Siblings' Top-seed Stronghold at SW19
The sprinklers are sprinkling, the Pimm's is on ice and the orders for overpriced strawberries & cream are in, but wait a minute...
Ladies Wimbledon..? Boring and predictable...? A deadlock that needs to be broken?
You can't blame that on the most dominant family in women's tennis...
It certainly must feel like a second home to the sisters Williams as for the last ten years (barring 2006) the hallowed turf of SW19 has featured one of the dominant duo in each final.
With eight Rosewater Dishes between the two from the last ten years, the Williams camp are considered true owners of centre court when it comes to the ladies event and the remaining 126 runners will look on in anticipation as second favourite Venus (7/2) and defending Wimbledon champion Serena (2/1) ace their way through the opening rounds.
Priced at 1/33 each to win their first round matches Serena finds herself drawn against Portugal's 17-year-old Michelle Larcher De Brito with the Lisbon born starlet most likely cursing her luck and probable early exit. But it will be a fine warm-up for the defending champion.
Venus takes on Paraguay's Rossana De Los Rios at the same price and with neither Williams sister having played any grass-court tennis so far this season, the standard of competition at this point should provide the perfect tonic as the duo warm-up for more challenging action later in the tournament.
So who CAN challenge the Williams sisters?
The defending champion's first real test should come in form of an ever-audible Russian.
Maria Sharapova's injury woes looked a thing of the past at the French Open and although the returning Garros sweetheart Justin Henin beat Sharapova in three sets, the general consensus appeared to be ‘If Maria can play like that on clay, you just wait until Wimbledon' and as such, the Russian's price for the grass-court win began to shorten.
Although Sharapova has not managed to beat Serena Williams in nearly 6 years, she did make the final on Birmingham's grass last week and former Wimbledon champion Sharapova is now priced 9/1 in the 2010 Wimbledon outright betting.
If anyone other than a Williams will feature in the final, it just may be Maria.
Either way, the winner of this fourth round clash will most likely become favourite for a spot in the final from the top half of the draw.
The battle of the Belgians may just highlight the bottom half of the draw as US Open champion Kim Clijsters looks likely to meet Justin Henin in the fourth round.
Two-time Wimbledon finalist Henin launched her comeback on court to try and complete a career grand slam, with Kim Clijsters bidding to reach her first Wimbledon final.
It would be the 25th meeting between the two with the head-to-head series deadlocked at 12 wins a piece and although the SW19 crowd would love to see Henin victorious in her career quest, it's Clijsters who has won both Belgian clashes this season with victories in Brisbane and Miami, both fantastic matches and both decided in 3rd set tie-breakers.
The Clijsters v Henin winner would more than likely meet five-time champion Venus Williams for a place in the Ladies' final.
The major withdrawal from SW19 is Elena Dementieva, the Russian having to put her Wimbledon title hopes on ice after withdrawing with an injury.
If not a winning Williams, then it comes down to Maria Sharapova (9/1), Kim Clijsters (8/1) or Justine Henin (7/1).