Despite being ranked fourth in the world, Paula Badosa came into her quarter-final showdown with the red-hot Coco Gauff as the underdog, but she played like a favourite en route to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 victory.

Usually one of her stronger weapons, Gauff's serve was a liability on Friday, with six double faults in the first set alone to drop the opening frame despite breaking Badosa twice.

In the second set, while Badosa was converting 92 per cent (11-of-12) of her accurate first serves into points, Gauff's figure was down at 53 per cent (eight-of-15) as the Spaniard's return game was at its best.

Badosa will meet seventh seed Daria Kasatkina in the semi-final after the Russian beat Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka 4-6 7-5 6-0. The longer the match went, the less effective Sabalenka became with her ability to return serve.

In the first set, which Sabalenka won, she was successful in 53 per cent (19-of-36) of the points against Kasatkina's serve, and that number plummeted to 14 per cent (two-of-14) in the decider.

Third seed and Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur was eliminated by ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 (7-5) 6-2, and she will meet unseeded American Shelby Rogers in the second semi-final after she defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-4.

Meanwhile, in Washington at the Citi Open, Emma Raducanu felt the effects of her gruelling match 24 hours prior as she went down 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 to Liudmila Samsonova.

On Thursday, Raducanu played in the longest two-set match of the WTA season as she eventually made her way through two tiebreakers against Camila Osorio in two hours and 49 minutes, and she ran out of steam after another tough tie-break against Samsonova.

Samsonova will play China's Xiyu Wang in the semi-final after another upset, knocking out fourth seed Victoria Azarenka in convincing fashion 6-1 6-3.

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi booked her place in the second semi-final after a 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-3 win against Anna Kalinskaya, where she will meet Daria Saville after the Australian got the better of Canada's Rebecca Marino 6-1 7-5. 

Second and third seeds Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur eased into the Silicon Valley Classic quarter-finals on Wednesday, while Simona Halep and Jessica Pegula were bundled out of the Citi Open.

Last month's Wimbledon finalist Jabeur proved too good for American Madison Keys 7-5 6-1, winning in one hour and 22 minutes.

Jabeur, playing for the first time since Wimbledon, converted six of nine break points for the match, dominating the second set where she won 90.9 per cent first serve points.

Second seed Badosa survived a scare to win over qualifier Elizabeth Mandlik 6-2 5-7 7-6 (7-5) in two hours and 31 minutes.

Eighth seed Karolina Pliskova was knocked out by American Amanda Anisimova 3-6 7-5 6-1, while last year's runner-up Daria Kasatkina beat Taylor Townsend 6-4 6-0.

Two-time major winner Halep was forced to retire due to illness and top seed Jessica Pegula was bundled out by Daria Saville at the Citi Open.

In warm conditions, the 30-year-old Romanian battled throughout the match but eventually retired down 7-5 2-0 to Anna Kalinskaya after one hour and six minutes.

Halep had fought back from a 4-0 deficit in the first set to square it up at 5-5, before losing the first set.

However, the former world number one succumbed to illness early in the second set, handing Kalinskaya her passage into the quarter-finals.

On a dramatic day for the Citi Open favourites, world number seven Pegula was eliminated by Saville in straight sets in one hour and 38 minutes, 7-5 6-4.

Pegula was not helped by a first-serve percentage of 44.8 per cent, while she struggled to convert break points, with the Australian saving nine of 10 for the match.

Saville's win means she is 3-3 against top 20 opponents this year, progressing into the last eight where she will face Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino.

Marino, who beat Venus Williams in her return to singles in the first round on Monday, knocked off Germany's Andrea Petkovic 6-3 3-6 6-1.

Estonian sixth seed Kaia Kanepi progressed into the quarters where she will face Kalinskaya after beating China's Zhu Lin 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Ons Jabeur said she was simply "not ready" to win a grand slam after losing in three sets to Elena Rybakina in the Wimbledon final.

The Tunisian world number two won the first set of Sunday's title match but then faded and slid to a 3-6 6-2 6-2 defeat.

Russian-born Rybakina, who switched nationality to Kazakh four years ago after being offered financial incentives to do so, was able to celebrate a surprise maiden slam title.

Jabeur was disappointed after the loss and told reporters in a news conference: "I couldn't do more, I really tried deep inside everything that I can.

"I did everything since the beginning of the year to really focus on this tournament, I even have the trophy picture on my phone.

"It wasn't meant to be. I cannot force things. I'm not ready for it probably, to be a grand slam champion."

