LONDON, Great Britain - The year's third Grand Slam is set to get underway on the London lawns on Monday, and there are no shortage of storylines in a wide-open women's field.
The Wimbledon draw was made on Friday morning at the All-England Club by tournament referee Andrew Jarrett, and with five women in contention to rise to the top spot at the start of the event, all eyes were on the draw board as they and the other women in the draw learned what their roads to the Venus Rosewater Dish could be over the next fortnight.
Hear more about the draw in the latest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast:
Here's what you need to know:
Top 8 seeds: Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dominika Cibulkova
Top half: Kerber, Pliskova, Kuznetsova, Wozniacki
Bottom half: Halep, Svitolina, Cibulkova, Konta
Projected quarterfinals: Kerber vs. Kuznetsova, Ka. Pliskova vs. Wozniacki, Cibulkova vs. Svitolina, Halep vs. Konta
Last year's final: Serena Williams def. Angelique Kerber, 7-5, 6-3
Check out the full 2017 ladies' singles draw here.
Angelique Kerber, Karolina Pliskova, and Simona Halep lead the battle for No.1.
One of five players could leave SW19 with the No.1 ranking, adding to the excitement of an already story-filled fortnight. With Halep's loss this week to Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber will extend her stay atop the WTA Rankings through Wimbledon, bringing her total to 34 weeks at No.1.
Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber will have a chance to move to No.1 during Wimbledon. Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki can also take the top spot depending on results at Eastbourne.
World No.3 Pliskova, who lost in the second round last year at Wimbledon, is in pole position for the top spot, with a projected post-Wimbledon minimum total of 6,630 (or 6,795 if she wins Eastbourne) points.
World No.2 Halep will be dropping Wimbledon quarterfinal points (430) and championship points from Bucharest (280) after Wimbledon. She will need to reach the quarterfinals to have a chance at moving to No.1, unless Pliskova wins Eastbourne; in that case, Halep will need to reach the semifinals.
A finalist last year, Kerber is defending 1300 points and will need to reach the final to have a chance of retaining her No.1 ranking.
No.4 seed Svitolina and No.5 seed Wozniacki would each need to win the title and have other results fall in their favor. If Pliskova wins the title in Eastbourne, both are out.
Kerber and Halep will open their tournaments against qualifiers. Pliskova opens against Evgeniya Rodina, Wozniacki opens against Timea Babos, and in one of the toughest first-round draws, Elina Svitolina will face Aegon Classic finalist Ashleigh Barty.
The bottom half of the draw is loaded with champions.
The biggest question heading into the Wimbledon draw was how the seeded block of players from No.10 to No.14 would shake out. That block included Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams, Jelena Ostapenko, Kristina Mladenovic, and Garbiñe Muguruza, all women with the pedigree and recent form to do some bracket-busting in the draw.
As it turned out, three of the five landed in Halep's bottom half of the draw, along with a number of dangerous unseeded floaters such as Victoria Azarenka and CiCi Bellis (who face each other in the first round), Marketa Vondrousova, Eugenie Bouchard, Kristyna Pliskova, Camila Giorgi, and aforementioned Barty.
Venus, Ostapenko, and Kvitova all have very workable draws here, which would set up a fantastic sprint to the finish in the second week. Venus opens against Elise Mertens and the first seed she could face is No.22 Barbora Strycova in the third round, with a struggling No.8 Dominika Cibulkova potentially in the fourth round.
No.13 seed Ostapenko opens against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with her first possible seed being No.17 Madison Keys, who is still working her way back into form after wrist surgery. Ostapenko could face Svitolina in the fourth round, but that's assuming the Ukrainian, who has struggled with a foot injury and contemplated pulling out of the tournament, can make it to the second week. Svitolina has yet to progress past the second round at Wimbledon.
As for No.11 seed Kvitova, she comes into Wimbledon fully rested after pulling out of Eastbourne and riding the confidence of her Aegon Classic title. She opens against Johanna Larsson, could face No.21 seed Caroline Garcia in the third round, with Johanna Konta (who withdrew from Eastbourne on Friday with a spine injury) possibly waiting in the Round of 16.
