WIMBLEDON, England - The Wimbledon draw is out and all eyes were on who 7-time champion Serena Williams would draw in the first round. As it turns out, there was no blockbuster first round draw for Serena, and that's perfectly good news for the American.
To see the full draw click here.
Top eight seeds: No.1 Simona Halep, No.2 Caroline Wozniacki, No.3 Garbiñe Muguruza, No.4 Sloane Stephens, No.5 Elina Svitolina, No.6 Caroline Garcia, No.7 Karolina Pliskova, No.8 Petra Kvitova.
Top half: Halep, Muguruza, Garcia, Kvitova.
Bottom half: Wozniacki, Stephens, Svitolina, Pliskova.
Projected quarterfinals: Simona Halep vs. Petra Kvitova, Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Caroline Garcia, Karolina Pliskova vs. Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina vs. Caroline Wozniacki.
Projected Round of 16: Halep-Mertens, Ostapenko-Kvitova, Muguruza-Kasatkina, Kerber-Garcia, Pliskova-Venus, Goerges-Stephens, Svitolina-Keys, Vandeweghe-Wozniacki.
Last year's final: Garbiñe Muguruza d. Venus Williams, 7-5, 6-0.
Serena Williams emerges as the big draw winner.
The 7-time Wimbledon champion benefitted from a seeding bump ahead of The Championships, with the Wimbledon seeding committee slotting Serena Williams in at No.25. As a result, we knew Serena would not face a seeded player until the third round but with the depth of the women's game these days, a seeding does not necessarily guarantee you safe passage through the first week.
As it turned out, Serena is positioned as well as she could have hoped to be after Friday's draw. She will not face a Top 100 player in the first two rounds and the first seed she could face is Elina Svitolina, who has yet to win a grass court title.
Serena has been drawn into the fourth quarter of the draw, in the quarter anchored by No.2 Caroline Wozniacki and No.5 Svitolina. Serena will open her campaign against No.107 Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands and then play either No.136 Victoriya Tomova or No.167 Tereza Smitkova in the second round. From there, Serena's projected path would be either 2017 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova or Madison Keys, and then potentially Wozniacki or CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarterfinals.
We still do not have many data points to assess Serena's form in her comeback, but defeating Krystina Pliskova, Ashleigh Barty, and Julia Goerges on the clay in Paris has to give her fans confidence that the American can play herself into form with this Wimbledon draw.
Four Slam champions land in the top quarter.
Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Jelena Ostapenko, and Maria Sharapova have all landed in the top quarter of the draw, making it an intriguing dogfight to see who will emerge as a semifinalist. All eyes are on two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who is playing the best tennis of her career this season. She has notched double-digit win-streaks on hard court and clay already this year, and she goes into Wimbledon already on a six-match streak on grass after winning her 5th title of the year in Birmingham. She has won two titles on hard court, two titles on clay, and one title on grass. If Kvitova wins her third Wimbledon title, that will make it two titles on grass. Who doesn't love symmetry?
In contrast, confidence for the upcoming fortnight is tough to measure for No.1 Halep, Ostapenko, and Sharapova. Halep has not played an event since winning Roland Garros three weeks ago, but she is a former Wimbledon semifinalist. Ostapenko did well to make her first Wimbledon quarterfinal last season, but has yet to prove herself to be a consistent grass court threat. And while Sharapova won the title as a 17-year-old in 2004, she has made it past the fourth round just once since making the final in 2011, where she lost to Kvitova.
Halep looks to extend her hold on the No.1 ranking.
The newly-minted French Open champion will extend her stay atop the WTA rankings during the Wimbledon fortnight to 36 weeks. The Romanian has held the No.1 spot for 36 of the last 40 weeks, including the last 20 consecutive weeks after overtaking Wozniacki in February.
Only No.2 Wozniacki and No.4 Sloane Stephens can unseat Halep at No.1, but each woman would need a career-best result to do so.
