Wimbledon Preview: Williams Sisters Look to Conquer Grass Once More

Chris Oddo aka The Fan ChildCorrespondent IJune 21, 2009

LONDON - JULY 05:  Venus Williams of United States and Serena Williams of United States celebrate with the trophy winning the women's doubles Final match against Lisa Raymond of United States and Samantha Stosur of Australia on day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
There has only been one ladies' singles final at Wimbledon this decade that didn't include a Williams sister. That statistic appears safe following the release of this year's draw.

At Wimbledon, the '80s were owned by Martina Navratilova and the '90s by Steffi Graf, but this decade has seen the grass at Wimbledon play host to the annual Williams family reunion.

Venus Williams, with five titles and two runners-up in the last nine finals, will look to equal the legendary Billie Jean King's total of six championships. Of the dynamic sisters, Venus definitely has the more favorable draw, with a possible fourth-round match against French Open semifinalist Samantha Stosur or Ana Ivanovic, and possible contention in the quarters from struggling Serb Jelena Jankovic.

If she advances to the semis, Venus will more than likely face either Dinara Safina or Svetlana Kuznetsova, who have the disadvantage of being drawn in the same quarter.

"I think she's everyone's worry," said Serena, when asked about the threat of her sister in this year's event. "You know, I think she has proven herself to be the best grass-court player in our generation."

Serena, who was thrashed by Venus in last year's final 7-5, 6-4, will have to overcome some hurdles if she plans to avenge that loss.

With 2004 champ Maria Sharapova and 2009 French Open quarterfinalist Victoria Azarenka in her quarter, the two-time champ and two-time runner-up will be tested. Serena, who lost to Sharapova in the 2004 final, is 5-2 lifetime against the 6'2" Russian.

Serena is 2-1 against Azarenka in her career, but their last match was won by the Belarusian in Miami. The 19-year-old world No. 8 appears to be one of a handful of young ladies on the tour destined for a breakthrough.

Threats to the Dynasty

The Williams Sisters quite clearly have the edge going into the fortnight, but their dominance on grass can't last forever. As sensible as it would be to put your money on one or both of the Williams sisters to get to the final, there are a handful of girls who are hell bent on ensuring that their reign of terror at Wimbledon finally comes to an end.

Dinara Safina: As disappointing as her loss in the French Open final was, Dinara is not going to give up her dream of winning a slam that easily. While she's never been past the third round at Wimbledon, her power game and vicious serve—when she's not a mess of nerves out there—can definitely cause a world of trouble for the competition.

Caroline Wozniacki: If she wants to do some damage, she'll have to get through a quarter of the draw that also includes Safina and Kuznetsova. It'll be tough, but winning a title yesterday on grass in Eastbourne can only help her confidence.

Maria Sharapova: Maria looked so good in Paris that it's hard to not consider her a threat to win here on the grass. If her shoulder holds up, and she's not too worn down by playing five grueling matches at Roland Garros, Maria could find herself staring across the net at Serena Williams in a quarterfinal match.

Victoria Azarenka: She's got the game, but does she have the maturity? The 5'10" dynamo has made major strides this year. She was close to a breakthrough at Roland Garros—she took a set from Safina in the quarters—and there is no reason to believe she won't be close to a breakthrough at Wimbledon either. But close doesn't mow the grass.

Svetlana Kuznetsova: It's not like Svetlana to play two good tournaments in a row. Since she won the French, a flameout seems more likely than another title, but there is something about the calm that the 24-year-old has been exuding of late. Anything is possible.

You Never Know

Will this be the year that the dark horse tramples the freshly manicured lawns of the palace, or will Wimbledon 2009 prove to be another lesson in dominance by a pair of sisters with a couple of battery-sized chips on their shoulders? Most would say the latter, but as Nadal's upset in Paris proves, nothing is engraved in silver, and only the strongest will survive.

Let the games begin.