick, right? Might as well be me.

2. The Early Exit?

RENÉ

There are two or three players that I think could run danger of losing fairly early but based on draw and alleged back issue I think it’ll be third time unlucky at a Grand Slam for Caroline Wozniacki this year. The Dane’s opening round against Zheng Saisai shouldn’t be much of an issue but I could even see someone like Katerina Siniakova upsetting the fifth seed early. At the very least, Camila Giorgi will come out all guns blazing should they meet in the third round.

ANDREW

I don’t see Simona Halep going too far in this draw, and I suspect it will be a third round loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova that will see her on the next train to Heathrow Airport. Halep is going through a hard time with her game lately and the grass season is never really a great time to try and pick up form; there’s not enough time on the surface, it doesn’t give you enough rhythm. She struggled on clay, her favored surface, and I see no reason why she should draw out a good performance on grass this year.

DAVID

It’s never easy following up a major result, something Lucie Safarova will be asked to do during the Wimbledon fortnight. It has to be even more difficult when that next major is already one where big points are on the table, having reached the semifinals in 2014. Worst of all, it could feel almost impossible when that next major opens with a capable surface specialist in Alison Riske. It all may be simply too tough for the gutsy Czech, whose impressive mental improvements will undoubtedly face a stern test from the start.

NICK

It has to Petra Kvitova, right? Her draw looks pretty innocuous, but it’s Petra for crying out loud. To me, being defending champion means nothing for her and she could easily to anyone in any round — particularly considering she was unable to hit a ball in Eastbourne due to an illness.

Her career has been defined by hot and cold stretches — and we’ll just see which Petra shows up to defend her Wimbledon title.

JANE

Everything that goes up must come down, they say. In tennis that could mean incremental movements up or down the ranking ladder or, in the case of Eugenie Bouchard (No. 12), a steep fall from grace.

While she’s now outside the Top 10, Bouchard’s runner-up showing from a year ago is currently the anchor of her ranking. The Canadian has lost 10 of her last 12 matches, and she lost in the first round at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Birmingham. For a match in Eastbourne she swatted away at balls, looking like her 2014-self; she took the ball early, moved it around and volleyed well. Then, boom, she retired next round with a abdominal injury. Her season’s efforts are glaringly exposed in her ranking on the Road To Singapore leaderboard. She’s No. 42. She’ll face a qualifier in the first round — Duan Ying-Ying. She’s tall, strong, and most likely hungry. Bouchard’s confidence, or lack thereof, will be exposed quickly. It’s something that needs time, which she won’t have at Wimbledon.

JEFF

While it’s temping to go with Lucie Safarova who didn’t look quite ready for grass following an early defeat in Eastbourne (and who plays grass court expert Alison Riske in the first round), I’m going with Ana Ivanovic, who has never quite excelled on grass and has had a difficult season so far.

While she should probably make it past her unheralded qualifier opponent Xu Yi-fan in the first round, French Open breakthrough Alison van Uytvanck or Bethanie Mattek-Sands have what it takes to send Ivanovic home early.

VIKA

While Ekaterina Makarova typically does an excellent job of living up to her seeding and beating players she should on paper, I have a feeling that the No. 8 seed is vulnerable here. She lost to Johanna Konta in her only event leading up to Wimbledon, and it was a left achilles tendon injury that forced her and Elena Vesnina out of the doubles semifinal in Eastbourne.

If she is struggling, this might be the year that Magdalena Rybarikova — her potential second round foe — finally puts her grass court game together where it matters the most, and finally rewards my faith in her with a long-overdue Wimbledon run.

3. The Toughest Draw?

RENÉ

Caroline Wozniacki’s draw isn’t the easiest, as said previously, but Ana Ivanovic‘s task isn’t much more enviable. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and possibly Belinda Bencic in the third round isn’t the easiest draw in the world and even though the Serb had her best Grand Slam run in many years at Roland Garros, I’m not convinced it’ll translate into consistency, particularly at Wimbledon.

Exhibit A:

ANDREW

Ana Ivanovic’s draw is awful. First round aside, which she ought to be able to get through, let’s have a look at the rest of her path. In the second round, she would face either Bethanie Mattek-Sands or Roland Garros quarter-finalist Alison Van Uytvanck. Next, she’d likely get Eastbourne champ Belinda Bencic or grass court specialist Tsvetana Pironkova; after that, she could face Carla Suarez Navarro, Kristina Mladenovic or Victoria Azarenka JUST for the right to play probably Serena or Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

Les Miserables is really great live, Ana. Buy tickets now because you’re not winning this tournament.

