Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Serena Williams receives relaxed Wimbledon draw

AP, LONDON

Serena Williams avoided any early matchups against opponents with success to speak of at Wimbledon in a draw on Friday that could put her against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the third round.

Williams is returning to the grass-court tournament for the first time since 2016 after missing it last year while pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter in September last year.

She is ranked outside the top 150, but the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club decided to seed her 25th based on past success, which includes collecting seven of her 23 Grand Slam singles trophies at Wimbledon.

Williams’ first-round opponent when play begins tomorrow is to be 107th-ranked Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, who has one career tour title.

Williams is competing for the first time since she pulled out of the French Open early last month ahead of a fourth-round showdown against five-time major champion Maria Sharapova, citing an injured chest muscle. That was Williams’ return to Grand Slam action after a 16-month absence.

Rus has only once been as far as Wimbledon’s third round, back in 2012. That was the last time she won a match at the All England Club.

She was beaten in the first round of qualifying a year ago, as were both of the women Williams could meet in the second round, 136th-ranked qualifier Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria and 167th-ranked wild-card recipient Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic.

Svitolina has only once been as far as the fourth round.

Williams’ possible fourth-round opponent, Madison Keys, runner-up at last year’s US Open, has made one quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon, while the 36-year-old American’s potential quarter-final foe, reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, has never been beyond the fourth round.

Williams could face her elder sister Venus, a five-time champion and last year’s runner-up, in the semi-finals.

Ninth-seeded Venus Williams opens against 62nd-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden, who is 0-7 at Wimbledon.

The Williams sisters are not in the doubles draw. They have won 14 Grand Slam titles as a pair, including six at Wimbledon.

In the top half of the women’s singles bracket, the quarter-finals could be French Open champion Simona Halep versus two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, and defending champion Garbine Muguruza versus No. 6 Caroline Garcia.

In the bottom half, No. 2 Wozniacki was drawn to face Svitolina, while Sloane Stephens, last year’s US Open champion, could play No. 7 Karolina Pliskova.

The potential men’s quarter-finals in the top half are eight-time champion Roger Federer versus Kevin Anderson, who was runner-up at last year’s US Open, and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic versus No. 6 seed Grigor Dimitrov.

In the bottom half of the bracket, it could be two-time Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal versus 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and No. 4 Alexander Zverev versus No. 7 Dominic Thiem.

Two-time champion Andy Murray is to face 48th-ranked Benoit Paire in the first round. It would be a rematch of Murray’s fourth-round victory over the Frenchman at the All England Club last year.

That was Murray’s last win before he sat out nearly a year because of an injured hip that was surgically repaired in January.

Murray could face 26th-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the second round.

Top-seeded Federer’s opening opponent tomorrow is to be 57th-ranked Dusan Lajovic of Serbia. Their only previous meeting anywhere came in Wimbledon’s second round last year, when Federer won in straight sets en route to the title.

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