WIMBLEDON, England - The 2019 Wimbledon draw is out and the tournament is set up for a dramatic first week that could result in a rematch of last year's final in the Round of 16.
Defending champion Angelique Kerber and seven-time champion Serena Williams have been drawn in the same section of the draw, in a top quarter led by Roland Garros champion and World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, 2017 champion Garbiñe Muguruza, and a bevy of dangerous seeds and floaters who look primed to pull off some upsets.
For the full draw click here. The bottom half of the draw is scheduled to begin play on Monday, with the top half set for Tuesday.
WTA Insider breaks down the draw below.
Top eight seeds: No.1 Ashleigh Barty, No.2 Naomi Osaka, No.3 Karolina Pliskova, No.4 Kiki Bertens, No.5 Angelique Kerber, No.6 Petra Kvitova, No.7 Simona Halep, No.8 Elina Svitolina
Top Half: Barty, Bertens, Kerber, Kvitova
Bottom Half: Osaka, Pliskova, Halep, Svitolina
Projected Round of 16: Barty vs. Bencic, Serena vs. Kerber, Bertens vs. Wang Qiang, Stephens vs. Kvitova, Svitolina vs. Sevastova, Vondrousova vs. Pliskova, Halep vs. Sabalenka, Wozniacki vs. Osaka.
Last year: Angelique Kerber d. Serena Williams, 6-3, 6-3.
Ashleigh Barty, Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza land in a brutal quarter
Roland Garros champion and newly-minted World No.1 Ashleigh Barty leads a top quarter of a draw that is packed with former champions and surging hot hands. Why are we calling it the Group of Death?
Here's who landed in the top quarter along with Barty: Serena Williams, defending champion Angelique Kerber, 2017 champion Garbiñe Muguruza, Nottingham finalist Donna Vekic, s'Hertogenbosch champion Alison Riske, Kaia Kanepi, Belinda Bencic, Birmingham finalist Julia Goerges, and Maria Sharapova. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Alison Van Uytvanck, always dangerous, are also floating in this quarter.
Continuing her bid to win her record-tying 24th major and a finalist last year, Serena will open against Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone, with the winner to face either Kristyna Pliskova or Kaja Juvan. The first possible seed Serena could face is Goerges, a rematch of last year's semifinal, which Serena won 6-2, 6-4.
Get through the first week and Serena could see a rematch of last year's final against Kerber in the Round of 16. Kerber, who has looked incredibly sharp in her run to the final in Eastbourne this week, opens against fellow German Tatjana Maria, with either Kateryna Kozlova or Lauren Davis in the second round. The first seed she could face is No.30 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, though Maria Sharapova could be looming as well. Kerber and Sharapova faced off just last week in Mallorca, where Kerber won 6-2, 6-3.
Barty is playing her first tournament as a World No.1 and top seed at a Slam, but is coming off a title run in Birmingham, which extended her winning streak to 12 consecutive matches. A junior champion in 2011 with a professed affinity and skill on the grass, the 23-year-old has never advanced past the third round at Wimbledon.
Barty begins her tournament against Zheng Saisai, to play either Alison Van Uytvanck or Svetlana Kuznetsova. Looming in the third round could be 2017 champion Muguruza, with a potentially dangerous Round of 16 against the likes of No.13 Bencic, No.22 Vekic, Riske, or the always dangerous Kanepi. Make it through the first four rounds and Serena or Kerber could be waiting in the quarterfinals.
Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens bid to rebound from Paris disappointment.
No.4 seed Bertens and No.6 seed Kvitova both saw their Paris stay abbreviated at Roland Garros due to health (Bertens) and injury issues (Kvitova). Both lead the second quarter of the draw, and while Bertens has so far rebounded well on grass by making the final in s'Hertogenbosch and the currently in the semifinal in Eastbourne, Kvitova is still racing the clock to heal her left forearm injury.
A quarterfinalist last year, Bertens has a good look to defend her points here. She opens against Mandy Minella and the first seed she could face is Lesia Tsurenko, who has made it past the second round just once. The other top seeds Bertens could face in the Round of 16 are Elise Mertens and Wang Qiang, neither of whom have progressed past the third round.