DAVID

Any road featuring a potential third round with Camila Giorgi is going to be tough, and Caroline Wozniacki drew the short stick for a second major tournament. The Dane battled hard against the big-hitting Italian — then a qualifier — under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium, only to fall in three sets in the very round they’re now seeded to meet. Already struggling physically, Wozniacki’s road hardly softens even should she withstand the Giorgian barrage, as No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza and No. 10 Angelique Kerber both loom as likely fourth round opponents. In weather as in player, Sunshine will be hard to come by at the All-England Club.

NICK

I would not want to be facing Camila Giorgi in the third round of Wimbledon if I was Caroline Wozniacki. The surface suits Giorgi’s bang or bust game and if they face each other in the third round, it means Giorgi already has two matches worth of confidence behind her. She will, of course, not shy away from hitting Wozniacki off the court, which she is more than capable of doing.

JANE

Tough roads can kill spirit or fuel a fire, but a tough draw can muck-up any player’s dreams. This is the case for French Open finalist, Lucie Safarova. Seeded at her highest ever at a slam, No. 6, she’s landed in a section of the draw that will require great things from the get-go.

Lurking are American Alison Riske, heavy-hitter Kaia Kanepi and, possibly, another American in Sloane Stephens. Another real roadblock is No. 11 seed and Safarova’s countrywoman Karolina Pliskova. Big serves, big forehands and flat, fast-traveling balls won’t be in short supply in the French Open finalist’s section.

JEFF

As I mentioned, Ivanovic’s route is not a simple one given her potential second round opponents, and her potential third and fourth round opponents are no easier (‘sup, Tsvetana Pironkova, Belinda Bencic, Victoria Azarenka and Carla Suarez Navarro). Nevertheless, Caroline Wozniacki’s route looks equally as dire, particularly considering she might still be struggling to overcome the back injury that forced her out of Eastbourne last week. She has two of this season’s four grass court champs in her section: Camila Giorgi (who won s’-Hertogenbosch and has beaten her in the third round of a major before) and Angelique Kerber, who just recently won Birmingham in exceptional fashion. Wozniacki has been extremely lackluster at majors this year, courtesy of some difficult draws, and this year’s Wimbledon draw continues to do her no favors.

VIKA

I’ll be very, very surprised if Ana Ivanovic makes the second week. If recent history is anything to go by — she’s reached the second week (R4) just once since 2009 — the Serb has all the odds stacked against her with this draw. If she reaches her projected quarterfinal date with Serena Williams, she’ll most certainly have earned it.

4. The Most Exciting 1R?

RENÉ

Belinda Bencic/Tsvetana Pironkova should be fun, and the same goes for Ana Konjuh/Alizé Cornet, but my pick is Barbora Strycova/Sloane Stephens. The Czech hasn’t been at her very best this year but still more than capable of playing well on grass and Stephens has been looking better again this year after falling off of the radar in 2014. Either way, this should be a fun match with plenty of contrasts — not just in game, but also in terms of on-court attitude.

ANDREW

There are actually a few early round matches that are interesting in the women’s draw. Sloane Stephens vs. Barbora Strycova was my first instinct for this pick but actually Stephens is in much better form than Strycova lately so there’s a good chance that on-paper excitement could be more straightforward than we’d usually anticipate. I’ve got to go for Belinda Bencic vs. Tsvetana Pironkova as the most intriguing start to the tournament.

Drawing Pironkova at Wimbledon is a nightmare for anyone — she’s just so good on grass. I worry that Bencic may be tired from her winning run at Eastbourne, but with enough time to recover this could be a thriller.

DAVID

When it comes to the WTA, the answer is always Yulia Putintseva, and she opens against Kiwi Marina Erakovic. The winner should play Venus Williams in the second round, and though Putintseva perhaps prefers a clay court, the Kazakh can certainly get low to the ball and the surface may force her into the aggressive stance she needs to win. This is the tournament that made her, after all.

Neither are expert closers, so expect to be here a while.

NICK

Heather Watson vs. Caroline Garcia. None of the first round match-ups on the women’s side are particularly enthralling to me, but this one could be entertaining as a Brit takes on one of the fastest rising youngsters out there. You’ll get your money’s worth by attending this one.

JANE

British fans are the most loyal in the world, and they are also patient. They waited over 70 years to cheer Andy Murray’s Wimbledon crown in 2013. Virgina Wade last won for the ladies in 1977. Wildcard Johanna Konta could be country’s next Wimbledon queen-in-waiting should she defeat the most tenacious of players in the first round: Maria Sharapova. Konta showed well at Eastbourne last week — losing only to the eventual champion, Belinda Bencic, in the quarterfinals.

