5 things at Wimbledon: Williams, Sharapova start
Jun. 24, 2014
LONDON (AP) — While normally the defending women's champion at Wimbledon opens Centre Court on Day 2, that honor goes to 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki this time.
Last year's winner, Marion Bartoli, will be present Tuesday, too — but only to take part in the ceremonial pre-match coin toss, because she announced her retirement at age 28 in August.
There were those who expected Serena Williams to play Tuesday's first match in the main stadium, owing to her status as the most recent Wimbledon women's champ who's still active (her fifth title at the All England Club came in 2012), as well as being seeded No. 1.
Instead, Williams will play Tuesday's third match on Centre Court, part of an unusual scheduling setup. It's rare for there to be two women's matches on both Centre Court and Court 1 on a given day at Wimbledon.
"The (WTA) tour has voiced our opinion on equal coverage on the courts. I don't think we want more or less," Williams' older sister Venus said. "It's so wonderful that Wimbledon listens to not only the women's players but the men's players and all the players. It's just wonderful to have that dialogue back and forth."
Here are five other things to look for Tuesday at Wimbledon:
WILLIAMS VS. TATISHVILI: Serena Williams is 14-0 in first-round matches at Wimbledon, 54-1 overall in openers at major tournaments. She's coming off a second-round loss at the French Open in her most recent tournament, so she is likely to try to take that disappointment out on Tatishvili, who is currently on a nine-match losing streak. The 113th-ranked Tatishvili — who recently changed her nationality from Georgian to American — has a 6-13 career record at Grand Slams. The 19th-seeded Lisicki, meanwhile, faces 79th-ranked Julia Glushko of Israel.
SHARAPOVA STARTS: Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17 but is still waiting for a second title at the grass-court major. She is coming off her fifth Grand Slam title, at the French Open, and starts off at the All England Club on Court 1 against Samantha Murray of Britain. Murray, a wild-card entry ranked 247th, has never won a set in tour-level, main-draw action. "I don't know much about her," Sharapova said. "I will try to find some videos, do a little scouting."
ROGER AND RAFA: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played each other in three consecutive Wimbledon finals from 2006-08, with Federer winning the first two, Nadal the third. A year ago, Nadal lost in the first round, and Federer in the second. They start to work on making up for their 2013 flops on Tuesday, when Nadal meets hard-hitting Martin Klizan, a Slovakian ranked 51st, and Federer takes on Paolo Lorenzi, an Italian ranked 83rd.
TOWNSEND VS. SEEDED PLAYER: Taylor Townsend, an 18-year-old American who got a wild-card invitation into the field, makes her Wimbledon debut against 31st-seeded Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic. Townsend has a quick-strike game that's fun to watch and should feature plenty of old-school serve-and-volley play on the grass.
MARATHON MAN: No. 9-seeded John Isner of the U.S. faces British wild-card entry Daniel Smethurst on Court 3. Isner is a big server best known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010. Britain's Andy Murray was asked what sort of advice he'd offer Smethurst, who'll be making his tour-level debut. "If he can get himself into some winning situations late in sets or tiebreaks," Murray said, "it can come down to one or two points against Isner."
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