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Wimbledon ’19: Serena eyes 24th; Sharapova makes Slam return

June 27, 2019
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FILE - In this June 8, 2019, file photo, Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates after winning her women's final match of the French Open tennis tournament against Marketa Vondrousova, of the Czech Republic, at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Barty will be competing in the 2019 Wimbledon tournament.(AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Women to watch at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday:

ASH BARTY

Seeded: 1

Ranked: 1

Country: Australia

Age: 23

2019 Match Record: 36-5

2019 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 6

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2019)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-Lost in 3rd Round, 2017-1st, 2016-Did Not Play, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Owns a 12-match winning streak, including run to first Grand Slam title at French Open on red clay, followed by title on grass at Birmingham. ... 27th woman to be ranked No. 1. ... Played professional cricket while away from the tennis tour for about 1½ years after the 2014 U.S. Open.

Topspin: If she can accomplish on clay what she did in Paris, imagine how she could fare right now on grass courts, which she much prefers and was the surface on which she made her return to competition in 2016. Certainly should improve on her 2-3 career Wimbledon record.

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NAOMI OSAKA

Seeded: 2

Ranked: 2

Country: Japan

Age: 21

2019 Match Record: 22-7

2019 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 3

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Australian Open (2019), U.S. Open (2018)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-Lost in 3rd Round, 2017-3rd, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-DNP

Aces: Two of her three career tour-level titles came at major tournaments. ... Ranks third this season in total aces; averages 6.8 per match.

Topspin: Coming off a third-round exit at the French Open that snapped her 16-match Grand Slam winning streak; should be able to get a new run started at the All England Club.

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KAROLINA PLISKOVA

Seeded: 3

Ranked: 3

Country: Czech Republic

Age: 27

2019 Match Record: 33-9 (Playing at Eastbourne)

2019 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 13

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: Runner-Up, U.S. Open (2016)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-4th, 2017-2nd, 2016-2nd, 2015-2nd, 2014-2nd

Aces: Faced twin sister, Kristyna, in singles this month, their first pro meeting. ... Reached at least the quarterfinals at 7 of past 11 major appearances. ... Leads WTA by winning 63.2% of service points in 2019.

Topspin: 8-7 career mark and only one trip to second week, a year ago, makes Wimbledon her worst major. Still, if she can get the hang of the footwork, that big serve could carry her far.

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ANGELIQUE KERBER

Seeded: 5

Ranked: 5

Country: Germany

Age: 31

2019 Match Record: 24-10 (Playing at Eastbourne)

2019 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 12

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 — Wimbledon (2018), Australian Open (2016), U.S. Open (2016)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-Won Championship, 2017-4th, 2016-RU, 2015-3rd, 2014-QF

Aces: Shaky start to 2019 included a first-round exit at French Open last month. ... Big straight-set win over Simona Halep in a matchup of former No. 1s put Kerber into the semifinals at a fourth consecutive grass-court event.

Topspin: Her lefty offense-to-defense style causes havoc for opponents at the All England Club, where she reached the final two of the past three years. A strong run at a second championship in a row is not out of the question, no matter her 2019 form.

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SIMONA HALEP

Seeded: 7

Ranked: 7

Country: Romania

Age: 27

2019 Match Record: 29-10

2019 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 18

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2018)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-3rd, 2017-QF, 2016-QF, 2015-1st, 2014-SF

Aces: Winning 46.8% of return points this season, tied for fifth on tour. ... Wimbledon is the only major where she hasn’t been past the quarterfinals since 2014.

Topspin: First attempt to defend a Grand Slam title ended with a quarterfinal loss at Roland Garros. Maybe she’ll fare better with less spotlight, pressure and outside expectations at the All England Club.

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SERENA WILLIAMS

Seeded: 11

Ranked: 11

Country: United States

Age: 37

2019 Match Record: 9-3

2019 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 72

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — Wimbledon (7: 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), Australian Open (7: 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), French Open (3: 2002, 2013, 2015), U.S. Open (6: 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-RU, 2017-DNP, 2016-W, 2015-W, 2014-3rd

Aces: Has five titles and two runner-up finishes in her past 10 appearances at the All England Club. ... Her serve on grass might be the most dangerous combination of shot and surface in tennis history.

Topspin: Blamed lack of fitness and lack of matches for third-round exit at Roland Garros but did not enter any grass-court tuneup tournament, unlike her sister, Venus.

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MARIA SHARAPOVA

Not Seeded

Ranked: 80

Country: Russia

Age: 32

2019 Match Record: 7-3

2019 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 36

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 5 — Wimbledon (1: 2004), Australian Open (1: 2008), French Open (2: 2012, 2014), U.S. Open (1: 2006)

Last 5 Wimbledons: 2018-1st, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP, 2015-SF, 2014-4th

Aces: Hasn’t won a Wimbledon match since a semifinal run in 2015. ... That was also the last time she won any match on grass until this June.

Topspin: Did not compete for more than four months because of recurring issues with her surgically repaired right shoulder. Lack of matches could be the biggest thing to hold her back at the All England Club.

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