Wimbledon: Former World No. 1 Serena Williams will begin her Wimbledon comeback by facing Harmony Tan. The latter is a 24-year-old from France who is ranked 113th in the World. Tan has a 2-6 career win-loss record in Grand Slam matches. The placement of Serena Williams in the women’s bracket was the most anticipated aspect of Friday’s draw at the All England Club. She is making her first appearance in singles at any tournament since she hurt her right leg and stopped playing during the first set of her first-round match at Centre Court a year ago.
Because of her lack of activity over the past 12 months, Serena is outside the WTA’s top 1,200 this week and so could have ended up anywhere in the field and against any opponent in the first round. She only returned to the tour this week by playing two doubles matches at a tune-up event in England.
The 40-year-old American’s track record would definitely merit a seeding. However, the All England Club now adheres strictly to the rankings in determining how it seeds players.
Serena has won seven Wimbledon championships, part of her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, a record for the professional era. Tan, meanwhile, will be making her debut at the grass-court tournament.
If Serena gets past Tan, next up could be a match against Sara Sorribes Tormo, who is seeded 32nd. However, she has never been past the second round at the All England Club or the third round at any major in 19 past appearances.
The third round potentially would put Serena against a tougher test: No. six-seeded Karolina Pliskova, who was the runner-up to Ash Barty last year at Wimbledon. She also reached the final of the 2016 US Open – beating Serena in the semifinals there.
Barty retired at age 25 in March and so is not defending her title when play begins Monday. That also leaves open the question of which woman will have the honour of playing the first match Tuesday on Centre Court, a slot traditionally reserved for the prior year’s champion.
The two most likely choices would seem to be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who enters on a 35-match winning streak and is coming off a title at the French Open, or Simona Halep, who won the 2019 trophy at Wimbledon, beating Serena in the final, but did not get the chance to begin things at Centre Court in 2020, when the tournament was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, or in 2021, because she was injured and unable to play.