June 28, 2019 / 6:25 PM / 20 days ago

Eight women to watch at Wimbledon

(Reuters) - A look at the top women’s contenders at Wimbledon 2019 (prefix denotes seeding):

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - WTA Premier - Nature Valley Classic - Edgbaston Priory Club, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Britain - June 22, 2019 Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action during her semi final match against Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine/File Photo

1-ASH BARTY (Australia)

The diminutive Australian arrives at Wimbledon fresh off her maiden Grand Slam triumph at the French Open and having replaced Naomi Osaka at the top of the world rankings.

Barty walked away from tennis to play cricket in her native Queensland a few years ago but has barely missed a beat since returning in 2016, winning plaudits and titles with her indomitable spirit, precision serve and devastating forehand.

She is the first Australian to top the women’s rankings since Evonne Goolagong Cawley 43 years ago, but her chances at Wimbledon depend on how she recovers from the arm injury that forced her out of the Eastbourne warm-up earlier this week.

2-NAOMI OSAKA (Japan)

Not much has gone right for Osaka since she parted company with coach Sascha Bajin a month after she clinched the Australian Open.

Injuries and poor form have prevented the Japanese from reaching another final in the eight tournaments she has played since her Melbourne triumph and she relinquished her grip on the number one ranking after an early exit in Birmingham.

Despite her struggles, Osaka is still among the favorites at the All England Club this year due to her ability to bring out her best tennis on the game’s grandest stages.

3-KAROLINA PLISKOVA (Czech Republic)

Pliskova’s immense potential has not yet translated into success on the biggest stage but her big serve and blistering forehand keep her among the top contenders on grass.

At 27, she is at the peak of her powers but needs to show more consistency in the second week if she is to progress beyond the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time.

5-ANGELIQUE KERBER (Germany)

Holder Kerber will hope that a return to the scene of her latest Grand Slam triumph can revive her form and world ranking which has dipped due to illness and injuries in the last year.

A shock first round exit at Roland Garros was put down to an ankle injury but she has since gathered steam with a semi-final run at Mallorca.

6-PETRA KVITOVA (Czech Republic)

Kvitova thrives on the Wimbledon lawns, having won the title in 2011 and 2014, and has the weapons to beat any of the top-ranked players on her day.

The left-hander’s career was interrupted by a knife attack in December 2016 but she is back to her best, finishing runner-up at the Australian Open and winning titles in Sydney and Stuttgart.

The Czech was hampered by a left calf injury during the claycourt tournament in Rome and also pulled out of the French Open with a forearm problem.

7-SIMONA HALEP (Romania)

Halep started the season on top of the world rankings but a trophy-less 2019 has seen her plummet to seventh — her lowest ranking since April 2016.

The 27-year-old claycourt specialist is a counter-puncher who prefers to stay behind the baseline and use her shot selection and court coverage to grind down opponents.

Grass is far from the Romanian’s favorite surface, however, and reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2014 is still her best result at the All England Club.

11-SERENA WILLIAMS (United States)

Williams’ hunt for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam following maternity leave has twice ended in heartbreak but the American is still a force to be reckoned with at Wimbledon, where she will look to improve on last year’s runner-up finish.

The seven-times winner has not enjoyed the best preparation in a season hampered by a knee injury and comes into the tournament after a third-round exit at the French Open.

25-AMANDA ANISIMOVA (United States)

Slideshow (7 Images)

Born to Russian parents and trained in Florida, teenager Anisimova has plenty in common with former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova.

Anisimova became the first player born in this millennium to reach a Grand Slam semi-final with her run at Roland Garros and will hope to carry that momentum into Wimbledon.

Sharapova announced herself by winning the Wimbledon title at the age of 17, and although Anisimova who turns 18 in August still has a lot to prove, her raw potential makes her one of the most exciting prospects on the tour.

Compiled by Rohith Nair and Hardik Vyas; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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