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Grass-court specialists loom in Serena's half of draw

Serena Williams reacts between points during the Ladies' final against Agnieszka Radwanska.
by Benjamin Snyder
Friday 21 June 2013

Defending champion Serena Williams will begin her bid for a sixth Wimbledon title against Luxembourg's Mandy Minella, with former semi-finalists Sabine Lisicki and Zheng Zie also looming in the No.1 seed's section of the draw.

As is traditional, Serena Williams will open the defence of her title in the first match on Centre Court on Tuesday. Her opponent has played in the singles main draw only once before, losing in the first round last year.

Agnieszka Radwanska, the No. 4 seed, may also stand in Serena's way, assuming the Pole finds the inspired form that earned her a spot in her maiden major final at the All England Club a year ago. The Pole lost a gripping match 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, allowing Serena to join her older sister Venus in lifting the famous Venus Rosewater Dish on five occasions.

In addition to the grass-court talent potentially set to face Serena in her section are former Grand Slam winners Li Na, the No. 6 seed and Roland Garros winner in 2011, and Samantha Stosur, the No. 14 seed, who defeated Serena at the US Open in 2011.

Serena cannot face third seed and 2004 champion Maria Sharapova until the final. The Russian landed in the bottom half of the draw, which is headed by No. 2 seed and this year’s Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.

Sharapova, who lost out to Serena in the French Open final only weeks ago, burst onto the tennis scene with her break-out performance as a teenager at SW19 nine years ago. Then, she stunned Serena 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

With the conspicuous absence of Venus Williams, who pulled out of the tournament with a back injury, Sharapova directly trails Serena in the number of total singles titles at major events with four, including one at each for a career slam.

Azarenka potentially faces a couple of former world No. 1 Serbs in Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic should she make another run at the All England Club. Last year, the Belarusian advanced to the semi-finals at The Championships before being halted by Serena in straight sets.

Vying for another Wimbledon title is 2011 winner Petra Kvitova, who has been struggling with her form of late, but has the power and shot-making ability to take the title. She is a potential quarter-final opponent for Azarenka. 

Notable opponents in the bottom section of the draw who will strive to prevent a Williams versus Sharapova rematch include Sara Errani, the Russian’s Roland Garros opposition in last year’s final, Australian Open semi-finalist and budding American talent Sloane Stephens, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and 2007 Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli.

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