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samsam4087
Jun 23rd, 2007, 10:52 PM
Ladies' Singles Preview

The most notable aspect of the women's draw for the 121st Championships is the throwing together of world number one and top seed Justine Henin into the same section as two-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, who is seeded seventh. The two met at the same stage of the French Open earlier this month, Henin winning in straight sets for the loss of seven games before going on to take the Roland Garros title for the fourth time in five years.

However, the 25-year-old Belgian has got no closer to the Wimbledon title than two appearances as runner-up, in 2001 when she lost to Serena's sister, Venus, and last year when she was beaten by Amelie Mauresmo.

Henin's start should be an undemanding one, against an Argentinian qualifier Jorgelina Cravero, with a possible fourth round confrontation with the 15th seed Patty Schnyder of Switzerland.

In theory there could be an all-Williams final, as there was in both 2002 and 2003, since Venus is in the bottom half of the draw as 23rd seed, facing the possibility of a fourth round clash with the second seed and 2004 champion, Maria Sharapova.

Mauresmo's hopes of defending her title have not been improved by illness and injury blighting much of this season, and she is seeded no higher than fourth as a result, also in the lower section of the draw. Mauresmo begins against the American Jamea Jackson but could need to get past some formidable eastern European opposition in the Czech Nicole Vaidisova (seeded 14th), and either the Russian Nadia Petrova (11) or the French Open finalist Ana Ivanovic of Serbia (6) to progress to the semi-final stages.

The other top ten Serb, Jelena Jankovic, seeded third and a firm betting choice of many to take the title, starts against the British number one and wild card, Anne Keothavong. There is the intriguing possibility of a quarter-final for Jankovic against the resurgent Martina Hingis, a Wimbledon champion ten years ago.

Hingis is one of five former champions in the 2007 field, the others being the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, Sharapova and Mauresmo. With the possible exception of Venus, who has struggled to find form after a wrist injury, any of the others must be regarded as a strong contender. Having won the Australian Open without anything much in the way of preparation, Serena is another heavy betting favourite.

But everything, it would seem, hinges on that prospective quarter-final against Henin in a line-up which features 17 Russian women, compared with 11 from the United States, the nation which dominated at Wimbledon until so recently.