Assuming Halep does not withdraw ahead of the tournament, Wozniacki must reach the final to have a chance at retaking the No.1. If Halep reaches the semifinal, then Wozniacki would need to win the title outright.
Stephens, who has made the final of two of the last three majors, needs to win the title with Halep losing in the first round and Wozniacki failing to make the final. Halep plays Japan's Kurumi Nara in the first round.
Muguruza's title defense begins Tuesday against a dangerous Brit.
Can the Spaniard find her Slam magic once again? The 24-year-old defending champion has won 6 titles in her career but one-third of them have been Slam titles. Garbiñe Muguruza has never successfully defended a title before and she comes into Wimbledon seeking her first title of the season.
Despite being the reigning Wimbledon champion, Muguruza won't have the crowd on her side when she returns to Centre Court for her opening match against Britain's Naomi Broady. Lurking in Muguruza's quarter are No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina, who has beaten Muguruza twice this year, and No.17 seed Ashleigh Barty, who goes into Wimbledon leading the tour in grass court wins this year.
But perhaps the biggest challenge for Muguruza in her quarter is 2016 finalist Angelique Kerber. The German has been in great form throughout 2018, and after a confidence-boosting run to the quarterfinals in Paris, the German has found her footing on the turf. As of this writing, Kerber is into the Eastbourne semifinals and she'll face 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva in the first round. The Russian earned her main draw spot via qualifying.
Opportunity comes knocking in the third quarter.
Who will come out of the third quarter of the draw, which is headlined by No.4 Sloane Stephens, No.7 Karolina Pliskova, and last year's finalist Venus Williams? Stephens has proven herself to be a Slam stalwart as of late, though grass has never been her preferred surface, but the reigning US Open champion finds herself with a very tough opening draw against Croatia's Donna Vekic. If the American can navigate that match then the draw looks great for her. The first seed Stephens could face is Zhang Shuai, with Julia Goerges or Barbora Strycova lurking as a potential Round of 16 opponent.
As for Venus, her 2018 campaign has yet to reach the consistent heights of her incredible 2017 season. Last year, Venus made the Australian Open final, Wimbledon final, WTA Finals final, and US Open semifinal. This season she has played just seven events, with her best result coming during the spring hardcourt season, where she made the Indian Wells semifinal and Miami quarterfinal. In all, Venus has lost four of her last five matches.
Venus comes into Wimbledon seeking her first Slam win of 2018, having lost in the first round of the Australian Open (l. Bencic) and French Open (l. Wang). Despite questions about her form, this is a great draw for Venus to play herself into form and confidence. She opens against Sweden's Johanna Larsson and her first seeded player would be Kiki Bertens, who has struggled on grass.
Notable Round 1 Matches (Top Half): Hsieh Su-Wei vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Alize Cornet vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Sofia Kenin vs. Maria Sakkari, Petra Kvitova vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Naomi Broady, Angelique Kerber vs. Vera Zvonareva, Naomi Osaka vs. Monica Niculescu, Alison Riske vs. Timea Bacsinszy, Belinda Bencic vs. Caroline Garcia.
Notable Round 1 Matches (Bottom Half): Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Aryna Sabalenka, Julia Goerges vs. Monica Puig, Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Barbora Strycova, Andrea Petkovic vs. Zhang Shuai, Sloane Stephens vs. Donna Vekic, Madison Keys vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Katarina Siniakova, Anastasia Sevastova vs. Camila Giorgi, Petra Martic vs. Ekaterina Makarova.
Potential Second Round Clashes: Johanna Konta vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Maria Sharapova vs. Maria Sakkari, Daria Gavrilova vs. Samantha Stosur, Ashleigh Barty vs. Eugenie Bouchard, Yulia Putintseva vs. Daria Kasatkina, Karolina Pliskova vs. Victoria Azarenka, Venus Williams vs. Kristyna Pliskova, Elina Svitolina vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Anastasija Sevastova vs. Aleksandra Krunic, Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Lucie Safarova, Caroline Wozniacki vs. Ekaterina Makarova.