General view of the Wimbledon trophies
General view of the Wimbledon trophies | (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Tennis | Wimbledon 2024 | Players reveal reasons behind the unpredictability of women’s draw

By Tony Fairbairn at Wimbledon

  • There have been seven different winners in the past seven years of the women’s singles draw as unpredictability provides opportunity
  • Players such as Iga Swiatek, Marketa Vondrousova, Maria Sakkari and Madison Keys have their say as another new name could be added to the list this year
LONDON, ENGLAND – The women’s singles draw continues to provide opportunity as top players have their say as to why Wimbledon is so unpredictable when it comes to the women’s draw.

 

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Predicting the winner of the women’s singles draw at Wimbledon is becoming harder than predicting this week’s lottery numbers in recent times.

That’s because there have been seven different winners in seven different years as the days of dominance by Billie Jean King, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams is a thing of the past.

The last player to successfully defend the title at Wimbledon was Williams in 2016 and since then Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Ash Barty, Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova have all claimed the Venus Rosewater Dish.

A new name is likely to be added this year with Vondrousova failing to defend her title with a first round loss to Jessica Bouzas Maniero although Rybakina has a good chance of reclaiming her title this year.

Unpredictability has also put pressure on big players to perform as Ons Jabeur has crumbled under pressure in two consecutive finals and once again has exited this year with Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff following the Tunisian out the tournament.

Before some of the world’s biggest names outline some potential reasons for why the women’s draw is so unpredictable, let’s hear from the defending champion as to why the women’s draw provides so many different winners each year.

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“I think the draw is really open in women’s draw, for sure. I think we can expect many surprises, also like on the grass courts. I feel like you never know what’s going to happen there,” Vondrousova said before the tournament.

“I feel like I didn’t really think of winning the tournament even like, I don’t know, before semifinals. I just, like, took it match by match. I wasn’t thinking at all about winning it. I think my first thought of winning the tournament was when I broke Ons in the second set for 5-4 and I was serving for the match.

“I feel like women’s tennis and women’s draw is really open these days and matches are really tough, even from the first round. I think we can expect tough matches from the first matches.”

 

 

Strong depth of the women’s game

The most obvious reason as to why there are so may winners of the women’s singles titles is that the depth of the women’s game is so strong.

There have been many different winners that have come from nowhere even going back to the time Marion Bartoli won the title.

Even outside of Wimbledon and who wins the trophy there are so many unique stories of players going deep and that has been obvious this year with qualifier Lulu Sun reaching the quarter-finals.

As Madison Keys outlined the depth in the women’s game is strong and makes it more difficult to win Grand Slams as opposed to the men’s game where that is clearly not the case.

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“I think it really just kind of shows I think the depth of women’s tennis. I think especially here it just feels like anyone could win at any moment,” Keys outlined.

“I think it’s a few points here or there, and that’s really kind of the entire championship. I think there’s definitely a lot of opportunity. You just kind of have to try to keep your head down and get through round and round and really just focus on what’s in front of you.

“I think if you’re able to do that, then all of a sudden you look up, and you can be in the second week, and you can really be contending for the title.”

Adding to that point Maria Sakkari stated that it’s got to a point where up to 25 people in the draw could win Wimbledon and one bad day could cost someone the tournament.

“Well, you know, it’s obviously from my side a good thing because I feel like, as you said, it’s wide open, so anyone can win,” Sakkari claimed.

“A Grand Slam, going into the tournament I think that we could name like 20, 25 girls that could win the tournament right now. I think the depth of women’s tennis is just very good right now, and everyone is playing good. You cannot just go on court the first three matches and be relaxed. You have to be ready from that first round.

“I just feel like you have to respect every opponent because every tournament has surprises, and you just have to be ready for them. The more clear you are in your head on what you have to do, the better it’s going to be for your result in the Grand Slam.

“There’s not a top player that cannot play on grass, I feel. Obviously we’ve heard that the grass has changed in the last few years. It’s most of the times slower, but obviously, it really helps when you can serve well and return well. But, you know, if you have a bad day, you know can you have a bad loss or you can have a surprise for sure.”

Meanwhile, former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu concluded the point by stating that the variety is ‘beautiful to see.’

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“Interesting. It’s beautiful to see, honestly,” Andreescu admitted.

“That’s women’s tennis. And I think it’s great to have different winners because it gives you, I guess, a variety. That’s always nice to see for sure.”

 

Adaptation key to success as more mistakes likely on grass

The second argument is because of the low-bouncing ball, it’s harder to implement an aggressive yet consistent style of play.

This contributes to more shocks as the grass court season is short therefore a lack of practice means players have little time to get used to conditions.

Speaking before the tournament, world number one Swiatek spoke about the need to adapt on grass and explained why players make more mistakes on this surface.

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“I feel like it’s a really tricky tournament. It’s not like you can kind of build up your shape and then, I don’t know, peak at Wimbledon. There aren’t so many tournaments on grass. Sometimes this tournament looks a little bit different,” Swiatek explained.

“Players that are also sometimes underdogs can win it, I feel. The chance is bigger. On the other hand sometimes it was a similar case on clay, as well. It’s hard to say. I don’t know. I think you really have to approach this tournament little bit differently mentally because usually players on women’s side, I guess they are making little bit more mistakes than on other surfaces because the ball is low and it’s pretty fast and it’s tricky.

“I guess it comes down more to the mental side, I would say, how you’re going to be able to adjust to this surface. The player that does it better is going to win.”

Roland Garros runner-up Jasmine Paolini added to Swiatek’s ball and said the margins small when it comes to grass court tennis.

“I think it’s not easy to keep winning matches because every match can, I don’t know, turn in few points. So it’s not easy to, you know, I think to win more Wimbledon for people,” Paolini revealed.

“But on this surface I think it’s difficult to win more titles because for few balls you can lose the match. I think that’s the feeling I have here.”

 

Opportunity brings excitement

Whatever the reasons are for the women’s tournament being so unpredictable at Wimbledon, it certainly brings a new level of excitement and optimism at the opportunity to achieve a historic run.

That’s the impression Jessica Pegula gets as the American spoke about how excitement raises everyone’s level at SW19.

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“I think it just goes to show you that anything can happen. There’s a lot of depth. Yeah, it’s interesting. I think a lot of girls get excited a little bit at that fact. You have a chance if you can play well here these two weeks. I think it makes us all a little bit more excited,” Pegula claimed.

“I mean, it’s exciting. I mean, again, grass is tricky. I feel like when you have a feel for it, sometimes you’re moving well, you’re reading it well, maybe you’re mixing in a lot of the shots well. Whenever I see someone on a run, it’s because I think they embrace the challenge of grass, maybe are a little patient. It’s just a different surface, where it’s not as straightforward.

“I think when you see players coming through that are reading things well, that are serving really well, that are really good at the net, maybe more crafty players, that’s where it pays off a little bit more these two weeks than any other kind of slam. I think that’s when you see players kind of break through.

“Optimism-wise, I’m very optimistic that hopefully I can do well. I know a lot of other girls, too. I think every year is different for players with grass. Some players don’t like it. Some years they fall in love with it because they do well. I think it’s kind of a mental thing a little bit, too.”

Doubles partner Gauff shared a similar sentiment as the American admitted it breeds confidence into you when you see how many different winners there have been of one tournament.

“I think for me it just shows there’s a lot of talent on the women’s tour and it’s anybody’s game,” Gauff said.

“My outlook, I mean, it gives you confidence obviously when you see that the field isn’t stacked. I guess stacked in the way where there’s one player dominating or three players dominating. I think everybody has an equal shot and it’s just about who can perform better that week.”

 

 

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