Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Story lines abound at Wimbledon

Seven things to watch for at Wimbledon, which begins Monday at the All-England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club:

Serena Williams' winning streak

Hard to imagine a bigger favorite to win a Grand Slam title than No. 1 Serena Williams at Wimbledon this year. She is the defending champion; she's on a 31-match winning streak, the longest single-season run in women's tennis since her older sister won 35 in a row in 2000; she's 74-3 since Wimbledon a year ago. Williams has claimed three of the past four major titles to raise her career total to 16.

Who challenges her?

Start with Maria Sharapova, who won the title in 2004 by beating — you guessed it — Williams in the final. But though Sharapova put up a fight in this year's French Open final against Williams, the Russian has lost their past 13 meetings. Petra Kvitova, the 2011 champion, seems to have the grass game figured out; No. 2-ranked Victoria Azarenka is a two-time semifinalist; Agnieszka Radwanska and Marion Bartoli have been runnersup.

Federer's bid for eight

Until this year's French Open, no man had eight titles at one Grand Slam. Rafael Nadal got No. 8 in Paris, and Roger Federer can try to match that at Wimbledon. Federer is the defending champion, and he's still as good as it gets on grass; he finally ended a 10-month title drought by winning a tuneup tournament on the surface at Halle, Germany.

Murray and 1936

Andy Murray is no doubt tired of hearing the name "Fred Perry" and the year "1936" — and we all will hear those words over and over as Murray again tries to give Britain its first male champion since then. A year ago, Murray became the first British man to reach the final since Bunny Austin in 1938, then lost to Federer in four sets. Murray went on to win Olympic gold at the All England Club, beating Federer in the final. And in September, at the U.S. Open, Murray became the first British man in 76 years to win any Grand Slam singles title.

The usual suspects

Nadal and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic have combined to win 11 of the most recent 13 Slams. Those two plus Federer have collected 31 of the past 33. Djokovic won Wimbledon in 2011, and Nadal has two titles plus three runnerup finishes; neither played a tuneup tournament on grass, but that might not matter.

Like a fine wine

Tennis' older set is doing fine, thank you. Whether it's Williams, 31 (the oldest No. 1 in WTA history); David Ferrer, 31 (at the French became the oldest first-time Grand Slam finalist since 1973); or Tommy Haas, 35 (the oldest quarterfinalist at Roland Garros since 1971), age is suddenly nothing but a number. There are 12 players 30 or older in the WTA's top 100; 15 years ago, there were only three.

Pound for pound

The total prize money at Wimbledon is jumping about 40 percent from 2012 to 2013, going from about $25 million to about $35.5 million. And the men's and women's singles champions will each earn about $2.5 million, up from about $1.8 million.

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