The 27-year-old was optimistic of her chances of eventually making a breakthrough at the highest level, and perhaps a chance will come at the US Open in September.

She said: "I cannot wait to look forward to the next one.

"If I have another final I will learn more from it. I cannot wait to really improve a lot of things in my game.

"I want to [continue to] be a top-five player, I want to win more titles, I want to win a grand slam."

Elena Rybakina produced a breathtaking comeback to win the Wimbledon title as Ons Jabeur fell short in the women's final – a Russian native triumphing in the name of Kazakhstan.

Rybakina, who was born, raised and learned her tennis trade in Moscow, switched to represent Kazakhstan in 2018 after being offered an appealing financial package.

Russians were banned, along with their Belarusian colleagues, from playing at Wimbledon this year by the All England Club, owing to the Kremlin-led invasion of Ukraine.

The decision has cost Wimbledon, and Britain's Lawn Tennis Association, fines totalling $1million, albeit those are being appealed.

And still, somehow, a player with tight Russian ties has prevailed, handed the trophy on Centre Court by the Duchess of Cambridge. This was not, it seems safe to say, the ideal scenario for Wimbledon's blazer brigade.

Yet in Rybakina the tournament has an exciting young champion, and given she turned her back on playing for Russia to represent Kazakhstan, it is hardly a victory that Vladimir Putin can hold up as a great triumph for his country on the global sporting stage.

All the same, some of the power-brokers in SW19 might have been quietly hoping that Jabeur would see this through, the world number two delivering trophy success that would have been celebrated across Africa and the Arab world.

The crowd appeared to be pulling for Jabeur too, after the 27-year-old made herself a favourite thanks to her entertaining, enterprising brand of tennis, matched to a thoroughly charming personality.

The Tunisian, playing the biggest match of her life as the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha got under way, looked like her day in the sun had arrived when on a sizzling London day she took the first set without any particular fuss.

A pre-tournament sally by the seaside with Serena Williams served Jabeur well, their doubles liaison in Eastbourne emboldening the world number two for this fortnight, and yet come crunch point in the final, it all went over the cliff.

There was a skip of satisfaction when Jabeur broke early in that first set, and with the six-foot Rybakina spraying her powerful ground shots often out of court it looked to be a match that could only go one way. There were sizzling winners from Rybakina but too many unforced errors, with 17 in the first set alone.

Perhaps it was the scale of what she was halfway to achieving, but Jabeur's focus then slipped. An ill-advised 'tweener', the between-the-legs party piece favoured by Nick Kyrgios, found the net and pointed to incoming trouble.

Rybakina swept to a 5-1 lead in the second set. Jabeur, known as the "minister of happiness" in Tunisia, soon looked pretty glum as Rybakina levelled the match with an ace on set point.

The winners-to-errors ratio had swung around dramatically from the first set, and when Rybakina sprinted ahead in the decider with an immediate break, dominating the battles of craft as well as the full-power rallies, Jabeur was in the doldrums.

The usually mild-mannered Jabeur lashed out when she was outsmarted at the net by Rybakina, lucky not to make full contact as she swished out at the ball in frustration.

Leading 3-2 and approaching the finish line, Rybakina slipped 0-40 down, as some of Jabeur's great touch returned with drop-shot and lob winners. That could have been a turning point, but Rybakina fended off the danger in terrific style, finishing off the game with a simple volley at the net.

Victory came from the first match point, Jabeur hacking a backhand wide. Rybakina raised her left wrist to her mouth, puffed out her cheeks and jogged up to the net to greet Jabeur, before waving to all corners of Centre Court.

The world number 23, whose age matches her ranking, becomes the second-lowest ranked women's singles champion at Wimbledon since the Open Era began in 1968. Only Venus Williams in 2007, when ranked 31st, triumphed from a lower rung on the ladder.

It was 3-6 6-2 6-2 in the end, and Rybakina became the first women's singles champion since Amelie Mauresmo in 2006 to come back from losing the first set to carry off the Venus Rosewater Dish.

She passed 50 aces in a WTA-level tournament for the first time in the process, with four in this match taking her Wimbledon 2022 total to 53, and becomes the youngest women's champion in these parts since 2011, when a 21-year-old Petra Kvitova saw off Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova was champion for Russia as a 17-year-old in 2004. This, though, was for Kazakhstan, Rybakina effusively thanking the wealthy federation president Bulat Utemuratov who watched on proudly.

As Wimbledon hung on every word, he was emphatically the right president to acknowledge.

Ons Jabeur is hopeful that she will have another shot at winning a maiden grand slam title after losing to Elena Rybakina in three sets in Saturday's Wimbledon final.