Konta comes in at her peak, which is the best place to be when facing Sharapova. No matter the outcome, which will probably go in Sharapova’s favor, stands will be chuck full of Konta supporters. That’s what will make this first-round match the most exciting.

JEFF

There’s plenty to look forward to in the first round of the women’s singles tournament: last year’s Serena-kryptonite, Cornet, faces Konjuh in the first round which could be exciting, as might the first round encounter between Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone, two players who bring a clay court game to the grass lawns of Wimbledon. For me, though, all eyes are on the Belinda Bencic-Tsvetana Pironkova match. These two players excel on low bouncing grass courtesy of exceptional backhands and extremely flat first serves. Pironkova has had big results here in the past, while Bencic seems primed for a big result this year — hopefully, the combination of expectations of past and future make the present match one to remember.

VIKA

While I love a lot of the match-ups already mentioned, I love the look of Yaroslava Shvedova vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Both women know their way around a grass court, and have fond memories of Wimbledons gone by. The two have never played, and the winner would likely get a look at a second round meeting with Garbiñe Muguruza — in a little section that won’t be kind to tennis balls. #winners

5. The Unheralded Opposition?

RENÉ

I’ll go with Kristina Mladenovic here. The Frenchwoman has started to string more and more wins together in recent weeks and her game has always suited the grass nicely — even if past seasons haven’t yielded quite as much success in singles. She isn’t in the easiest of sections but I don’t need much imagination to see her play spoiler for Carla Suarez Navarro’s — and maybe even Victoria Azarenka’s  — Wimbledon campaigns.

ANDREW

Coming off a successful week as a lucky loser in Eastbourne, where she replaced Petra Kvitova, Daria Gavrilova could be a big threat in her quarter of the draw. With a winnable first round against Irina-Camelia Begu and then either Lesia Tsurenko or Nicole Gibbs in the second round, I see no reason why Gavrilova shouldn’t make it through to the third round here, where she’ll likely face Maria Sharapova.

We’ve seen her playing some really great tennis in 2015 — I have to wonder if Wimbledon is another opportunity for her to further climb the rankings.

DAVID

The extended grass court season didn’t produce many notable stats on the WTA Tour, but one young woman has managed to maintain an impressive record heading into the Championships. Wildcard Anett Kontaveit won her first grass title of 2015 before the French Open was even over, taking out familiar names like Oceane Dodin and Alla Kudryavtseva to capture the $50K Challenger in Eastbourne. In total, Kontaveit has gone 14-2 on the surface, and could be an unexpected challenge for former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the first round. With the Belorussian recovering from a foot injury, the well-oiled Estonian could be due for the big stage breakthrough that has eluded the former junior star.

NICK

Speaking of which — and this is a bit of a wild prediction — but could you imagine the scene for Heather Watson if she stepped out onto Wimbledon’s Centre Court with a chance to end Serena Williams’ calendar slam dream in the third round? If she can get through Garcia in round one, this scenario becomes one that would likely present itself for Watson and one I’m sure the home faithful would love to see.

It would have a David vs. Goliath type feel to it as well, adding to the intrigue.

JANE

If there’s one woman on tour whose spirit is worn on her sleeve or pulled up in her knee socks, it’s Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Having to qualify for the singles main draw, after wracking up two of the last three major doubles Grand Slam titles, seems a bit odd. Mattek-Sands likes fast tennis, and she’ll be tested immediately by Roland Garros surprise quarterfinalist, Alison Van Uytvanck, and then most likely by Ana Ivanovic.

JEFF

This grass season, Kristina Mladenovic has had some big wins over some big names. Bouchard and Halep made the final and semifinals respectively at Wimbledon last year and both fell to the explosive serve and forehand of the Frenchwoman in Birmingham. Though she’s in a tough section of the draw, her form might see her make a big splash at SW19 this year.

VIKA

While she certainly doesn’t have the kindest of draws, I’ll choose last year’s Wimbledon junior champion Jelena Ostapenko. Latvia has been looking for a solid competitor on the women’s side since the retirement of Anastasija Sevastova (who’s back!), and I think the big-hitting teenager could develop into just that.

While she’s still very green (no pun intended) at WTA level, the 18-year-old has more than halved her ranking this season and won her biggest career title at the $50,000 ITF level earlier this year. Carla Suarez Navarro could prove to have too much variety and experience for her in the first round, but whatever the result, Ostapenko will certainly go down swinging.

6. The Semifinalists?

RENÉ

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova in the top half.

Sharapova has landed in a fairly favorable section of the draw — Daria Gavrilova’s ab issue remains a concern and I don’t see many women troubling the Russian on her way to the quarterfinals. Williams has a couple of traps in her way if she wants to make her first Wimbledon semifinal in a few years, but if the American can make it through Paris with a flu, a rested Serena should be able to do things this fortnight.

