Serena, Venus Eye Title Defense
Published June 22, 2009 09:30
LONDON, UK - There are several intriguing storylines to follow in the Wimbledon women's doubles draw this fortnight. Among them: can the Williams sisters put their round of 16 loss at Roland Garros behind them and win their fourth title here and second straight; will Cara Black and Liezel Huber add a Grand Slam to their already impressive 2009 resumé; and can Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual triumph at a Grand Slam other than the French Open?
Despite being seeded only fourth, Serena and Venus Williams are the favorites to many, and history supports that. The 2000, 2002 and 2008 champions have an incredible 23-1 record here, their only loss coming in the round of 16 in 2003, and the Australian Open is the only other tournament where they have this many titles.
As for Black and Huber, despite a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour-leading four titles this year, the No.1-ranked doubles players in the world and the top seeds here have fallen in the quarters of the Australian Open to Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama and the semis of the French Open to eventual champs Medina Garrigues and Ruano Pascual. The 2005 and 2007 champs could be tested in the first round, as they face off with Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, who in 2009 have won Estoril and been runners-up to Black and Huber at Birmingham.
Medina Garrigues and Ruano Pascual have lost in the round of 16 in their two appearances together here (2007 and 2008), but the second-seeded Spaniards have momentum from their second straight Roland Garros title and fifth title overall.
There are several other teams also worth watching at the All-England Club. Third-seeded Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs, who started an exclusive partnership at the beginning of this year, are coming off a runner-up showing in Eastbourne last week in which they eliminated Black and Huber in the semis. Fifth-seeded Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai, two-time winners on Tour this year and semifinalists at Roland Garros, have an intriguing first round clash against Sorana Cirstea and Caroline Wozniacki. Seventh-seeded Victoria Azarenka, twice a doubles titlist this year, and Elena Vesnina are coming off a runner-up finish at Roland Garros. No.9 seeds Lisa Raymond, champion here in 2001 with Stubbs and runner-up last year with Stosur, and Vera Zvonareva team up, as Raymond's usual partner in 2009, Kveta Peschke, is nursing a left abdominal injury. Tenth-seeded Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova, two-time titlists on Tour this year, have an intriguing opener against the Radwanska sisters. Eleventh-seeded Spaniards Nuria Llagostera Vives and María José Martínez Sánchez are three-time champs on Tour this year. No.14 seeds Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo, semifinalists at the Australian Open, also have three titles this year. Sixteenth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and Amélie Mauresmo, runners-up here in 2005, won Miami this year.