Three key first-round matches that could tilt the fortnight:
Victoria Azarenka vs. No.40 CiCi Bellis: The 18-year-old American is the best pure competitor of the younger set and she's proven over the last 12 months that she's the real deal. Bellis advanced to the semifinals of her first tour-level grass court tournament ever at the Mallorca Open, scoring quality wins over Carla Suárez Navarro, Kristyna Pliskova, and Mona Barthel.
Bellis will be more than game to take on former No.1 Azarenka, who showed equal signs of form and rust in her first tournament in 11 months after her break to have a child. Playing at the Mallorca Open, Azarenka saved match point to beat Risa Ozaki in three sets but then bowed out quickly to No.28 Ana Konjuh.
The winner of Azarenka/Bellis could have a good look at a run to the second week, as they've been drawn into the section anchored by last year's surprise semifinalist, Elena Vesnina, and Mallorca Open champion Anastasija Sevastova. Whoever gets out of that section could face No.2 Halep in the Round of 16.
No.4 Elina Svitolina vs. No.44 Ashleigh Barty: This match-up could result in the first significant exit of the tournament, and could pave the way to a Kvitova or Konta run to the semifinals. No.44 Barty has had a fantastic grass season, making the quarterfinals in Nottingham and her first Premier final in Birmingham. Her only two losses on grass came to Kvitova and Konta, while notching wins over Muguruza, Strycova, Giorgi, and Vondrousova. A former junior Wimbledon champion, there's no secret that the young Aussie is the more comfortable player on the turf. This is a dangerous match for the No.4 seed.
No.7 Johanna Konta vs. No.112 Hsieh Su-Wei: This is a chance for revenge for the British No.1, who was ousted by Hsieh in a frustrating first-round loss at the French Open, bowing out 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. Konta is no natural on grass, but her performance this week at the Aegon International in her hometown of Eastbourne proved that she can be a danger. En route to the semifinals, she beat two Slam champions in Kerber and Ostapenko, all on the same day. Unfortunately, she had to withdraw the next day due to a back injury she sustained in a scary slip and fall against Kerber, which saw her back and head snap into the grass.
Konta will have a few days to recover -- she plays Monday -- but a repeat of the result in Paris would surely open up the draw for Kvitova. The two are projected to meet in the Round of 16.
Notable first-round matches: Cibulkova vs. Andrea Petkovic, Svitolina vs. Ashleigh Barty, Konta vs. Hsieh, Bellis vs. Azarenka, Petra Kvitova vs. Larsson, Lucie Safarova vs. Oceane Dodin, Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Jelena Jankovic, Lesia Tsurenko vs. Julia Goerges, Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Eugenie Bouchard, Timea Bacsinszky vs. Monica Puig, Monica Niculescu vs. Magdalena Rybarikova, Sabine Lisicki vs. Ana Konjuh, Sloane Stephens vs. Alison Riske, Camila Giorgi vs. Alizé Cornet, Natalia Vikhlyantseva vs. Donna Vekic
Potential notable second-round matches: Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Ekaterina Makarova, Kristina Mladenovic vs. Alison Riske OR Sloane Stephens, Daria Kasatkina vs. Anett Kontaveit, Caroline Wozniacki vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, Johanna Konta vs. Natalia Vikhlyantseva OR Donna Vekic, Elena Vesnina vs. Victoria Azarenka
Doubles: Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands bid for the BUCIE Slam
The doubles draw is also out and the big storyline for the fortnight is No.1 Safarova and Mattek-Sands aiming to win the non-calendar Slam. Team "BUCIE" made it three Slams in a row with their French Open title three weeks ago, and a Wimbledon title, their first, would complete the set.
Another team to keep an eye on are No.8 seeds Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua (or team "ABCD," as we like to say). The Aussies have won three titles on three different surfaces this year and have made the final or better in their last three events, including a runner-up run in Paris where they lost to Team BUCIE. Dellacqua has made seven major finals in doubles -- four of them with Barty -- and has become a heavy sentimental favorite to finally break through and get a title.
Check out the full ladies' doubles draw here.