Alex Mann has written two pieces ahead of the third grand slam of the year. This is his Wimbledon 2022 Women’s Preview.
Wimbledon 2022 Women’s Preview
by Alex Mann
Can Swiatek continue her dominance and add a third major, or will someone finally crack the code and end her 35-match winning streak? The last few weeks of the grass-court season may have given us an indication of who has successfully swapped their clay court shoes for grass, but it still feels like this Wimbledon title is up for grabs.
We know that Russian and Belarussian players will not be competing at this year’s tournament at SW19 due to their Wimbledon ban. Last year’s semi-finalist and world number 5, Aryna Sabalenka, is banned from competing as well as world numbers 12 & 19 Daria Kasatkina & Victoria Azarenka. Other players such as world numbers 24, 27 & 29 – Veronika Kudermetova, Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Ludmilla Samsonova will also miss out.
Iga Swiatek has been the dominant force in women’s tennis since the retirement of the defending Wimbledon champion, Ash Barty. She has won 6 titles this year, including 4 Masters 1000 titles and Roland Garros. Unbeaten in 35 matches across both the hard and clay surfaces, her last loss stretches back to February 2022, when Jelena Ostapenko beat her.
Although she is yet to play on grass this year, she has the previous form on the surface, having won the girl’s title at the All England Club in 2018 and made the fourth round in the women’s tournament last year. Although she is the heavy favorite to win here and extend her impressive unbeaten run, if there was a surface where someone could upset her, particularly in the early rounds, it could be here on grass.
Although suffering a disappointing first-round exit at Roland Garros, Ons Jabeur has risen up the rankings this year to a career-high of 3 with two titles to her name; a WTA 1000 title in Madrid and last week’s title on grass at the German Open. Her unique game style, particularly favoring the drop shot to draw opponents into the net consistently, makes her a tricky opponent and something which may be rewarded on grass. She has experience on the surface, having made the quarter-final of Wimbledon last year, beating Swiatek in the fourth round. Although consistency has evaded her in the past, this has improved this season. Ons should be on track for a deep run. A threat for the title.
It was three years ago at Wimbledon where she made her breakthrough as a 15-year-old beating Venus Williams in the first round. It has taken a few years for Guaff to find her feet, but she recently reached the Roland Garros final, losing to an unstoppable Iga Swiatek. At a career-high ranking of #12, Coco has made the fourth round in her two previous appearances at SW19, losing to Wimbledon champions Halep and Kerber, respectively. The grass seems to suit her game, so if she can carry her success over from the clay, Guaff is a contender to make it to back-to-back major finals.
Two-time major winner, and 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep will be hoping to regain the Venus Rosewater Dish, having been unable to defend the title last year due to injury. In her last match at SW19, she put in a mesmerizing performance to beat Serena Williams to lift her second major title. Halep has been one of the most consistent players for the past decade, being ranked inside the top 10 for seven years until 2021, when injuries took their toll. She has 23 tour titles to her name, including two on grass. Although she has had mixed results this year, her counterpunch game, exceptional movement, and defensive skills are effective on grass, and having won the title once before. I wouldn’t be surprised if she repeats this.
Ones to watch
Off the back of an exceptional 2021, reaching two major semi-finals and gathering 9 top 10 wins, Sakkari reached a career-high of number 3 this year and made the final of Indian Wells, losing to Iga Swiatek. Her performances on grass have been very inconsistent, and she has never made it past the third round of Wimbledon. However, a semi-final appearance at the German Open last week suggests she can improve on her past performances at SW19 and make a deep run in the tournament.
The Olympic Gold medalist and former world number 4 is a formidable grass-court player, having made the fourth round twice and won the junior Wimbledon title in 2013. She has four wins over top-10 players on the grass in her career. Most recently, she reached the German Open final last week, losing to Ons Jabeur after retiring due to injury. She likes to take the ball on the rise, which is rewarded on the grass. Bencic is one to look out for if she is fit for Wimbledon.
The former number 1 and Wimbledon runner-up last year, Karolina Pliskova, has the game to upset almost any player. Possessing one of the fastest serves on tour, Pliskova’s game seems built for grass. She previously won grass-court tournaments in Nottingham and Eastbourne, so she hopes to better last year’s finals performance and take home the title.
The 2021 French Open champion was injured for much of this year after a stellar last season. Krejcikova is a Wimbledon doubles champion and reached the fourth round last year in singles, losing to Ash Barty in two tough sets. She only returned to action at Roland Garros, losing in the first round, so she has had little competition since the beginning of the year. If she can find some form, she is a threat.
Former Wimbledon champions Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza will always pose a threat on grass, as well as former semi-finalist and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. The ever-consistent Elena Rybakina and Elise Mertens are also ones to look out for. Although they have little grass-court experience, Paula Badosa and Amanda Anisimova can be dangerous opponents.
We will see the return of Serena Williams for the first time since her horror leg injury she suffered at Wimbledon last year. She intends to play doubles with Ons Jabeur in Eastbourne as a warm-up tournament before heading to the All-England Club. Although she will be low on matches and unseeded, you can never count out a 7-time Wimbledon champion.
Emma Raducanu has the game to play on grass, but due to her recent injury woes and lack of court time, it seems improbable that she will make a deep run in the tournament.