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KEY DATES FOR WIMBLEDON 2017

Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July

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News
Friday, 19 June 2015 11:40 AM BST
McEnroe: Serena is the greatest
ESPN tennis analysts John McEnroe and Chrissie Evert preview Serena Williams’ Wimbledon chances READ MORE

Serena Williams and her tennis racket have been writing headlines since she took her first swings on the professional tour as a 15-year-old in 1997. Wherever the 20-time Grand Slam champion goes, noise follows, and it’s only getting louder.

But for all her success, there is one thing Serena has yet to achieve: the Grand Slam – all four major titles in one year, tennis’ equivalent of the Holy Grail.

To put the difficulty of the task into context, only three people have achieved the feat in the Open Era: Rod Laver (1969), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988). Coming into 2015 no active player – men or women - had ever won the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same year. The last person to complete 50 per cent of the job was Jennifer Capriati in 2001, but Venus Williams had her say at Wimbledon that year.

With two hurdles left to climb - Wimbledon and US Open - Serena will negotiate the first at the All England Club, where she will arrive with her sights firmly set on a sixth Wimbledon title. Victory and she will hold all four Grand Slams for the second time in her career.

Can she produce on the lawns this summer? ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe think so.

“When she is at her best she is better than anybody else,” said Evert on a conference call with members of the media. “She’s got a great shot. To me her game is better suited to the grass courts than it is to the clay. She struggled through the French, remarkably winning it. But her game, just because of her serve, she's going to get free aces. Her power, her mobility on the court. It should be one of the easier Grand Slams for her. We've all read that quote: These matches are all on her racket. It's kind of true at this point.”

“Obviously Serena's playing better than anyone,” added McEnroe. “There's no question about it. She's chasing history in terms of her Grand Slam titles. Even though she's still playing arguably her best tennis, you have to wonder at a certain point how long that can keep up. I'm sure she is. She's going for a Grand Slam, which is obviously so rare. That should be significant motivation.”

What will be Serena’s biggest challenge at Wimbledon?

“The only part that would worry me,” said McEnroe, “is she had lapses [at the French] where she got through just on her ability and will. But on grass, against a couple of bigger hitters like a [Petra] Kvitova, if you get yourself in a hole, some of the women could get away and win more points on the serve than they would on a clay court or a hard court.”

Evert added: “On the clay, you have the luxury of playing your way into a match a little bit more. Even when she was a set and a break down, she could still play her way back into it [in Paris]. As John says, she gets a [Sabine] Lisicki, who has a big serve, Kvitova, [Victoria] Azarenka, somebody who is hot that day, grass is not the same surface as clay. You can't play your way into it as easily.”

McEnroe and Evert also marveled at Serena’s ability to dig her way out of trouble. The American has come from a set down to win a record 33 Grand Slam matches during her career. So, how does she do it?

“I wish I knew the answer because I would have done that more,” said McEnroe. “To me, she's the greatest. I've never seen someone come back from behind as much as she has. I can't believe she's got this will and belief at like really critical times. To maintain that belief is like a gift. 

“Serena seems to have, late in her career, gotten to be mentally tougher than she's ever been. She's been awfully tough at times. That's very rare that you can be that consistently solid when it's crunch time.”

The Championships 2015 get under way on June 29.