Wimbledon - Countdown: Women to watch
With the most open Wimbledon draw in years, Eurosport Yahoo! looks at the runners and riders heading into the All England Club.
The favourite: Ana Ivanovic
The newly crowned French Open champion and world number one is quickly filling the power vacuum left by Justine Henin
's sudden retirement. Having claimed her first Grand Slam title in Paris at the start of the month, Ivanovic will look to improve on a semi-finals appearance at Wimbledon one year ago. Serbia's 20-year-old superstar withdrew from Eastbourne with a muscle injury, but that was likely just a precautionary measure as she is certain to be ready in time for the All England Club.
The also ran: Jelena Jankovic
A disappointing 2007 singles campaign has caused the Serbian and world number two to abandon her mixed doubles title defence with home favourite Jamie Murray in the hopes of securing greater solo spoils. The decision should help Jankovic improve on her fourth round showing at the All England Club. But unlike her younger compatriot, and despite her world number two ranking, the 23-year-old has yet to truly crack into the big time, falling four times in Grand Slam semi-finals in the past two years. Whether or not she's able to make that final breakthrough in such an open and dangerous field is a matter of debate.
The champion: Venus Williams
The six-time finalist and current holder came out of absolutely nowhere in 2005 and 2007 to storm to two of her four Wimbledon trophies. The American will have to do the same again after going well under the radar in 2008. Her disappointing French Open result was not surprising, and though she has yet to win a title this year Venus is perfectly capable of usurping the form sheet yet again.
Will she or wont she: Serena Williams
Still viewed as the more likely of the legendary sisters to find her form and swoop to a third All England title, Serena will also come into this year's tournaments with a host of questions. Is she fit, is she focused enough on her tennis, will she actually perform to her brilliant abilities? The American number one is still capable of greatness, as she proved at last year's Australian Open and at the start of this year's campaign when she won three consecutive titles. But will that potential shine through on the grassy centre court at SW19?
The girl named Maria: Maria Sharapova
The Russian superstar started the 2008 season in equally spectacular fashion as she ended her 2007 campaign - winning a third career Grand Slam title with her first Australian Open triumph. But the world number three has once again tapered off, crashing out of the French in the last 16 to eventual runner-up Dinara Safina
and losing her number one ranking to Ana Ivanovic just one tournament after taking it from the retired Justine Henin. Still, the 2004 champion is a threat in any Grand Slam and a definite title contender.
The sleeper part two: Dinara Safina
The shock French Open finalist had a brilliant claycourt season, earning astonishing come-from-behind upsets of Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva
at Roland Garros and beating Justine Henin in the Belgian's last-ever match in Berlin. But Marat's hot-headed lil' sis has never been able to translate her game to grass, with a third-round performance her best ever result at the All England Club. The Russian will likely have to wait until Flushing Meadows if she's to make another sleeper run through a Grand Slam draw.
Ms. Consistency (Er... what???) : Svetlana Kuznetsova
The three-time quarter-finalist has never been spectacular on this surface, but is solid enough to make a run at any Grand Slam. A devastating 6-3 6-2 loss to Russian compatriot Safina in the French semis won't likely affect the tough-minded 22-year-old's morale ahead of Wimbledon.
Ms. Inconsistency: Elena Dementieva
If she can hold her nerve and serve, Dementieva could be a true contender at every major. But her capitulation to Safina while leading by a set and 5-2 in the second set, though exactly similar to Sharapova's loss against Safina, is more indicative of mental weakness in Dementieva than it is in the three-time Grand Slam champion. Where her head is at when she comes to SW19 will have a major impact on her game and could have a big effect on the tournament.
The star in waiting: Agnieszka Radwanska
The Polish teenager is coming to age at just the right time, with several notable retirements, including Justine Henin and Martina Hingis
, opening the door for a new generation of stars. Though her upset of then defending champion Maria Sharapova at Flushing Meadows last year was a shock, nobody should be surprised by Radwanska now. A big-hitter in the mould of Sharapova and a former Junior champion at the All England Club, the world number 14 certainly has what it takes to one day become a Wimbledon star.
The fallen finalist: Marion Bartoli
Last year's runner-up overcame Jankovic and Henin on her way to a shock final appearance last year. But the Frenchwoman has struggled horribly since, and her recent second-round exit after receiving a bye at Birmingham does not bode well for her chances in Southwest London.
Former champions Lindsay Davenport
and Amelie Mauresmo
have struggled to overcome injuries, but could have a part to play. Nicole Vaidisova
reached the quarter-finals last year, as did Michaella Krajicek
but neither has performed well this season. Russians Anna Chakvetadze
and Vera Zvonareva
could take advantage of high seeds, as could Hungarian number one Daniela Hantuchova
, while French teenager Alize Cornet
is very well suited for grass.