Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Bookmakers bet on Mauresmo to retain women's title

AFP , LONDON

Amelie Mauresmo is hoping to reap a dividend from another heartbreaking early exit from the French Open when she launches the defense of her Wimbledon women's singles crown next week.

The 27-year-old will only be seeded fourth, in line with her current world ranking and behind top seed Justine Henin, Russian star Maria Sharapova and the fast-rising Serb, Jelena Jankovic.

But it is the powerfully-built Mauresmo who will start the tournament as the bookmakers' favorite to end the fortnight with the Venus Rosewater Dish in her arms.

That the Frenchwoman has a near perfect game for grass has never been in doubt, but the fragility of her confidence always represented a barrier to her realizing her full potential at the All England Club.

Things changed for the better last year, however, when Mauresmo mounted a stirring fightback to beat Henin in the final, and she believes the lingering positive vibes from that experience will bolster her self-belief in this year's tournament.

"Going back to Wimbledon as champion will be a great feeling," she said. "I'm staying in the same house there as last year and there will be many good memories."

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