In the bottom quarter, I’ll go with Petra Kvitova, who I feel has been handed a good draw to give her title defense a proper go. It doesn’t look like there are aren’t too many big matches scheduled her way so maybe she can fly a little under the radar in similar fashion to last year, despite being the No. 2 seed and defending champion.

The last semifinalist is the trickiest one, since the Caroline Wozniacki/Simona Halep section feels like the most open of the draw. My eyes were drawn to Angelique Kerber fairly instantly, possibly emerging from a rematch of the 2012 quarterfinal against Sabine Lisicki.

ANDREW

Serena Williams has a cakewalk draw right through the quarterfinals — and unless her quarterfinal opponent isn’t Victoria Azarenka — Serena Williams has a cakewalk draw right through the semifinals. I’m certain she’ll make it. I feel equally confident about Maria Sharapova’s chances — the biggest stumbling block there would be a quarterfinal against Lucie Safarova if the Czech plays with the same confidence she had at Roland Garros.

The bottom half is more interesting. The Halep/Wozniacki quarter is wide open and I’d be unsurprised by a Kuznetsova/Lisicki vs. Angelique Kerber quarterfinal with Kerber coming through the winner. She’s having a great year, and I think her confidence will carry the German through to the semifinals. Petra Kvitova has a very decent quarter, but I’m mildly tempted to pick Ekaterina Makarova to sneak through this section of the draw…

Yep, I’m going for Kerber vs. Makarova.

DAVID

We’ve seen Serena Williams sick, flustered, and all but out of each of the last two major tournaments. Yet she’s won both, playing with a mix of imperiousness and grounded determination. The top seeded has cheated certain doom enough times in 2015 that it feels like a letdown is coming, and with a tricky batch of unseeded and looming opponents, the American’s first week may be far less straightforward than anyone might think. Qualifier Petra Cetkovska is the world’s most casual giantslayer, and plays an off-beat game that could unsettle Williams early. Dominika Cibulkova was hitting the ball well in Eastbourne, and has a win over a reigning World No. 1 at the All-England Club.

With carnage in the forecast, I’m predicting Kristina Mladenovic to come good at a major tournament and reach her first Grand Slam second week in style. Across the net, expect a rematch of a 2013 first round, as Maria Sharapova should sail through a section of players unlikely to trouble her on grass.

In the bottom half, Angelique Kerber is one of four former Wimbledon semifinalists in her quarter, but the German is definitely in the best form with momentum dating back to her surprising win in Charleston. Speaking of Charleston, Madison Keys didn’t have the best start to the grass court season, but has a big game and a draw that will allow her to build confidence as the fortnight progresses. It may not be the semifinals fans want, but the semifinals featuring sarcastic racquet claps (Kerber) and big forehands (everyone else).

NICK

Serena Williams vs. Lucie Safarova. Safarova was incredible at the French Open. I think her game is perfect for the grass and as a semifinalist from last year, she’ll feel very confident entering this tournament. There are some big names in her section that I will really put her to the test (specifically Sharapova), but the Czech is usually up for a challenge. I’m not even going to spend any time justifying why I have Serena here. Her record speaks for itself.

Camila Giorgi vs. Alizé Cornet. I’ve made some absolutely atrocious predictions in the past. You may look back on this two weeks from now and laugh or you may think I’m a lunatic who just got lucky. Cornet and Giorgi have navigable draws and assuming Kvitova isn’t around by the time they reach the quarters, I see this as a somewhat realistic outcome. Either way, it’s my pick and I’m sticking with it.

JANE

Two names stand out on the top half of the draw: Serena Williams (No. 1) and Maria Sharapova (No. 4). A run to the semifinal by both women is feasible and most probable. They are the toughest competitors and primed to excel. Williams has won The Australian Open and Roland Garros this year. She has not done well at SW19, losing in the 4th and third rounds respectively over the last two years. She’ll want to do better, of course. Sharapova crashed out of Roland Garros in the fourth round due to a viral illness. She has not played since, taking more time than was expected to cure the malady. She, too, will want to make up for lost time and competitive satisfaction.

The bottom half is more of a conundrum. Defending champion Petra Kvitova (No. 2) has the best game for grass when on. Yet, she pulled out of Eastbourne due to an illness. If healthy, her threat ratio ranks high. The women who could undermine her run to the semifinal are Agnieszka Radwanska, Madison Keys or even Elina Svitolina. It’s always a guess with Kvitova, but her consistency on grass and at Wimbledon make her the favorite. Simona Halep (No. 3) will be defending semifinal points over the fortnight. Halep’s route to the semifinal is strewn with pitfalls: veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sabine Lisicki, Angelique Kerber, and Caroline Wozniacki — but I expect the Romanian to get by them all.

