7-time champion Serena Williams will return to the 2018 Wimbledon Championships as a mother for the first time, and the lady luck has shone on her after receiving a favourable draw to mount yet another deep run at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The current world number 181 will open her campaign against Arantxa Rus, who has achieved some decent results on grass in the past.
Williams, returning after giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, entered the draw with the help of a Protected Ranking and is seeded 25th after a committee decision by Wimbledon, making the draw more balanced. Elsewise, we could have had a possible showdown between Williams and world number one Simona Halep in the opening round. She won the title on her last appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Rus’ struggles too overwhelming?
Rus has been an effective player on grass throughout her career. She is dangerous on the surface and was able to pull off a stunning upset over then-world number five Samantha Stosur in the second round of Wimbledon six years back. Hailing from the Netherlands, she almost certainly receives a wildcard into her home tournament at ‘s-Hertogenbosch every year and made the last eight in 2017, beating Timea Babos along the way. However, her recent form on grass is worrying as she went on a 2-3 win-loss record.
Rus, ranked inside the top-150 throughout the year, has gone for a more realistic approach towards her scheduling as she has participated in 7 ITF tournaments as compared to just four main draw appearances on tour, alongside six failed qualifying attempts. In 2018, the Dutch only managed to earn one top-100 victory throughout the opening six months, over Zhang Shuai at the Istanbul Cup. Hence, it will be a tough ask for Rus to complete the upset on Monday.
Williams: A contender for the title once more?
Williams enters Wimbledon looking like a favourite to claim her eighth Venus Rosewater Dish, having been handed a favourable draw with fifth seed Elina Svitolina possibly awaiting in the third round. The American made her comeback in March, and although she is still looking for her first quarterfinal since then, her impressive run amidst a tough draw at Roland Garros proved to be a good omen until she was affected by a pectoral injury which forced her to withdraw from her scheduled fourth-round clash against rival Maria Sharapova.
The 23-time Major champion is currently on a 14-match winning streak here at Wimbledon. She had also won 32 of her last 34 matches on grass and owns a formidable 86-10 record at this event. Going 7-0 over the next fortnight will also see Williams matching Margaret Court’s record of the most Grand Slams won. Williams seems to be in a good shape and a second-week appearance should be anticipated from the seven-time former champion.
Williams expected to stroll towards victory
Rus employs a powerful service in her game and that can be extremely effective on the fast-paced grass courts. In this battle between two powerful players, we could undoubtedly witness strings of service holds though Williams will be looking to make the breakthrough by emphasizing her aggression on second serve returns.
Williams is the overwhelming favourite coming into this encounter and should be able to make it through without breaking a sweat. However, if Rus were to play the match of her life, a fantastic thriller could be coming our way. Nonetheless, the American is returning onto her favourite lawn courts and will be looking to kick off her campaign with a comfortable win.