Serena Williams hasn't even sniffed a major title in 2014. She was looking strong in Australia before a fourth-round loss to Ana Ivanovic, and at Roland Garros, she suffered a shocking straight-set defeat to Garbine Muguruza, who was in kindergarten when Williams was winning her first major.
Despite all that, Williams remains the unequivocal favorite at the All England Club. Whether it be the oddsmakers—Odds Shark lists Williams as a heavy 3-2 favorite—or the experts (11 of 12 ESPN analysts picked Williams to win) or the crazy guy talking to his hand on the corner of the street, the consensus is the same.
Really, it doesn't matter how Williams has been playing. As long as she has all of her limbs, it would be a mistake to pick against her at Wimbledon, where she is almost always at her very best. In her career, she is 70-9 overall at the year's third major. She has five titles, has been to the final seven times and has failed to make it to the quarters just three times in her last 13 trips.
Even those picking against Serena, like ESPN's Howard Bryant, are quite confident they've made the wrong choice:
But it goes even further than her dominance at Wimbledon or her transcendent talent level, which is unmatched when she's on top of her game.
Serena also has the motivation.
At 32 years old with 17 Grand Slam titles, you'd think that a disappointing tournament or two wouldn't get to Williams. But it very clearly does. As Sports Illustrated's Ben Rothenberg noted, Williams noticeably had her game face on during her pre-tournament press conference:
When asked how long it took her to get over the loss to Muguruza, via SI's Courtney Nguyen, Williams responded simply.
“Who says I was over it?”
The last time the World No. 1 entered London following a failure to make the quarters in the previous two majors was in 2012. Similarly to this year, she was ousted in the fourth in Australia and first round in Paris.
The latter marked the first time in her career she had lost in the first round of a major, and questions of her health were prominent.
Naturally, she responded by going to England and demolishing the competition: seven wins, 17 sets and her fifth Wimbledon title.
As was obvious then, and as has been made clear many other times in her career, Williams doesn't like to lose.
Fortunately for her at Wimbledon: She won't.