If two-time champion Kvitova is fit to play, she'll open against Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, who is also under an injury cloud after rolling her ankle in Eastbourne and withdrawing ahead of the semifinals. It's a potentially tricky first week draw for Kvitova, who could face Kristina Mladenovic in the second round and Roland Garros semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round, with either Johanna Konta or Sloane Stephens looming in the Round of 16.
If both Bertens and Kvitova get through their early rounds, they could face for the third time this year in the quarterfinals.
Naomi Osaka dealt another tough early draw.
Not unlike Barty, No.2 Osaka is looking to make the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. To do it she'll have to find her best tennis from the get-go.
The 21-year-old opens against Yulia Putintseva, who knocked her out of Birmingham just two weeks ago with a 6-2, 6-3 win in the Round of 16. Avenge that loss and Osaka could face 18-year-old Iga Swiatek, the reigning junior champion who made the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, with Sofia Kenin a potential third-round opponent. The feisty American, who defeated Serena at Roland Garros, is coming off a big win at the Mallorca Open, where she came back to defeat Bencic to secure her second title of the year.
If Osaka can make her first Wimbledon Round of 16, Caroline Wozniacki or Caroline Garcia could be waiting for her. Garcia is having yet another strong grass season, winning the title in Nottingham and making the quarterfinals in Mallorca.
Simona Halep is the other top seed in the Osaka quarter, along with the always dangerous Madison Keys and Aryna Sabalenka. Unseeded and looming in Halep's tight section are Victoria Azarenka and Alize Cornet, who face-off in the first round, and an intriguing first-round match between the oldest woman in the draw, 39-year-old Venus Williams and the youngest woman in the draw, American qualifier 15-year-old Cori Gauff.
Cori Gauff gets her dream opener.
The 15-year-old ranked No.301 made good on her Wimbledon wildcard into qualifying, defeating Aliona Bolsova, Valentyna Ivakhnenko, and Greet Minnen without losing a set to become the youngest woman in the Open Era to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon.
Speaking to reporters after qualifying, Gauff said she was distraught after losing to Daria Kasatkina in the second round of Miami this spring because she missed out on a chance to play Venus in the third round.
Thanks to the draw gods, the youngster gets her wish. Venus won four of her seven major titles before Gauff was born in 2004.
Karolina Pliskova is the one to watch in the third quarter.
The No.3 seed is playing some fantastic tennis in Eastbourne, where she's already into the semifinal, and her bona fides on grass are well-proven. But there's just something about Wimbledon that seems to trip up the big-serving Czech. Despite her prowess on the surface, Pliskova only made it past the second round last year, where she fell in the Round of 16 to Bertens.
Much like Madison Keys, it seems it's only a matter of time until Pliskova makes a deep run at SW19, and she'll come into Wimbledon under the radar. She opens against China's Zhu Lin and could face Hsieh Su-Wei in the third round, though the talented slice-and-dicer has a tricky opener against last year's semifinalist Jelena Ostapenko.
Pliskova's potential seeded opponents in the Round of 16 are Marketa Vondrousova or Anett Kontaveit, and the four seeds she could face in the quarterfinals are Elina Svitolina, Maria Sakkari, Petra Martic, and Anastasija Sevastova. It's a workable path for Pliskova if she can get banish her Wimbledon yips.
Notable first-round matches: Naomi Osaka vs. Yulia Putintseva, Venus Williams vs. Cori Gauff, Alize Cornet vs. Victoria Azarenka, Hsieh Su-Wei vs. Jelena Ostapenko, Simona Halep vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Donna Vekic vs. Alison Riske, Belinda Bencic vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Maria Sharapova vs. Pauline Parmentier, Laura Siegemund vs. Katie Swan, Lesia Tsurenko vs. Barbora Strycova, Andrea Petkovic vs. Monica Niculescu, Sloane Stephens vs. Timea Bacsinszky, Petra Kvitova vs. Ons Jabeur, Petra Martic vs. Jennifer Brady, Karolina Muchova vs. Aleksandra Krunic, Daria Kasatkina vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Dayana Yastremska vs. Camila Giorgi.