The third seed let slip a one-set lead to lose 3-6 6-2 6-2 to Rybakina in a Centre Court clash between two females contesting their first major finals.

World number two Jabeur had won all 11 matches played on grass in 2022 heading into the final, including six wins en route to the Championship match at the All England Club.

But the Tunisian struggled to build on a bright start, winning just two of her 12 break points and finishing with 17 winners to 29 for Rybakina, who she felt was a deserving winner.

"I want to congratulate Elena and her team – it was a great job and she deserved this and hopefully next time it will be mine," Jabeur said in her on-court interview.

"I wouldn't do this without my team there. They always pushed me to do more so thank you for your support and believing me."

 

Saturday's contest was the first time in the past 15 such occasions, since 2006, that a player has lost the first set and gone on to win the Wimbledon women's singles final.

While she may have fallen just short of becoming the first Arab and African female to win a grand slam, Jabeur hopes she has inspired children back home.

"Elena stole my title but it's okay," she joked. "I love this tournament so much and I feel really sad, but I'm trying to inspire many generations from my country. 

"I hope they are listening. I also want to thank his beautiful crowd for all their support over the two weeks. It's been amazing. I want to wish Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating."

Surprise champion Elena Rybakina doubted she would make the second week at Wimbledon, never mind win the title.

After a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory over hot favourite Ons Jabeur, Rybakina spoke of her pride at becoming the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a grand slam singles title.

She is Russian-born and raised, switching nationality four years ago after receiving financial incentives to do that, so in a year when players representing Russia were banned from Wimbledon, her triumph has perhaps come at an inopportune moment for tournament chiefs.

Rybakina was concerned purely with sporting success rather than politics and war on a day when she picked apart Jabeur's game so impressively in the second and third sets.

She became the first women's singles champion to come back and win after dropping the opening set of a Wimbledon final since Amelie Mauresmo did so against Justine Henin in 2006.

"I'm speechless because I was super nervous before the match, during the match, and I'm honestly happy it's finished," said Rybakina.

"Really, I've never felt something like this. I just want to say big thanks to the crowd for their support, it was unbelievable all these two weeks.

"I didn't expect to be in the second week at Wimbledon and to be a winner is just amazing."

Rybakina, whose world ranking of 23 matches her age, hailed third seed Jabeur, who had been bidding to become Africa's first women's singles champion in a grand slam.

"I want to thank Ons for the great match and everything you achieved," Rybakina said. "You are inspirational, not just for the young juniors but for everybody. You have an amazing game and I don't think we have someone [else] like this on tour. It's just a joy to play against you."

Rybakina was presented with the trophy by the Duchess of Cambridge, and she savoured playing in front of British royalty.

It has been widely perceived that a factor behind the ban on Russians and Belarusians this year was that the optics of royalty handing over the trophy to a player from either country would not be ideal, given the Kremlin-led ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Duchess spoke warmly to Rybakina as she presented the trophy, and the newest grand slam winner on the women's tour had a message for the royals, too.

"Thank you for the Royal Box," she said. "I'm playing first time [in front of royalty] and it's an honour to be here in front of you. Thank you so much. It's just an unbelievable atmosphere, thank you."

Elena Rybakina recovered from behind to beat Ons Jabeur in three sets in Saturday's Wimbledon women's singles final and claim her first grand slam title.

In a groundbreaking contest on Centre Court between two females contesting their maiden major finals – an Open Era first – it was number 17 seed Rybakina who held her nerve.

She prevailed 3-6 6-2 6-2 in two hours and 52 minutes against the in-form Jabeur, who had won 11 matches in a row, to win just her third career title – and a first since 2020.

The 23-year-old, who had lost her past four finals, becomes the youngest female to win the singles title at the All England Club since Petra Kvitova in 2011.

 

World number two Jabeur settled the quicker of the pair and got an early break in the third game, blunting Rybakina's big baseline hitting

Despite passing up two break points in the fifth game, Jabeur looked composed and again broke her opponent in the ninth game to grab a huge foothold in the match.

Rybakina's 17 unforced errors in the opener suggested a gulf in quality, but she earned a first break in the opening game of the second set following a poor forehand from Jabeur. 

Jabeur let a break point of her own pass her by in the next game as a growing-in-confidence Rybakina held, but the Tunisian dug deep to save a break point in the third.

That looked like being a big moment as, from 30-0 up, Rybakina gifted her opponent three break points, but Jabeur failed to take any of them – a running theme.

