Just typing that name tells me that my favourite time of the tennis season is here.
I have nothing against clay court and hard court tennis, but there is just something so tranquil and spectacular about seeing players dressed all in white, playing against the beautiful backdrop of green grass. This year, 2011 the grass will be especially green as England has been an enjoying a really spectacular summer with lots of rain, interspersed with lots of sunshine. As is the norm during this time of the year, we have seen lots of rain delays and/or matches having to be rescheduled to the next day, but for tennis fans like myself, we don’t care. We know that while this season is short, the gold at the end of the rainbow is the crown jewel in our tennis world. To be crowned a Wimbledon champion.
I was talking to one of my tennis buddies and we started to talk about who we thought had a chance at winning this tournament on the women’s side. There were a lot of potentials thrown out there. We had, of course, Sharapova who won Wimbledon in 2004. We had Petra Kvitova, who made the semis last year. We had Azarenka, perennial quarter-finalist at the Majors, who lost last year in the third round to Petra Kvitova. We also spoke about Vera Zvonreva, even though we were not optimistic that she would repeat her efforts from last year. Too many changes in her camp since that Wimbledon run. How about Clijsters, she of the 4 Major titles, but who seems to want to spend more time with her husband and child, rather than playing the regular Tour? I seem to recall that when Clijsters made her exit from the sport in 2007, she spent quite a bit of time telling everyone who would listen how she was more prepared to just sit at home with her dogs and count her beads, rather than being on Tour. Seems to me like since coming back, Ms. Clijsters has now reverted to type.
My tennis buddy and I also spoke about Marion Bartoli. Bartoli was a finalist in 2007 where she lots to Venus Williams, she of the 5 Wimbledon crowns and without a doubt the best grass court player of her generation. However, there is the matter of that other Williams sister, Serena Williams.
Now here is where our conversation took a different turn. You will note that nowhere in this conversation did we speak about the current World’s No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki has not done well in the Majors since making the final of the USO in 2009. However, it was not about Wozniacki’s lack of performance at a Major that brought about a discussion. It was the seedings.
My friend took the opportunity to visit the Wimbledon website to get an idea of what the criteria was for seedings. Turns out that the way the seeding is done by the Wimbledon organizers for the men is totally different than how it is done for the women.
For the men the Committee that oversees the Championships uses 75% of their best results in the past year and 100% of their results from the year before to determine their seedings. For the women, the same criteria is in place, except that the Committee has the right to use its discretion in order to establish a fair and balanced draw.
The seedings for the men will, in my view, be fairly straightforward. It is the women however who will generate the most headlines when the seedings are announced.
If the Wimbledon Committee uses the seeding criteria, we could see, Serena Williams, who has not played a tournament since winning Wimbledon in 2010 be the No. 1 seed. How, you ask could that possibly happen, having regard to the fact that Serena has not played a tournament since Wimbledon 2010 (she is scheduled to play Pironkova in Eastbourne on Monday 13 June)? Well that would happen because of Serena’s performance at Wimbledon over the past 2 years.
Many of you will recall that Serena made the final in 2008 where she lost to her sister, Venus Williams. In 2009, she returned and won the title, beating her sister in the final. In 2010, she returned to the final again, beating Vera Zvonreva for the title. As can be seen, since 2008, there has not been a player more dominant on this surface than Serena Williams. If the organizers of the Championships decide to, they could, in all fairness seed Serena Williams, holder of 13 Grand Slam titles at No. 1. This should make all the other women on Tour breathe a sigh of relief, because let’s face it, no one wants to meet her in the first round of a major, if she is seeded at her current ranking, which is currently in the low 20s.
One of the things that will make these Championships so enjoyable once again on the women’s side will be the same thing that happened at Roland Garros a few weeks ago. The unpredictability of who will come out of the women’s side holding up the Venus Rosewater Dish.
Just as we had no idea who would be holding up the Suzanne Lenglen trophy on the women’s side at Roland Garros, so we do not know and that is what makes the anticipation so much better.
The Wimbledon Seed Report will be on 15 June. Qualifying rounds start on Monday 13 June.
Get ready for the Grass Court Ride of your Life