The Championships 2013 are about to begin and the dual traditions of honour and excellence grow ever stronger at the All England Club. As the best tennis talent in the world gets ready to face off during the Fortnight, here are some of the most compelling stories to follow from a few of the top contenders for the titles:
1. Will Roger Federer collect Wimbledon title number eight? The 17-time major champion holds the most titles of any man overall, and he aims to underline his status as the king of grass with another championship at the All England Club. Currently tied with Pete Sampras for most men's singles titles in the Open Era, the No. 3 seed will have a tough path to the crown and could potentially face Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. The defending champion, a finalist at the Olympics and a recent winner in Halle, it would be a surprise if the Swiss great failed to reach the final in 2013.
2. How will Serena Williams fare after the Roland Garros run? The world No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon champion recently collected her second title in Paris only weeks ago. It might be a tough ask for any other player to continue that fine form to a different surface, especially without competing in a tournament since. Then again, this is Serena Williams, a 16-time major champion and a heavy favourite at any tournament in which she competes. At Wimbledon, where she is a five-time champion, the train of thought is no different.
3. Is it finally Andy Murray’s time at Wimbledon? Federer aside, there’s one man the public may want to win the 2013 Wimbledon crown more that any other. Should Murray break through at the All England Club this year and do one better than his runner-up performance against Federer last year, he’ll become the first man from Great Britain to win a Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry in 1936.
4. Can Victoria Azarenka break the semi-final streak? The No. 2 seed and the Australian Open champion has fallen at the semi-final stage the All England Club for the past two years and was defeated by the woman who would go on to become the champion (Petra Kvitova and Serena, respectively). A title in Melbourne and a semi-final run at Roland Garros – her best run there to date – signify that she’s as ready as ever to make a run at The Championships.
5. Will Rafael Nadal avenge last year’s early loss? The former Wimbledon winner and recent victor at Roland Garros fell to Lukas Rosol last year in a second-round, five-set stunner. This year, he’s healthy – the knee’s better – and he’s back in winning form. He advanced to nine consecutive finals during the clay-court season and won seven. As the No. 5 seed, he’ll potentially face Federer in the quarter-finals, Murray in the semi-finals and Novak Djokovic in the final for the Wimbledon crown. But then again, if anyone can do the unthinkable and triumph against the odds, it’s probably a Spaniard called Rafa.
6. Can Maria Sharapova rekindle the Wimbledon-winning inspiration? It has been nine years since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova claimed the title by stunning Serena in the 2004 final. When she burst onto the tennis scene at the All England Club with the surprising straight-sets victory, a star was born. Now, with four major titles to her name, including Roland Garros last year, the Russian appears overdue to hoist the Venus Rosewater Dish once again at the All England Club.
7. Will the Bryan brothers complete a Grand Slam in doubles? The American duo of Bob and Mike Bryan are two-time Wimbledon winners and know what it’s like to hoist the trophy at the All England Club. But this year, there’s added pressure to win. If they do, they’ll have succeeded in achieving one of the most difficult feats in sport: winning four consecutive major titles. After a semi-final exit at The Championships last year, Bob and Mike seemingly can’t be stopped. They won gold at the London Olympics, followed by securing a victory at the US Open. The first half of 2013, meanwhile, couldn’t have been sweeter with titles at the Australian Open and Roland Garros. Overall, they’ve won 90 doubles titles. But the sweetest might just be number 91 at the All England Club this year.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
20:19It was the wackiest of Wimbledons with the most unlikely of headline-makers: Sergiy Stakhovsky, Steve Darcis, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Kimiko-Date Krumm, Jerzy Janowicz, Sabine Lisicki, Marion Bartoli...View all