The grass tennis season, a pleasant five-week interlude, is like a dash of Pimm’s on a warm day at the All England Club. It’s refreshing, invigorating -- and it evaporates in the blink of an eye.

This season, including the Grand Slams and the Olympics, there are 57 tournaments on the Hologic WTA Tour. Seven of them are on grass, which works out to just over 12 percent.

As you might expect, even elite players can struggle on this slippery slope; the learning curve is steep but ultimately surmountable. Reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova came into last year’s event with a 7-12 career record on grass, including qualifying -- and promptly won all seven of her matches. She was the only unseeded woman to win the singles title at Wimbledon in the Open Era.

World No.1 Iga Swiatek’s only junior Grand Slam singles championship came at Wimbledon, but her record as a professional is a modest 13-7 on grass. That 65.0% winning percentage pales in comparison to her clay success rate of 89.4%.

And while the surface sets up nicely for power players like Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka, it also rewards creativity and diversity of game -- as evidenced by Ons Jabeur’s back-to-back runs to the final the past two years.

Wimbledon begins on Monday. Here are some of the enticing storylines in play in the early rounds:

Hot out of the gates on Day 1

The World No.2 and No.3 players on the PIF WTA Rankings will both be in action Monday. Coco Gauff faces fellow American Caroline Dolehide, while Sabalenka takes on Emina Bektas, who has never won a main-draw singles match at a major.

But Sabalenka comes into this event reeling. She has been bothered by a shoulder injury that she concedes won’t get any better as the fortnight moves on.

[UPDATED: Sabalenka withdrew from the tournament ahead of her match against Bektas citing her shoulder injury. Erika Andreeva moves into the main draw as a lucky loser.]

Injured or not, Sabalenka still has the moves off the court:

Gauff will take the court at a major for the first time as the No.2 player in the world. She passed Sabalenka after Roland Garros. Gauff has yet to advance past the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.

Former Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducanu, Victoria Azarenka and Bianca Andreescu will also be in action Monday.

Full order of play here: Wimbledon Day 1

First-round matches

It’s a major collision right out of the box as Swiatek, the freshly minted Roland Garros winner, meets 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin on Day 2. This is a rematch of the 2020 French Open final and this year’s first-round match in Melbourne. Swiatek -- then in the midst of a 19-match winning streak -- prevailed in a first-set tiebreak and went on to run her career record against Kenin to 2-0.

No.13 Jelena Ostapenko, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2018, meets wild card Ajla Tomljanovic, a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist. Tomljanovic won four straight matches a week ago in Birmingham before falling to Yulia Putintseva in the final. The two have a bit of history, having played a hotly-contested third-round match in 2021.

No.22 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova takes on 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu. Alexandrova reached the Round of 16 here a year ago -- her best major result -- and Raducanu, who also has a fourth-round result, will be playing in front of a supportive home crowd.

Wild, wild wild cards

Among the eight wild cards granted by the All England Club, four are Grand Slam singles champions, three of them mothers: Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki and Naomi Osaka.

The results haven't been falling her way, but Osaka's form has been top-notch. She held match point on Swiatek at Roland Garros, went down in a tight third-set tiebreak to Andreescu on the grass at Den Bosch, and it took a season-record 23 aces from Zheng Qinwen to beat her in three sets in Berlin. 

Vondrousova defends title

It’s been an uneven year for Vondrousova, who has won back-to-back matches only three times this season. After reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, her only foray into grass was in Berlin, where she took a nasty fall and retired with a right hip injury from her second match against eventual finalist Anna Kalinskaya.

The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic draws Jessica Bouzas Maneiro in the first round. The Spaniard is only 21 and gained direct entry after raising her ranking primarily through ITF and WTA 125 events. An early departure could well knock Vondrousova out of the Top 10.

Compelling comebacks

Karolina Muchova, last seen playing in the US Open semifinals, resurfaced last week in Eastbourne. Following surgery on her right wrist, the 27-year-old from the Czech Republic won two matches before pulling out of her quarterfinal match against Madison Keys.

Muchova, a two-time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, is scheduled to meet Paula Badosa in a first-round match.

Jessica Pegula, returning from a rib injury that kept her off the European clay courts, is another comeback story. Pegula split two matches in the Netherlands, then ran the table in Berlin, defeating four Top 40 players -- Donna Vekic, Katerina Siniakova, Coco Gauff and Kalinskaya. She saved five match points in the rollicking 6-7 (0), 6-4, 7-6 (3) final over Kalinskaya.

Pegula lost her first match last week in Eastbourne to Raducanu. It was the British player’s first Top 10 win.

Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

Fun Fact

Swiatek, Rybakina or Danielle Collins have a chance to become only the third player since 2020 to win a WTA-level title on grass, clay and hard court in a calendar year, following Ashleigh Barty (2021) and Caroline Garcia (2022).

Quality qualifiers

The two top seeds in qualifying, Katie Volynets and Bai Zhuoxuan, both won their three matches to reach the main draw. None of the players seeded No.3-19 were so fortunate.

Perhaps the least likely qualifier is Alycia Parks, who lost 13 straight matches between January and May. A week ago in Gaiba, Italy, she saved two match points in a qualifying match and went on to win five more in the main draw and the WTA 125 title.

Parks aced her Wimbledon qualifying test and is one of seven unseeded players to advance and guarantee herself 60,000 pounds. She’ll face Wozniacki in the first round.

Wimbledon by the numbers

This is the 24th edition of the Wimbledon tournament since the turn of the century -- the worldwide pandemic forced cancellation in 2020.

In that span, Serena (seven) and Venus (five) Williams won a combined 12 titles. Petra Kvitova (2011, 2014) was the only other multiple winner. Kerber (2018), Rybakina (2022) and Vondrousova (2023) are the only former champions in the field.

Among players in the draw, Kerber (38) and Victoria Azarenka (36) have compiled the most singles wins at the All England Club.

And how about some young stars who are about to battle Monday?