Venus Williams and the Top 10 Women's Grass Court Players Now

Alex French@alex_frenchCorrespondent IJune 14, 2011

Venus Williams and the Top 10 Women's Grass Court Players Now

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    EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Venus Williams of USA plays a forehand in her match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany during Day Three of the AEGON International at Devonshire Park on June 13, 2011 in Eastbourne, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Ima
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Traditional grass courts are out of the ordinary, so to speak.

    The surface is known to play slightly slower than clay and hardcourt, the other two used on the professional tour.

    Mostly known in Great Britain, grass courts date back to the 1870s when the Championships at Wimbledon first took place.

    Initially men's singles was the only event held, but a decade later ladies singles was added to the tournament and have been competing each year since.

    With Wimbledon approaching in less than a week's time, fans will be looking to choose their favorite to take home the crown on July 3rd. 

    The tournament seeds have yet to be drawn, so here are the current top 10 women's grass tennis players. 

1. Venus Williams

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    EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Venus Williams of USA plays a backhand in her match against Andrea Petkovic of Germany during Day Three of the AEGON International at Devonshire Park on June 13, 2011 in Eastbourne, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Ima
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Although most of her 2011 has been marred by injury, one cannot help but notice Venus Williams's previous track record on grass court events.

    This five-time Wimbledon champion is considered one of the all-time greats on grass because her playing style caters so well to the tendencies of grass courts.

    Known for her powerful serves and strong backhand, Williams' strengths are accentuated because of the low-bounce and slick conditions of the surface.

    Williams is currently competing in the AEGON International, an all-grass event held in Eastbourne, United Kingdom where she has advanced to the second-round. 

    Known as a tune-up for the All England Club, expect the elder sister to continue her good form on the lawn and deep into June/early July come tournament time. 

2. Caroline Wozniacki

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    PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 27:  Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark hits a backhand during the women's singles round three match between Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia on day six of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 27, 2011 in
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Currently the holding the number one spot in the WTA rankings, Caroline Wozniacki is literally on top of the world.

    The 20-year-old Dane has enjoyed success on grass from the get-go, winning the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament and Junior Wimbledon tournament in 2006.

    After graduating from the junior tennis ranks, Wozniacki improved her game and position in the rankings each year, winning three titles in 2008 and and 2009, and adding six more tour titles in 2010.

    One of the three titles in 2009 included the AEGON International.  There's no arguing that Wozniacki will be looking to add to this list and continue her recent good form next week.

3. Maria Sharapova

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 02:  Maria Sharapova of Russia hits a backhand during the women's singles semi final match between Na Li of China and Maria Sharapova of Russia on day twelve of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 2, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Phot
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Maria Sharapova hasn't won a grand slam title since 2008, and has only won once at Wimbledon since 2004.

    Yet Sharapova's ascension in the WTA ranks as of recent makes for an interesting argument here. 

    Currently ranked 6th, her highest position since November 2008, Sharapova has changed coaches and is looking to continue her climb.

    Sharapova's playing style revolves around her power via ground strokes and serves, which perfectly suits the grass court style of play. 

    The 24-year-old recently withdrew from the AEGON International, a grass court warm-up tournament held the week prior to Wimbledon, due to illness.

    She has competed in that event seven times, winning the title twice and losing in the finals to 2011 French Open Champ Li Na last year.

4. Li Na

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04:  Na Li of China celebrates a point during the women's singles final match between Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Na Li of China on day fourteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Cli
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Li Na is in the best form of her life, coming off of a French Open singles title as well as an Australian Open finals appearance this year.

    Not only that, but her history of success on grass also speaks for itself.

    Na won the AEGON Classic, another warm-up event held the week prior to Wimbledon, last year defeating Sharapova in straight sets. 

    The year prior she lost in the finals of that same event to Magdalena Rybarikova of Serbia.  Though her prior Wimbledon results do not speak out loud, her current form should see her advance deep in the tournament.