The Kazakh took three of the next four games to take the match all the way, and that momentum was carried into the decider as she won the opening game against serve.

Jabeur's best shot at hitting back arrived in the sixth game, where three break points came and went, and with that Rybakina claimed the next two games for a famous victory.

Elena Rybakina is determined to enjoy herself after setting up a groundbreaking Wimbledon final against Ons Jabeur.

Rybakina had not won a single grass-court semi-final prior to Thursday's match against Simona Halep, but she rose to the occasion in a stunning 6-3 6-3 win.

While the Kazakh said she was "quite nervous", it did not show as she forged nine break point opportunities – including in each Halep service game of the first set – and faced just one.

Rybakina's serve was similarly effective, with five aces and no double-faults; Halep had no aces and nine double-faults.

"It was really, really good," the victor said. "Usually, I have ups and downs. But I think today I was mentally prepared, and I did everything I could, and it was an amazing match."

Now, attention turns towards facing Jabeur, with both women playing their first major finals.

It will be the first time in the Open Era the women's singles final at the All England Club will be contested between two players who have not played a championship match at a grand slam before.

The stakes are only getting higher for Rybakina, but she is relishing the opportunity.

"I think it's going to be a great match," she said. "I'm going to try to do my best, but I'm going to enjoy it. I've already done a lot; it's time to enjoy the final."

Ons Jabeur was brimming with pride at becoming Africa's first grand slam women's singles finalist after sinking the Wimbledon title hopes of shock merchant Tatjana Maria.

Jabeur was determined to share the glory with Maria, hauling her close friend and "barbecue buddy" back into the middle of Centre Court for an ovation at the end of Thursday's semi-final battle.

The German mother-of-two's lifetime-best grand slam performance had included wins over seeds Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko, but the world number 103 fell in three sets to world number two Jabeur.

Jabeur has already made history but now has the title firmly in her sights ahead of Saturday's showpiece match.

"It's a dream coming true, from years and years of work and sacrifice," she said. "I'm really happy it's paying off, and I continue for one more match now. I'm a proud Tunisian woman standing here today, and I know in Tunisia they're going crazy right now."

The last African to win a grand slam of any sort was Cara Black of Zimbabwe at Wimbledon in 2010, when she and Leander Paes took the mixed doubles title.

Singles is where the spotlight typically falls in tennis, though, and Jabeur is one step away from glory. Only top-ranked Iga Swiatek, with 46 wins, has earned more match victories than Jabeur at WTA Tour level this season.

Taking this season and 2021 into account, Jabeur has more wins than anyone, her haul of 84 singles successes putting her two ahead of Swiatek.

Should the final go to a third and deciding set, Jabeur's record in tight matches could help. She has won 13 contests that have gone the distance this season, more than any other woman.

Maria made her work for the semi-final win, with Jabeur saying it was not so much the friendship that made the task so challenging.

"I think it was more difficult running for her balls," Jabeur said. "She killed me, and she has to make me a barbecue now to make up for all the running that I did on the court.

"I definitely wanted to share the moment with her at the end because she's such an inspiration for so many players, including me, coming back after having two babies, I still can't believe how she did it."

Ons Jabeur fended off close friend and tennis super-mum Tatjana Maria to reach the first grand slam final of her career, breaking new ground for Africa at Wimbledon.

In a Centre Court thrill ride, Tunisian Jabeur came through 6-2 3-6 6-1, and the 27-year-old will be Africa's first women's singles grand slam finalist in the Open Era.

Second seed Jabeur said ahead of Thursday's match that she and world number 103 Maria are "barbecue buddies". Jabeur is close to Maria and the German's two young daughters, but it had to be all about business in the biggest match of each player's life.

This stage of a major was new territory for both players, with 34-year-old Maria the oldest first-time women's singles grand slam semi-finalist in the Open Era, which began in 1968.

Jabeur broke in Maria's second service game of the opening set and looked comfortable as she swept through that opener. But there was a gear change early in the next set, Jabeur finding it more difficult to handle the slices and unconventional approach of Maria, who broke to lead 3-1 and was beginning to believe.

When Jabeur sent an unusually loose drop shot into the net, the match was level, yet the Tunisian picked up her performance when it mattered, breaking in the second game of the decider and then once more as Maria's challenge faded.

The German had been bidding to become the first unseeded women's singles finalist at Wimbledon since tennis fully opened up to professionals in 54 years ago. Maria upset big-name seeds Jelena Ostapenko and Maria Sakkari in earlier rounds, but her glorious run in London – the first mother-of-two to reach the last four since Margaret Court in 1975 – had reached its end point.

