Wimbledon 2022: Serena Williams returns to Grand Slam action as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic headline men’s draw

The tournament, which begins on Monday, was shrouded in controversy weeks before a ball was struck at SW19, with organizers banning Russian and Belarus players amid the war in Ukraine.
Indeed, Serena Williams is set to make a return to Grand Slam tennis after a year-long absence from the sport. This week she took part in the women’s doubles event at Eastbourne alongside Ons Jabeur, although the pair had to withdraw from the semi-finals of the tournament after Jabeur suffered a knee injury.
With so little match experience, it’s hard to predict how the 23-time Grand Slam champion will fare at Wimbledon, where French Open champion Iga Swiatek, currently on a 35-match unbeaten streak, is arguably the favorite to win the women’s singles title.

In the men’s draw, Rafael Nadal has a chance to equal Williams’ tally of 23 Grand Slam titles, but he’s set to face stiff competition from top seed Novak Djokovic, who is looking to win his fourth consecutive title at Wimbledon.

Serena returns

Williams told CNN earlier this year that she was “not giving up” on her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title, but her appearance at Wimbledon came as a surprise nonetheless.

The 40-year-old, who got a wild card for the tournament, will face France’s Harmony Tan in the first round.

A stone's throw from Wimbledon, players struggle and strive to qualify for the main draw

Although grass is not her favorite surface, world No. 1 Swiatek’s supreme form so far this year puts her well placed to win a third Grand Slam title and her first at Wimbledon – although she won the girls’ championship in 2018. She faces Croatian qualifier Jana Fett in the first round.

Ashleigh Barty’s retirement from tennis earlier this year means there will be no defending champion in the women’s draw, but former Wimbledon champions Simona Halep, Garbiñe Muguruza and Angelique Kerber are among the top 16 heads series.
Teenagers Emma Raducanu, the US Open champion playing in her home grand slam, and Coco Gauff, the French Open runner-up, could also benefit from deep runs in the draw.

Nadal and Djokovic lead the men’s draw

On the men’s side, the two best players in the world ranking will be absent – Daniil Medvedev due to the ban on Russian players and Alexander Zverev due to a long-term injury suffered at Roland Garros.

This means few would be watching Nadal and Djokovic for this year’s title, with the Spaniard looking to win his third straight Grand Slam title.

Djokovic faced Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Hurlingham Club in London earlier this week.
Nadal’s participation at Wimbledon looked doubtful after revealing the extent of his ongoing foot injury at Roland Garros, relying on daily injections to get through the tournament.

But ahead of Wimbledon he said he hadn’t limped for a week, adding that “day by day the pain has been different and that’s progress”. He will make his first appearance at the tournament in three years against Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo.

Djokovic, meanwhile, could move a Grand Slam title behind Nadal if he triumphs at SW19. In doing so, he would become the fourth man in the Open Era to win four consecutive Wimbledon titles after Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg.

If the draw progresses according to the seeds, Djokovic and Nadal will meet in the Wimbledon final for the second time.

Other contenders for the men’s title include Matteo Berrettini – last year’s runner-up who triumphed at the Queen’s Club this week – French Open runner-up Casper Ruud and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

An added incentive for players at Wimbledon this year is the increase in the prize money to £40,350,000 (around $49,400,000) – a 15.2% increase on last year. The winners of the men’s and women’s singles finals, which take place on July 9 and 10, will each take home £2 million (about $2,450,000).

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, it will also be the first time in three years that the tournament can be held at full capacity.

Another piece of history has already been written at Wimbledon after players were allowed to practice on the show courts ahead of the tournament for the first time.

With several players slipping on the surface last year, the decision allows players to get used to the conditions and help lay down on the courts, organizers say.

How to watch

For viewers in the US, Wimbledon will air on ESPN and the Tennis Channel, while the BBC and Eurosport will show the action for UK viewers.

A full list of broadcasters for countries around the world is available here.


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