WIMBLEDON ‘17: Kvitova, Venus Williams past champs in field


By HOWARD FENDRICH - AP Tennis Writer



FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2016, file photo, Angelique Kerber, of Germany, returns a shot to Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, during the women's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, in New York. Kerber is the No. 1 seed women's player at Wimbledon, where play starts Monday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)


FILE - In this March 15, 2016, file photo, Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, reacts to winning a game against Johanna Konta, of Britain, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Pliskova is the No. 3 women's player at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)


FILE - In this March 13, 2017, file photo, Venus Williams returns a shot to Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Venus Williams is making her 20th Wimbledon appearance. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)


Women to watch at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday:

___

ANGELIQUE KERBER

Seeded: 1

Ranked: 1

Age: 29

Country: Germany

2017 Match Record: 19-13 (entering Eastbourne tournament)

2017 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 10

Major Titles: 2 — Australian Open (‘16), U.S. Open (‘16)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-Runner-Up, ‘15-Lost in 3rd Round, ‘14-QF, ‘13-2nd, ‘12-SF

Aces: Still trying to find her way in 2017 after reaching her first three major finals last season, including at the All England Club. … She is 0-7 vs. top-20 opponents this year, after going 24-9 last year.

Topspin: Became first woman seeded No. 1 to lose in the French Open’s first round in the professional era, emblematic of a real step back this season.

___

KAROLINA PLISKOVA

Seeded: 3

Ranked: 3

Age: 25

Country: Czech Republic

2017 Match Record: 32-9 (entering Eastbourne tournament)

2017 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 8

Major Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open (‘16)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-2nd, ‘15-2nd, ‘14-2nd, ‘13-2nd, ‘12-1st

Aces: Leads WTA in aces this season (her twin sister, Kristyna, ranks second). … Only 4-5 for her career at Wimbledon, where the surface should suit her game.

Topspin: Her terrific serve should carry her to more wins on grass than it has so far. … Victory over Serena Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals last year showed what sort of potential Pliskova has.

___

VENUS WILLIAMS

Seeded: 10

Ranked: 11

Age: 37

Country: United States

2017 Match Record: 20-7

2017 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 49

Major Titles: 7 — Wimbledon (‘00, ‘01, ‘05, ‘07, ‘08), U.S. Open (‘00, ‘01)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-SF, ‘15-4th, ‘14-3rd, ‘13-Did Not Play, ‘12-1st

Aces: Making her 20th Wimbledon appearance. … As usual, didn’t play any tuneup events on grass, but has five past titles at Wimbledon.

Topspin: Showed she’s still got game by reaching semifinals at All England Club last year for first time since 2008, then getting to Australian Open final in January.

___

PETRA KVITOVA

Seeded: 11

Ranked: 12

Age: 27

Country: Czech Republic

2017 Match Record: 6-1

2017 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 20

Major Titles: 2 — Wimbledon (‘11, ‘14)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-2nd, ‘15-3rd, ‘14-Won Championship, ‘13-QF, ‘12-QF

Aces: Wimbledon is third tournament of comeback after getting cut by a knife-wielding intruder at her home in December.

Topspin: Many consider her the favorite for what would be her third Wimbledon title. Best news, though, is simply that she is back in competition.

___

JELENA OSTAPENKO

Seeded: 13

Ranked: 14

Age: 20

Country: Latvia

2017 Match Record: 29-11 (entering Eastbourne tournament)

2017 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 1

Major Titles: 1 — French Open (‘17)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-1st, ‘15-2nd, ‘14-DNP, ‘13-DNP, ‘12-DNP

Aces: Surprised everyone, including herself, by winning first career tour-level title at French Open. … 2014 junior Wimbledon champion.

Topspin: With big strokes and confidence to spare, no reason she can’t go far. After all, grass — not clay — is her favorite surface.

___

GARBINE MUGURUZA

Seeded: 14

Ranked: 15

Age: 23

Country: Spain

2017 Match Record: 23-13

2017 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 3

Major Titles: 1 — French Open (‘16)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-2nd Rd, ‘15-RU, ‘14-1st, ‘13-2nd, ‘12-DNP

Aces: Reached first major final at Wimbledon in 2015; the next year, won first major title at French Open.

Topspin: Has struggled all season and does not look ready to contend at the All England Club. In most recent match, lost 6-1, 6-0 on grass at Eastbourne.

___

VICTORIA AZARENKA

Seeded: Unseeded

Ranked: 678

Age: 27

Country: Belarus

2017 Match Record: 1-1

2017 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 20

Major Titles: 2 — Australian Open (‘12, ‘13)

Last 5 Wimbledons: ‘16-DNP, ‘15-QF, ‘14-2nd, ‘13-2nd, ‘12-SF

Aces: Recently returned to the tour after giving birth to a son. Wimbledon will be her second tournament back. … Enters Wimbledon via a protected ranking.

Topspin: She’s twice made the semifinals at Wimbledon and has the muscle memory of two runs to Grand Slam titles. Has missed the past four majors, though, so there is a lot accumulated rust.

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

FILE – In this Sept. 10, 2016, file photo, Angelique Kerber, of Germany, returns a shot to Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, during the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, in New York. Kerber is the No. 1 seed women’s player at Wimbledon, where play starts Monday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/06/web1_117323589-90f869d8316243aa9eab14c5032a5af6.jpgFILE – In this Sept. 10, 2016, file photo, Angelique Kerber, of Germany, returns a shot to Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, during the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, in New York. Kerber is the No. 1 seed women’s player at Wimbledon, where play starts Monday. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

FILE – In this March 15, 2016, file photo, Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, reacts to winning a game against Johanna Konta, of Britain, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Pliskova is the No. 3 women’s player at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/06/web1_117323589-ba4377b81db54e64a8a54f0c2e0db181.jpgFILE – In this March 15, 2016, file photo, Karolina Pliskova, of the Czech Republic, reacts to winning a game against Johanna Konta, of Britain, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Pliskova is the No. 3 women’s player at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

FILE – In this March 13, 2017, file photo, Venus Williams returns a shot to Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Venus Williams is making her 20th Wimbledon appearance. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/06/web1_117323589-bbdffeae29c3479bb546d079cea34812.jpgFILE – In this March 13, 2017, file photo, Venus Williams returns a shot to Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Venus Williams is making her 20th Wimbledon appearance. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

By HOWARD FENDRICH

AP Tennis Writer