5. Justine Henin

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    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21:  Justine Henin of Belgium serves in her third round match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia during day five of the 2011 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Camero
    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

    Although Justine Henin's remarkable achievement of seven grand slam titles does not include one at Wimbledon, she has reached the finals twice and has won on grass several times before. 

    In 2006 and 2007, Henin won the AEGON International—then known as the Hastings Direct International Championships.

    In addition to her experience on the tour and on grass, Henin's game fits the grass surface well because of her powerful serve and diverse use of the backhand, utilizing the drop and groundstroke shots.

    ESPN's John McEnroe described Henin's one-handed backhand as one of the best in the game, in both men's and women's tennis.

    Moreover, Henin's serve speed has been clocked at over 100 miles per hour, which makes the return on grass all the more difficult. 

6. Serena Williams

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Serena Williams of USA returns a shot during the Ladies Singles Final Match against Vera Zvonareva of Russia on Day Twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 20
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Serena deserves to be on this list even though she hasn't played in 12 months for a number of reasons.

    First off, she is the defending Wimbledon champion.  After returning from a foot injury and subsequent blood clots for this year's tournament, Serena is determined to make the most of her second chance at playing tennis.

    The look on her face in that picture says enough, doesn't it?

    In addition, Serena has won the Wimbledon title three times prior to her 2010 victory.  She knows how the grass courts play and in response plays to those strengths.

    The reason why she is so successful on grass is because of her power.  The low-bounce the grass gives to the ball makes it difficult for opposing players to return her shots.

    Fatigue and rust may hinder Serena's chase at a fifth Wimbledon title, but her experience could carry her farther than people expect.

7. Kim Clijsters

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    KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 25:  Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus inspects her racquet against Kim Clijsters of Belgium during the Sony Ericsson Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 25, 2011 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Im
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Number two isn't always that bad.

    Kim Clijsters currently occupies that spot in the WTA world-rankings, and though she has only twice reached as far as the semi-finals at the All England Club, she is the current Australian and U.S. Open singles champion.

    You may be wondering, what does that have to do with her performance on grass though?

    Tennis is a game of current form, or how well one is playing at any given stretch of time.  Players experience both dips and climbs in consistency, and Clijsters is riding a wave of confidence right now.

    She has won two grand-slam singles titles already this year, don't be surprised if she makes a serious run at a third.

8. Vera Zvonareva

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    PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 29:  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia serves during the women's singles round four match between Vera Zvonareva of Russia and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia on day eight of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2011 in Pari
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    There's no doubt that Vera Zvonareva is chomping at the bit to get back onto Centre Court.

    Having lost to Serena Williams last July in the singles final and finishing runner-up in the doubles final a few days prior, there's no doubt that Zvonareva is looking to finish what she started.

    Mental fragility has been recognized as a weakness of hers, but as analysts Lindsay Davenport and Pam Shriver recently alluded, her maturity and ability to control said emotions allowed for her to make runs to two grand slam finals last year, with the other being the U.S. Open.

9. Sabine Lisicki

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    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Sabine Lisicki of Germany plays a forehand during the Ladies Final against Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia during day eight of the AEGON Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club on June 13, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo b
    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Sabine Lisicki is fresh off of a grass tournament title, winning the AEGON Classic in straight sets over Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova.

    Her farthest venture into the depths of the Wimbledon bracket was in 2009 when she was defeated in the Quarterfinals, but Lisicki missed the Championships in 2010 due to injury, so look for this German to make her presence known at the All England Club.

10. Andrea Petkovic

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    EASTBOURNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Andrea Petkovic of Germany in action against Venus Williams of USA during Day Three of the AEGON International at Devonshire Park on June 13, 2011 in Eastbourne, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Petkovic was the runner-up in last year's UNICEF Open, the other annual grass court tournament the WTA holds in the Netherlands.

    Losing to Justine Henin, Petkovic wasn't crowned champion but certainly added some grass court experience to her repertoire.

    Don't be surprised if you see the current 11th-ranked player making a deep run into the tournament at Wimbledon next week.