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Wimbledon 2017 Dates and Tournament Preview: Victoria Azarenka returns as Petra Kvitova continues her comeback at the All England Club

Live Tennis Staff in News 13 Jun 2017
  • Wimbledon 2017 is live from the All England Club, London from 3 July-16 July, 2017
  • Victoria Azarenka returns while two-time champion, Petra Kvitova continues her comeback
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Wimbledon at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Victoria Azarenka plays her first Grand Slam as a mother. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova continues her comeback from hand surgery while Victoria Azarenka plays her first Grand Slam as a mother as The Championships 2017 holds at Wimbledon from July 3-16.

Due to different reasons, recent Grand Slams had been without some of the WTA’s most glamorous stars- Serena Williams is pregnant, Victoria Azarenka became a mother, Petra Kvitova was unfortunately attacked by a knife-wielding burglar during the off-season, Maria Sharapova served a drugs ban, Ana Ivanovic retired... but the big guns are slowly finding their way back to the court, with Kvitova and Azarenka joining the Wimbledon field this year. 

Maria Sharapova was due to be part of the qualifying tournament (she couldn’t quite work her way into the main draw after the expiration of her doping ban), but she will miss the entire grass court season because of a muscle injury.

In the absence of Serena Williams, elder sister Venus will fly the Williams flag at Wimbledon this year, and she has arguably got as good a chance as anyone to claim the title. The 36-year-old claimed the most recent of her five Wimbledon titles in 2008, but she returned to the semi-finals for the first time in seven years last season, and has put together a very solid 2017 thus far. Venus lost to Serena Williams in the final of the Australian Open- her first Grand Slam final since 2009, and has backed it up with a semi-final in Miami, quarter finals at Indian Wells and Rome, and a Round of 16 run at Roland Garros. Back on the surface where she is most potent, and at a tournament where she has created many beautiful memories, can Venus defy age and end a nine-year wait for a Grand Slam title? It's a very good shout!

Not much was expected from Petra Kvitova when she made an earlier-than-expected return from hand surgery at the French Open, but now, with some grass court practice behind her, and on her most productive surface, the two-time Wimbledon champion carries a much bigger threat at SW 19. An emotional Kvitova made a winning return to the tour at the French Open, beating American, Julia Boserup in the first round, but she came unstuck in the second round, falling in two tie breaks to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Can she build on that on her return to Wimbledon? 

Kvitova enjoyed a real purple patch at Wimbledon between 2010 and 2014 when she made the quarter finals or better (including blasting her way to her two titles in 2011 and 2014), but she has not gone beyond the third round since then. Provided she is fully recovered from her injuries, the Czech has a very good opportunity this year given the openness of the field.

Victoria Azarenka also looks set to make her return at Wimbledon, in what will be her first Grand Slam since last year’s French Open. Azarenka announced her pregnancy last July, and gave birth to her first child in December. She was initially set to return for the hard court season later in the year, but so well have her training and recovery gone that she has decided to give grass a shot.

Azarenka is yet to win Wimbledon- she has been to a couple of semi-finals in 2011 and 2012, and the quarter finals in 2009 and 2015, but she has generally struggled for consistency in London. Expecting her to make a telling impact at the All England Club will be asking a bit too much. Her major victory would be that she is back playing Grand Slam tennis again.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko on grass. The 20-year-old Latvian clearly has the game to excel on the surface, with her aggressive hitting and very good movement, and it would not be a big surprise if the confident Latvian backs up her Roland Garros heroics with a decent run at Wimbledon. Even before the French Open, she had shown flashes of her major potentials at the Australian Open, where she had a 5-2 lead on Karolina Pliskova (with the double break) in the third round. She couldn’t quite see that one over the line, but she made amends for it in style with a quite brilliant run to the French Open title. It didn’t come at a canter for Ostapenko, as she really had to work for it. Several times she was down, including during the final against Halep, but she overcame periods when she threatened a meltdown to battle through adversity. That only bodes well for the future. No one is really expecting her to win Wimbledon, right? Right.

Karolina Pliskova will have her sights set not only on a strong run at Wimbledon, but firmly on the title. With her power game, and form through the year, Pliskova arguably goes in as the favourite to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish after the Wimbledon fortnight. It’s amazing to note that the tall Czech is yet to go beyond the second round at Wimbledon, but then again, prior to her run to the US Open final last year, she had not been beyond the third round of any major. Results and consistency finally began to match the undoubted potential with her title-winning run at Cincinnati last year, which preceded that runner-up finish at the US Open.

Now firmly entrenched amongst the top ladies in the sport, she has continued in the same vein this season, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, and making a surprise semi-final at Roland Garros on her least favoured clay. Pliskova also picked up titles in Brisbane and Doha, made semi-finals at Indian Wells and Miami, and was a set away from claiming the number one ranking at the French Open. She has the major weapons required to succeed at Wimbledon- this could be her year.

The frustratingly inconsistent Garbine Muguruza also gets a mention. Clay remains Muguruza’s most productive surface, but with her power game, she is very capable of a deep run at Wimbledon. She got to the final a couple of years ago, after all.

It’s really tough to back anyone else in a typically unpredictable field, but Simona Halep, the number two player in the world presents a very good case. She has been in good form lately, with a title in Madrid and successive finals in Rome and Roland Garros (albeit on clay), and she has a decent record at Wimbledon, having made the quarter finals last year, and the semis a couple of years before. (She did lose in the first round in 2015- and a similar result isn’t exactly out of the question!).

World number one, Angelique Kerber , last year’s Wimbledon finalist should naturally be very high on the list of title favourites, but Kerber’s indifferent form in 2017 doesn’t inspire much confidence. Much like Andy Murray in the men’s draw, she has struggled to reproduce the sort of tennis that took her to number one in the world in 2016 (and yielded two Grand Slam titles), and is basically hanging on to that top ranking by a thread. Kerber is still yet to win a title this year, with her best result being a runner-up finish in Monterrey. With a final spot to defend at Wimbledon this year, she will do extremely well to stay at number one at the end of the tournament.

Another lady enduring a difficult year is Agnieszka Radwanska, who hasn’t found any form whatsoever since a run to the Sydney final in the opening weeks of the season. The former Wimbledon finalist has always found joy at the All England Club, with three semi-finals (or better) in the last five years; can a return to England spark a return to form for the slippery Pole?

Johanna Konta spearheads the home challenge, looking to build on her third round finish last year, while big-hitting Madison Keys and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are also worth a mention.
We will have to watch and see how the grass court season shapes up, but I’ll make Karolina Pliskova my early favourite for the title.

The Championships is live from Wimbledon from 3-16 July.

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Wimbledon 2017 Dates and Tournament Preview: Victoria Azarenka returns as Petra Kvitova continues her comeback at the All England Club

Live from Wimbledon from 3 July- 16 July, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka join the rest of the stars as they bid for Wimbledon glory

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