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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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Monday, 3 July 2017 22:41 PM BST
The Preview: Day 2
In the absence of Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber takes centre stage and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are also in action READ MORE

Wimbledon tradition dictates that we should be preparing for the grand entrance of the ladies’ champion on Centre Court on Tuesday.

Yet, with Serena Williams otherwise happily engaged as Vanity Fair’s cover girl asking us, "What do you guys think, boy or girl?", it is down to Angelique Kerber, last year’s beaten finalist, to do the honours.

When the German opens up against Irina Falconi, who will be out to pull off the sort of spectacular upset worthy of a US qualifier on the fourth of July, maybe it will be Kerber’s moment to remind us not just how wonderful that 2016 final was, but also how she played a superb match which could only have been combatted by a great player in irresistible mood.

For while this really does look the most open ladies' singles for years, if Kerber, after a desperately uninspired spell, can rediscover the spark of confidence that ignited her landmark two-slam 2016 campaign, then she could still be the one they all have to beat.

If, on the other hand, she becomes the first No.1 seed to be despatched in the first round since Martina Hingis 16 years ago, her world No.1 spot will swiftly be devoured by the likes of the languid Karolina Pliskova or Simona Halep.

Pliskova, who looked magisterial as she accounted for Caroline Wozniacki in the Eastbourne final, appears to have the perfect booming game for these parts. How has she never managed to get past the second round, her opening opponent on No.1 Court, Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina, may end up wondering.

This is the day we also welcome back Roger Federer to Centre Court, so all is well with the world. If any player could claim this rectangle as his front lawn, wouldn’t it be him? Here he is, still playing ethereally and making us think that, impossibly, he could lift another title as a 35-year-old father of four.

Every time he comes out to play now, he’s trampling over - no, let’s say gliding over - the record books. Today, he begins his 70th Grand Slam - equalling the Open era record of Fabrice Santoro - and seeks an 85th Wimbledon singles win, which would see him pass the mark he holds jointly with Jimmy Connors, although the only record he really seems interested in is that eighth Wimbledon title.

The first obstacle is Alexandr Dolgopolov, a lovely player to watch, full of slicey-dicey, unorthodox touches and that all-or-nothing approach that once had Andy

Roddick noting that the Ukrainian was “aggressive to the point of psychosis”. He was joking, we should add.

Once or twice, ‘Dolgo’ has even been thought of as possessing a touch of the Fed himself and while he would doubtless be as embarrassed as sin by the comparison, this is an awkward starter for Federer - for the rest of us, a treat to behold.

The same can be said of Novak Djokovic’s opening foray, also on Centre Court, against Slovakia’s world No.47 Martin Klizan, an unpredictable, fiery customer who can enjoy discomfiting streaks of brilliance.

Yet as we keep an eye on Djokovic’s increasingly starry coaching box - Boris ‘Boom Boom’ Becker may have gone but now it’s populated by ‘The Las Vegas Kid’ Andre Agassi and ‘Super’ Mario Ancic - it seems, from his Eastbourne triumph, that the three-time champion has run into searing form at a propitious moment.

And so to the teeth of a dilemma on No.3 Court. Who to cheer for in a rousing tale of two Britons? The coming force that is Harrogate’s Kyle Edmund, world No.50 and still rising, or Northampton’s Alex Ward, at No.869 the lowest-ranked qualifier at any Grand Slam for 19 years, a battler worth hailing as he struggles to scrape a living after being sidelined by a wrist injury?

The Court 12 crowd, though, should have no problem throwing their full voice behind 20-year-old Katie Boulter, a rangy 20-year-old from the village of Woodhouse Eaves in Leicestershire, who is seeking to defy a chasm of 178 places in the rankings against New Jersey’s world No.60 Christina McHale.

Katie, whose grandfather is an inventor, says she takes inspiration as a Leicester City football fan in her chances of winning Wimbledon, knowing that they are still rated rather better than the 5,000-1 offered on her team winning the 2016 Premier League. It is time for dreaming.

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