The All England Lawn Tennis & Crocquet Club (AELTC) has announced the first batch of Wild cards issued for the main draw of Wimbledon 2016.
Vavel takes a look at the players who receive the main draw berth without having to go through qualifying.
Liam Broady British number six and ranked at 232 in the world. The Stockport born player has a round two place to defend, after coming back from two sets down against Marinko Matosevic at last years event. Broady spends most of his playing career on the challenger circuit, but is making steady progress in the rankings. The Brit will be looking forward to this years grass court slam, and will be hoping for a repeat or better of last years second round.
The German is ranked 86 in the world currently according to and this will have been helped by his recent challenger win in Manchester. Brown, who has been cleared by the ITF to play Davis Cup for Germany represented Jamicia until 2010, but then switched nationalities back to his birth nation of Germany. Having gone through the same appeals process that the LTA have undergone with Aljaz Bedene, the German managed to win his case to represent Germany. Brown made headlines at Wimbledon last year after knocking out Rafael Nadal in the second round, undoubtedly the biggest win of his career.
The Czech player is currently ranked at 118, but had a career high ranking of eight. Stepanek is never to be discounted, and is always regarded as a potential banana skin; as Andy Murray almost found out at the French Open. One of the oldest active players at the age of 37 the Czech had a run on the grass in Stuttgart progressing through qualifying to the main draw. In Stuttgart the Czech defeated the second seed Marin Cilic.
James Ward is British Number five and currently ranked 176. The Brit had an amazing start to the 2015 year, as he defeated John Isner at the first round tie of the Davis Cup in an epic five set match, taking the final set 15-13 in just under five hours for the entire match. Giving GB a vital point and a two-nil lead overnight.
Ward was handed a wild card into last years championship no doubt due in part to that epic battle, and the fact that the week after Wimbledon finsihed the Davis Cup quarter finals were taking place, and GB were on the grass at Queens against France.
In the first round the heroic Brit was due to play David Ferrer of Spain. When the Spaniard withdrew after the draw was made, Ward first round match was instead against Luca Vani who stepped in as a Lucky Loser. The Brit fought through that round and then played Jiri Vesely.
Another tough match, but the Brit came through in four sets making the third round of a grand slam for the very first time. He was eventually defeated in the third round by Vasek Pospisil. The Canadian was made to work for the win and it took a five set thriller on a show court. This broke Ward into the top 100 for the first time, he ended the week at 89.
Firstly, no relation to James. This Ward is ranked 244 in the world and mainly plays on the futures circuit. The futures is a lower tier of professional tennis and tends to have very small audiences, played in very similar destinations week in and week out. The Brit has certainly earned his wildcard, already with two futures titles to his name. Ward won four titles the year before, the Brit had to try and qualify last year, after being handed a qualifying wild card. He lost in the first round. Hopes will be high that he can bring some of this futures victories to the fore and bring a home win.
There are three more ATP wild cards to be awarded by AELTC.
Daniela Hantucova is currently ranked at 193 in the world, but has been as high as number five. In the Championship last year the Slovak reached the second round. However, the best ever showing made by Hantuchova in a grand slam was as Semi Finalist at the Australian Open in 2008, with the best ever placing at Wimbledon being a quarter final in 2002. The Slovak has seven WTA titles to her name in singles.
Marina Melnikova is currently ranked at 195. The Russian will be thanking the AELTC for her main draw wildcard, as previously she has had to play the qualifying event, never making the main draw in SW19. Melnikova recently won the ITF event in Surbiton on the grass to take her third ITF singles title. The Russian has never played the main draw at any slam before, this will be a big test for the Russian.
Tara Moore is British number four and ranked currently 228. After an amazing week in Nottingham where the Brit reached the quarter finals it was all but guaranteed Moore would receive a wildcard into the main draw. Nottingham saw the Brit defeat much higher ranked players than herself, before finally falling in the quarter finals.
Laura Robson will be the most well known of the wildcards. The former British number one is currently ranked 294, with a career high of 27. Robson was out of the tour for over 18 months trying to recover from wrist surgery. As the Brit has used up all her Grand Slam protected ranking options, she was reliant on a wild card to either the main draw or qualifying. Slogging away on the lower tiers, Robson has attempted to qualify for some of the main WTA events, and has achieved some good wins along the way.
Robson will look forward to her return the the Wimbledon grounds, and will hope to perform well in front of a home crowd.
Katie Swan will make her senior Wimbledon main draw debut this year. The 17 year old is based in Kansas due to her fathers job within the oil industry. the Brit was called up for Fed Cup duties before she had turned 17, making her the youngest Brit to play for her country. She defeated her opponent in straight sets, and Britian went on to win the tie. Last year Swan made the final of the junior Australian Open, and went into the qualifying rounds for Wimbledon, the Brit lost in the second round.
This will be her first ever appearance at any grand slam at senior level, Swan is ranked 444 in the world.
There are three more wild cards still to be announced on the ladies side.