In any given year, a reigning women’s world no 1 on a six-title and 35-match winning streak will be the hot favourite to win Wimbledon.
And even though on paper Iga Swiatek is expected to add to the French Open title she won early in June, the women’s draw remains too open to call a winner.
Grass is not the 21-year-old Pole’s strongest surface - where she has a 7-5 record. Her best showing at a grasscourt event was her fourth-round finish at SW19 last year.
Her only title on the living surface, across junior and senior levels, co-incidentally came at Wimbledon in 2018 when she won her only Junior Grand Slam title.
“My coach believes I can win more matches on grass. I don’t know about that yet. Honestly, grass is always tricky. I actually like the part that I have no expectations there. It’s something kind of refreshing,” Swiatek said after her French Open win.
Even though Swiatek has no expectations at Wimbledon, she is many a tennis pundit’s odd-on favourite to win a first Wimbledon title by virtue of being the in-form player currently on the WTA tour.
Since a second-round defeat at Dubai on February 14, Swiatek has won 35 matches and dropped only six out of 70 sets.
She has equalled Venus Williams’ 35-match winning run, which was a 21st century record, and also bettered Serena Williams 34-match run.
Come title matches, Swiatek has looked simply unbeatable, never showing glimpses of losing control of the match. In her six title-winning finals in 2022, Swiatek has outclassed players of quality - beating current World No 3 Anett Kontaveit (Doha), now World No 5 Maria Sakkari (Indian Wells), four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka (Miami), World No 6 Aryna Sabalenka (Stuttgart), World No 2 Ons Jabeur (Rome), and teenage sensation and World No 12 Coco Guaff in the French Open final.
Swiatek’s half is stacked with former Wimbledon champions as well as grasscourt specialists in seven-time winner Serena Williams, 2019 winner Simona Halep, 2017 winner Garbine Muguruza, two-time winner Petra Kvitova as well as last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova. However, she is not expected to meet any of them until the second week - Muguruza in the quarterfinals.
The Pole opted to rest after her Roland Garros win and is yet to be tested on grass this season. Despite an indifferent grasscourt record, Swiatek has laid down the gauntlet for challengers to her World No 1 throne.
“Right now I can find solutions and use different skills to sometimes come back and have an advantage over my opponent. That’s the thing that I’m most proud of, because I was working really hard on that. Last year I felt like I didn’t have many choices. This year it has changed,” she said.
On paper, Swiatek looks favourite to add to her two French Opens in two weeks’ time.
After creating history this year by becoming the first Arab player to win a WTA title, Tunisian Ons Jabeur comes into Wimbledon as one of the main contenders for the Venus Rosewater dish.
A historic win at the Madrid WTA 1000 event in May was followed by a disappointing first-round exit at Roland Garros.
The 27-year-old, however, played down her exit and began the grasscourt swing with her second WTA title, winning the Berlin Open.
Jabeur teamed up with Serena Williams to play doubles at Eastbourne and the pair won their first-round match before a knee injury forced Jabeur to pull out from the event.
The seriousness of the knee injury notwithstanding, Jabeur, who is ranked second in the world, faces a tricky route to the final.
If she manages to get past Kaia Kanepi in the third round, Jabeur will face 2018 winner Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, followed by a quarterfinal meeting against Danielle Collins or Emma Raducanu.
Fourth seed Paula Badosa, who has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon, sees herself in a quarter littered with former champions and grasscourt veterans and faces a tough challenge to better her best record.
And then there is a certain Serena Williams, whose challenge can never be ignored. The 23-time Grand Slam champion had a tearful first-round exit at Wimbledon last year after she slipped and suffered an ankle injury, and was forced to retire from the match.
She hasn’t played a singles match since then, but she’s not somebody who can be written off quite easily.
However, she faces a difficult road to Grand Slam No 24, potentially facing 2021 runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the third round before facing French Open runner-up Coco Gauff in the fourth round.
“I didn’t retire. I just needed to heal physically, mentally. I had no plans. I just didn’t know when I would come back. I didn’t know how I would come back,” said the 40-year-old on Saturday.
Third-ranked Anett Kontaveit is on 3-5 losing streak since her Qatar final loss to Swiatek and is yet to play on grass this season following her first-round exit at the French Open.
Out in the second round at Roland Garros, Sakkari comes into Wimbledon having reached the quarterfinal at Nottingham and the semi-final at Berlin before a shock second round loss at Eastbourne.
Neither player has made it past the third round at Wimbledon.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is one of the dark horses in the running, on the back of her victory at Eastbourne.
But 23th seed Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia is the in-form player in the grasscourt swing, having won titles at Nottingham and Birmingham and reaching the semifinal at Eastbourne.
Meanwhile, US Open winner Emma Raducanu leads British hopes of a first women’s champion since Virginia Wade in 1977, but the 19-year-old is still struggling with a side strain.
There are several names that could come out and win on a surface not many have been comfortable on. In the mix is an in-form World No 1, on top of her game and only getting better. But there’s also a 23-time Grand Slam champion, just one title away from equalling a world record. And a great number of challengers who can cause a stir on any given day. It’s truly an open draw.