Five women to watch at Wimbledon

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Image caption: Marketa Vondrousova was the sixth different women’s singles champion since Serena Williams won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016

Marketa Vondrousova was described as the “most unlikely Wimbledon champion” after claiming last year’s women’s title.
Few predicted before the Championships that the unseeded Czech would go on to lift the trophy.
Guessing the 2024 winner could prove difficult too, with the draw appearing open for the grass-court Grand Slam.

BBC Sport looks at five key players who could challenge for the coveted Venus Rosewater Dish.
Coco Gauff – the prodigy
Image caption: In 2019, Gauff became the youngest player to come through qualifying to reach the main Wimbledon draw since the Open era began in 1968
Age: 20 Country: US Ranking: 2 Strength: Backhand
It’s been five years since five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams suffered a famous defeat at the hands of a 15-year-old Coco Gauff.
The win hurled Gauff – ranked 313th at the time – into the limelight and she went on to have an incredible run that year, reaching the last 16.
She claimed a long-predicted first Grand Slam title at last year’s US Open and arrives at SW19 this year as the second seed.
But Gauff has not been able to better her magical 2019 run at Wimbledon, falling at the first hurdle last year to compatriot Sofia Kenin.
Former British player Naomi Broady said: “Coco is a fighter. She is a Grand Slam champion now and she did that at home – that is probably the toughest one for her to win with all the expectations and pressure.”
Ons Jabeur – the Minister of Happiness
Image caption: Jabeur has lost all three of the major finals she has played in
Age: 29 Country: Tunisia Ranking: 10 Strength: Drop shot
Just over a year ago, Ons Jabeur – dubbed the ‘Minister of Happiness’ for her upbeat demeanour – walked off Centre Court in tears.
She entered her second straight Wimbledon final as the overwhelming favourite but left again as the runner-up, crumbling under pressure in a straight-set defeat to Vondrousova.
This has been a difficult season for Jabeur, who has been struggling with form and a niggling knee injury.
But she is always a crowd favourite at the All England Club and will be hoping to make it third time lucky should she make it to the final this year.
“Ons is always going to be a favourite at Wimbledon – her game just fits seamlessly on the grass,” explained Broady.
“She almost wanted it too much the last two years. I don’t necessarily think it was the level of her tennis that stopped her becoming a Grand Slam champion.”
Iga Swiatek – the Queen of Clay
Image caption: Swiatek lost to Elina Svitolina in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year
Age: 23 Country: Poland Ranking: 1 Strength: Forehand
Swiatek enters Wimbledon as the world number one but has landed a tricky draw and many will put others ahead of her when assessing the title favourites.
She enjoyed a sensational clay-court season, winning back-to-back WTA 1,000 titles in Madrid and Rome before claiming her third straight French Open.
Despite being a former junior champion at Wimbledon, it remains the only major where she has not gone beyond the quarter-finals and she has never won a grass-court title on the WTA Tour.
“I think she can be dangerous on any surface,” Broady said.
“As we saw with Rafael Nadal, who had a similar situation going on with his titles at Roland Garros, with experience and in the years to come she’s really going to be dangerous there [at Wimbledon].”
Aryna Sabalenka – the tiger
Image caption: Sabalenka has lost each of her two Wimbledon semi-finals after being a set up
Age: 26 Country: Belarus Ranking: 3 Strength: Forehand
Sabalenka proved in January that she was no ‘one-Slam wonder’.
A second straight Australian Open title, won without dropping a set, showed she had stamped out the inconsistencies that hampered her early career.
She has come within touching distance of a Wimbledon final in her last two appearances, but let slip a one-set lead against Karolina Pliskova and Jabeur in 2021 and 2023 respectively.
Nicknamed ‘The Tiger’ because of a tattoo on her left forearm, Sabalenka’s big-hitting game is well suited to grass courts. However, there are question marks over her fitness – she retired injured for the first time in her career at the Berlin Open earlier this month with a shoulder issue.
However, Broady thinks Sabalenka is “due her Wimbledon title”.
“Sabalenka on her form and the way she steps up to the big moments, her mental toughness – I think it might be Aryna’s time,” Broady said.
Emma Raducanu – the underdog
Image caption: Raducanu missed Wimbledon last year to recover from wrist and ankle surgeries
Age: 21 Nationality: Great Britain Ranking: 168 Strength: Mentality
Expectations were high for Raducanu when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon as an 18-year-old in 2021.
They rose even higher when she claimed an astonishing Grand Slam title at the US Open just a couple of months later.
But optimism around Raducanu has wavered as she has struggled to reach the staggering heights of three years ago – not helped by an injury-plagued 2023 season.
But this is a summer of “new starts” for Raducanu, who has put together a solid grass-court season, reaching the semi-finals in Nottingham and claiming her first top-10 win at Eastbourne.
“Emma won’t be a name anyone wants to see next to theirs,” Broady said.
“She isn’t the firm favourite to win every match and I say that as a positive thing. I think sometimes when you are more of the underdog you can play more freely.”

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