JEFF

Serena Williams, because Serena Williams. The other section of the draw’s top half is a bit tougher to call. Maria Sharapova has been mediocre on grass these past few years, and she’s due for another good run — but someone else who’s due for her *first* good run is Karolina Pliskova, who proved in Birmingham that she has the game for grass. On the draw’s bottom half, I feel like Angelique Kerber is going to capitalize on her recent grass court form and dodge the big hitters in her section, whereas Simona Halep might not. Petra Kvitova may have been cursed with illness leading up to Wimbledon, but her draw is much more of a blessing. Unless her form goes terribly awry, she should be able to navigate her way into the semis.

VIKA

I can’t say I see anyone on paper stopping Serena Williams before the semifinals, so my surprise pick in the top half comes from the second quarter. Of the four Grand Slams, Wimbledon is where Karolina Pliskova should have the most success, and I’m picking the Czech to make her first Grand Slam semifinal at the All-England Club. She hasn’t had a run to the second week of a Grand Slam yet in her career, but she has the prototypical game to succeed on grass courts. I predict she’ll be the last of her countrywomen standing in Safarova’s section, and proceed to hold her nerve — and serve — to upset Sharapova in the quarterfinals.

We’ll get another all-lefty semifinal at Wimbledon featuring Petra Kvitova on the bottom half of the draw this year, but in 2015 her foe will be none other than Angelique Kerber. The German’s revival after a tough start has been one of the stories of 2015 for me thus far, and I love her chances to come out of the third quarter.

7. The Champion?

RENÉ

Twice I’ve picked the field in the past two slams, and both times Serena Williams has proven me wrong. This time I’ll play it safe and say the American will emerge triumphant and travel back to the United States having completed three of the four steps on the way to the calendar-year Grand Slam.

ANDREW

With this draw, I have to go for Serena Williams. I have no idea who she’ll face in the final; if it’s an on form Kvitova then I think we could be in for a real thriller, but my sense is that it’s more likely to be a first time Wimbledon finalist in Kerber or Makarova and nerves will play a big part. This is a dream draw for the World No. 1 on her path to taking a calendar slam, and I can’t see her letting this one go.

DAVID

There was a time when people were asking if Angelique Kerber could win a Grand Slam title. That chatter cooled for a few years, with the consensus that the German was ultimately too passive to step up and win the big titles. Barring a disappointing French Open exit — falling to the always-dangerous Muguruza — Kerber has been stepping into the court and back into the conversation this spring, playing aggressive tennis and competing with the kind of unrelenting grit that saw her reach those two initial Grand Slam semifinals. On a surface that masks her weaknesses and highlights her strengths, Kerber could win what would ultimately be one weird Wimbledon.

NICK

I believe this will be the year Serena Williams wins all four grand slams. She’s only lost one match the entire year and even though she says winning all four isn’t a big deal, it really is. With Victoria Azarenka, her sister Venus and Maria Sharapova in her half of the draw, there will be major challenges along the way, but look for Serena to capture her third Grand Slam of the year and set the stage for a climactic finish at the U.S. Open.

JANE

There’s only one queen of the court, and that’s Serena Williams. State every stat, which all go in her favor, and you would miss the obvious yet hidden element … Serena. She blasted her way to honor at Roland Garros with a serious — or what seemed like — viral infection. Be ready for her to hoist her sixth Venus Rosewater Dish, celebrate her 21st Grand Slam in singles and second ‘Serena Slam,’ and land on the precipice of a calendar Grand Slam — a first since Steffi Graf in 1988.

JEFF

It’s so, so, so hard to not pick Serena Williams, so I will. She’s lost one match this year and has won the last three Grand Slams. She’s been outspoken in declaring her intention to break records and another Wimbledon would shatter a few, but might that pressure be more than she can handle this fortnight? History says not, and Serena is certainly a woman of history.

VIKA

I, like René, picked the field over Serena Williams for the first two majors of the year. At Wimbledon, however, I don’t see any of the potential pitfalls that I think will derail her quest for the career Grand Slam. Her career has already been historic, and I think we’ve reached the point in 2015 where few — if any — can challenge her date with destiny.

TTI’s Picks:

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 1.54.07 AM

Who would you have chosen? Sound off in the comments!

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About Victoria Chiesa (114 Articles)
One time, Eva Asderaki told me I was lovely. It was awesome. @vrcsports

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