As expected, both the Australian Open and French Open finals earlier this season involved Serena Williams. Much more surprisingly, she failed to finish the
job on either occasion. Serena suffered a stunning upset at the hands of Angelique Kerber before being the victim of a less-shocking-but still
unexpected-result at Roland Garros, where Garbine Muguruza took down the top seed. Will Wimbledon be Serena's time to restore order to the WTA Tour, or is
another shocker in the cards?
Odds provided by Bovada Sportsbook.
Favorite: Serena Williams (+150)
When Serena toppled Muguruza in last year's Wimbledon final, tennis fans had to think it was the third gem of what would be a calendar-year Grand Slam for the world No. 1. But it wasn't, and Serena has not won a major title since. She got positively shocked by Roberta Vinci in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinal prior to her 2016 setbacks at the hands of Kerber and Muguruza.
But will a return to grass signal a return to dominance? There is plenty of reason to think so. Serena is 79-10 lifetime at this tournament-only at the U.S. Open does she have a better slam record (84-10)-with six titles. The 34-year-old has won it four times since 2009, making it her best major since the start of that season. Last summer she dropped only two sets on the way to glory, first while flirting with disaster against Great Britain's own Heather Watson and then to arguably the second-best player in the tournament in Victoria Azarenka.
Underdog worth a look: Madison Keys (+1400)
American men are not exactly Grand Slam singles contenders at the moment, but the same cannot be said of the United States' contingent on the ladies' side. And it's not all about Serena and Venus Williams. The next generation is headlined by Keys, who at 21 years old is already into the top 10 following her title in Birmingham last week. Not unlike the Williams sisters, Keys is physically gifted at 5-foot-10 and is one of the biggest hitters on tour. That is part of the reason why she can be especially productive on grass.
Both the surface and the draw should help her these next two weeks. The Boca Raton, Fla. resident is in a section of the bracket topped by Kerber and Simona Halep. That is workable. Most importantly, it means Keys is on the other side of the draw from Serena. The stars may be aligned for the world No. 10 to go even farther than she did last year, when a quarterfinal run ended with a tough three-set loss to Agnieszka Radwanska.
Take a shot at a long shot: Agnieszka Radwanska (+2500)
Radwanska has never won a slam, but she soared to the Wimbledon title match in 2012 and has reached major semifinals on four other occasions. And at none of the four big ones is the third-ranked Pole better than she is at Wimbledon. In her last eight trips to the All-England Club, Radwanska has lost prior to the fourth round only once. In addition to her 2012 runner-up performance, that stretch also features to quarterfinal showings and two semifinal performances (2013 and 2015).
A relatively modest 2016 campaign up to this point has been highlighted by semifinal finishes at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells. On both occasions Radwanska bowed out at the hands of Serena, who is sweeping their head-to-head series 10-0. Radwanska simply cannot prevail in that matchup, but if someone else manages to knock off the world No. 1, Radwanska will instantly become a serious title contender.
Best Value: Petra Kvitova (+600)
Few players have their results predicated on the surface under their feet to a greater extent than Kvitova. Consider this: since the start of Wimbledon in 2012, the 26-year-old Czech has reached Grand Slam quarterfinals four times; three of those performances have come at Wimbledon. During the same span, she has been bounced in the fourth round or earlier on 12 occasions; only once since 2009 has Kvitova suffered such a fate at the All-England Club. The world No. 11 has struggled this season, but a return to Wimbledon may be just what the doctor ordered.
Pick: Serena Williams (+150)
The value isn't anything to go crazy over at +150, but at least Serena is more than even money ( on the men's side, for example, Novak Djokovic is favored over the entire field, and he is less than even money at -150). Serena has gone three straight slams without winning, and she arguably should have won each of the last three without too much trouble. You can bet her motivation level to avoid a fourth consecutive significant upset will be off the charts over the course of the next fortnight.
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Read more articles by Ricky Dimon
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