There is always a ‘buzz’ in the build-up to Wimbledon, but this year there seems to be an extra level of excitement about the women’s draw.
From returning champions looking to retain or reclaim titles, to rising stars with ambitions of gate-crashing the SW19 ‘party’ – usually reserved for the established elite – Wimbledon 2023 could well be a classic for the ages.
Here, we take a look at our Wimbledon 2023 ‘women-to-watch’:
Iga Swiatek – Top Seed
The Polish world number one won the latest of her three French Open Grand Slams last month, so will enter Wimbledon 2023 in great form. However, that said it is exactly the same position she found herself in 12 months ago before making a third-round exit.
Victory at the 2022 US Open and reaching the semi-finals in Australia proves she has significant variety to her game, but grass has to date been a challenge too far. Iga will begin her latest Wimbledon campaign against Chinese player Lin Zhu.
Aryna Sabalenka – Aiming To Make Up For Lost Time
The Belarusian was forced to miss Wimbledon 2022 due to the ban on players from her nation as well as Russia, but the following months saw her reach the US Open semi-final for the first time. She followed that up with a maiden Grand Slam – at the Australian Open earlier this year – and after reaching the last four in Paris, as well as in the UK the last time she played at Wimbledon in 2021 – Aryna will be expected to progress far in this event.
The second seed will face Hungarian Panna Udvardy in round one.
Ons Jabeur – Will She Make History?
The World number six, from Tunisia, has spoken openly about aiming to become the first African and Arab woman to win a Grand Slam title. Ona has unfortunately been forced to repeatedly answer questions about this ambition as her dream is yet to be fulfilled, despite reaching the final of Wimbledon and the US Open last year. Now 28, she is entering her peak years although seeded sixth, she no-one would be surprised if she went all-the-way at Wimbledon 2023.
Her first-round match will see her face Poland’s Magdalena Frech.
Coco Gauff – Turning Talent Into Trophies
Four-years-ago the then 15-year-old American became the youngest player in the Open era to qualify for the Wimbledon main draw and went on to reach the fourth round. Now in her last year as a teenager is still regarded as one of the most exciting talents on the tour, but she is yet to claim a Grand Slam or look like a regular contender. Reaching the final at Roland Garros last year proved Coco has the potential to live-up to the hype which has surrounded her for much of her career, but is yet to go beyond the quarter-final stage of any other Grand Slam.
The seventh-seed will face 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the opening round.
Venus Williams – Rolling Back The Years
Wimbledon has featured at least one of the Williams sisters since 1997 and 26 years on the crowds visiting SW19 will be lucky enough to see five-time winner Venus returning once more.
As a former champion the American is entitled to a wildcard and after missing last year’s edition through injury the 43-year-old has returned for her 24th main draw campaign. The last of her successes in England came back in 2008, so few would realistically expect the now world number 557 to realistically challenge for the crown again, however her presence demands attention and respect. She can still deliver surprises and will open her campaign against former Wimbledon semi-finalists Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who became a mother for the first-time last year.
British Women To Watch:
With former US Open champion Emma Raducanu missing the event as she continues her rehabilitation following ankle and wrist surgeries, the Britain will be represented by five other women in the opening round.
Heather Watson is undoubtedly the best-known of the British women in the main draw having played at each edition of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships since 2010. Many forget though that she is a former winner, having claimed the mixed doubles title in 2016 with Henri Kontinen. Although now 31, Heather achieved a best-ever run to the fourth-round last year in the women’s singles and will be looking to make her mark again.
Katie Swan is now 24 and looking to make a major event breakthrough. She reached the second round at Wimbledon back in 2018 and will head into this event off the back of an encouraging result after reaching the final at the Surbiton Trophy last month.
Katie Boulter is the current British number one and has reached the main draws in each of the four Grand Slams. Her best run at Wimbledon came last year, when she reached the third round, and repeat of that would be seen as a significant achievement for the 26-year-old.
Jodie Burrage is the second-highest ranked British woman in the main draw and will be seeking her first win at Wimbledon after five previous defeats across singles and doubles. She lost to Boulter in the final at the Nottingham Open last month, but that run to a WTA final – on grass – will have given her a major confidence boost for Wimbledon.
Harriet Dart also made a strong impression in Nottingham by reaching the semi-finals, while she also reached round three at Wimbledon in 2019.