1. Angelique Kerber (GER)
A finalist last year, but has spent most of 2017 in the sub-zero. This would be as good a time as any to own that top seed. Draw did her no favors as Safarova looms.
2. Simona Halep (ROU)
Eyes will be on Halep to see how she copes with a deeply disappointing French Open. For six rounds in Paris she looked like the player most likely to fill the WTA vacuum. Then, a few games from her first major, she blinked. Big opportunity for redemption.
3. Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
The favorite with the punters (and, presumably the kickers) and why not? She’s become a steady week-two-at-a-major player and her game is well-suited to grass. We like another Czech seed, with more of a track record. (Pliskova has never been beyond round two!) But it would not be surprising if she emerged with the trophy.
4. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
A career high ranking and seeding. And the breakthrough ought to be a matter of when and not if. But not unlike Halep—who, ironically was the culprit as well—Svitolina is coming off a confidence-maiming French Open.
5. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
You worry about the lower back issue and you worry about her lower power grade. She has never been beyond round four at Wimbledon. But she can bring her veteran perspective to bear.
6. Johanna Konta (GBR)
All credit to Konta for her upward mobility. And her game ought to translate well to grass, this despite her winning a grand total of one match for her career at the AELTC. At some level her success will reduce to how well she deals with the pressure of being a homegrown player currently third with the oddsmakers. Withdrew from Eastbourne with a thoracic spine injury.
7. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
A terminally underrated player who could easily steal her third major. At age 32, she can still play with anyone. Her erratic swings are lessening. She is still athletic but now relies on accumulated experience as well.
8. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
A giant-killer who punches above her height and embraces competition. A terrific pre-wedding Wimbledon last year included a run to the quarters. But that also means many points to defend. Starts out vs. Andrea Petkovic.
9. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
A former finalist but that was a half-decade ago. The absence of power is one thing. The absence of self-belief is quite another.
10. Venus Williams (USA)
Always a contender on the grass, which rewards her movement, her serve and seldom keeps her on the court for long. Age 37 is not a concern. The possible distraction from the TMZ report is worth considering.
11. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Well this has escalated quickly, hasn’t it. At the French Open, Kvitova’s return was a feel good story. After she won Birmingham, you now have the view Kvitova, a two-time winner, as a short-list favorite.
12. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
Game ought to play on grass, where her athleticism can shine.
13. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
It’s like her ranking underwent gastric bypass. Barely in the top 50 a month ago, Ostapenko is now closing in on the top ten. A first round loser in 2016—but junior champ in 2014—she comes in as the subject of much curiosity.
14. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
A terrific player who, lamentably, has flipped the script lately. A finalist in 2015, she is now out of the top ten and comes in on the heels of a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Strycova at Eastbourne.
15. Elena Vesnina (RUS)
Credit her for getting to this point—and reaching the semis in 2016.
16. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Settled into a role as a solid player, capable of reaching quarterfinals, but not a threat to win the biggest titles.
17. Madison Keys (USA)
A full health she’d be a contender. But the wrist remains a concern.
20. Daria Gavrilova (AUS)
Like countryman Kyrgios, she’s 20. Like countryman Kyrgios, the range of outcome here is a vast.
23. Kiki Bertens (NED)
Nice to see Bertens back playing top tennis. Like many players from the Low Country, her skills are considerable.
24. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA)
The serve, the athleticism alone, and with Pat Cash, the 1987 champ, in the mix and in the box, and CoCo becomes still more intriguing. No reason she can’t make a deep run.
26. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)
Semifinalist in Australia in 2017. Semifinalist at Wimbledon in….1999.
27. Ana Konjuh (CRO)
Former junior queen should have reached week two last year before this.
31. Roberta Vinci (ITA)
One last hurrah for a player capable of serve-and-volley, grass-happy tennis.
32. Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Woe to the seed who has to face her in round three.
Dark horse nation
Victoria Azarenka: Maternity leave is over.
Kristyna Pliskova: Big lefty server is the epitome of dangerous floater.
Ash Barty: The best story in tennis this side of Kvitova. A year ago she was playing cricket; now she’s on the fringe of the top 50. (With a game that translates well to grass.)
Donna Vekic: Won a grasscourt title in Nottingham and shows signs of playing to her potential.
CiCi Bellis: Already won a lot of matches on a lot of surfaces. And she turned 18 in April.
Alison Riske: Always dangerous, especially on grass.
Genie Bouchard: All former finalists get recognized, no matter how steep their descent.
Jelena Jankovic: All former No.1’s get recognized, no matter how steep their descent
Alize Cornet: All players who have beaten Serena Williams at Wimbledon merit mention.
First round matches to watch
Riske vs. Sloane Stephens: Nice to see Stephens return but that’s no welcome back gift.
Safarova vs. Oceane Dodin: 2014 semifinalist vs. 20-year-old Frenchwoman.
Cibulkova vs. Petkovic: Petkovic leads head-to-head 4-1.
Konjuh vs. Sabine Lisicki: Up-and-comer gets a former finalist.
Barty vs. Svitolina: Barty is coming off a runner-up finish in Birmingham.
Azarenka v. Bellis: In her first Slam as a mom, Azarenka gets the youngest kid in the draw.
Barty d. Svitolina
Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek Sands: Going for a calendar Slam.
Ka. Pliskova d. resurgent Angie Kerber
Kvitova d. Ostapenko (once bitten….)
Kvitova d. Ka. Pliskova