Data slam: Jabeur bids to make history for African women

There has been an African singles grand slam winner, but not yet on the women's side. Johan Kriek triumphed in men's singles at the 1981 Australian Open while representing South Africa. He defended that title a year later, by which stage he had switched nationality to compete for the United States. Opportunity knocks for Jabeur on Saturday.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Jabeur– 39/30
Maria – 17/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Jabeur– 4/2
Maria – 0/5

BREAK POINTS WON
Jabeur– 4/11
Maria – 1/2

Ons Jabeur fought back from one set down to reach her first grand slam semi-final in impressive fashion, beating Marie Bouzkova 3-6 6-1 6-1 in the pair's Wimbledon quarter-final contest.

The second seed recovered from an error-strewn start on Centre Court to see off the 23-year-old Czech in quick time, recording her 10th consecutive grass-court win and her 21st victory in her last 23 outings. 

Jabeur also became just the second African player to reach the final four at Wimbledon in the Open Era, and the first since Yvonne Vermaak in 1983, after dominating the last two sets.

Bouzkova, whose second-round exits in each of 2022's previous slams represented her previous best major performances, showed no signs of nerves when breaking in just the fifth game of the opener.

Jabeur's frustrating start eventually saw her succumb to a second break, dropping the first set, when she followed a double fault with two errors 41 minutes in, but she stepped up in remarkable fashion to take the match away from her opponent thereafter.

The world number two needed just over half an hour to take the second set 6-1 before forcing Bouzkova into a decisive backhand error to claim an early break in the decider.

That was the first of three successive breaks for the Tunisian, who hit a powerful backhand to go 4-0 up in the third before doing likewise after Bouzkova managed to hit back with a break of her own.

Jabeur then confidently served out the contest to love, and after setting up a last-four clash with world number 103 Tatjana Maria, will be widely considered the favourite to clinch the title.

Data Slam: In-form Jabeur demonstrates grand slam credentials 

When Iga Swiatek was dumped out by Alize Cornet in the third round on Saturday, most onlookers immediately looked to Jabeur as the new favourite to take the Wimbledon crown.

After a shaky start, Jabeur lived up to that billing with an imposing performance in the last eight. Only Swiatek (44) has posted more wins than Jabeur's 35 on the WTA Tour this year, while no female player can match her tally of 83 wins since the start of the 2021 campaign.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

- Bouzkova 14/17

- Jabeur 30/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

- Bouzkova 0/1

- Jabeur 0/2

BREAK POINTS WON

- Bouzkova 3/5

- Jabeur 6/9

Ons Jabeur urged the youth of Africa to believe they can make it all the way to Wimbledon as the Tunisian booked her place in the quarter-finals for a second successive year.

The 27-year-old is the new title favourite, following Iga Swiatek's third-round exit, as she chases a maiden grand slam title.

Jabeur was made to work hard for a 7-6 (11-9) 6-4 victory over Belgian Elise Mertens on Sunday, but she has still yet to drop a set.

Next for Jabeur is Czech player Marie Bouzkova, the world number 66, and she is relishing her role as a trailblazer for African and Arab women.

"I enjoy sometimes failing and succeeding after. It's amazing," Jabeur said. "I wish I could really give the message to the young generation, not just from my country but from the African continent.

"I want to see more players here, I want them to believe more in themselves and believe that they can be here. I don't come from a rich family, so you have to really stop finding excuses and go for it, just be yourself and enjoy playing tennis."

World number two Jabeur is the only Tunisian ranked inside the WTA top 700. This is her fifth Wimbledon, and last year's run to the last eight was her best performance at that point, with Aryna Sabalenka preventing her going any further.

Now she has the title in her sights.

"It's amazing to be here and hopefully I can continue," she said in an on-court interview. "I love playing on grass. I love the connection between nature and me, so hopefully it will continue this way for me and maybe through to the finals."

Mertens beat former champion Angelique Kerber in round three, and against Jabeur on Court One she battled from an early 3-1 deficit to force the opening-set tie-break.

It was exhilarating at that point, and Jabeur was relieved to win the breaker, fearing she might not have the wherewithal to come back from dropping the set.

Mertens beat Jabeur in round three at the US Open last year, so the threat she posed was clear.

"She's a great opponent really. It's never easy to play her, and I had to dig deep, very deep, in the tie-break," Jabeur said. "I couldn't imagine myself playing three sets against her."

Ons Jabeur targeted becoming world number one after making a confident start to her Wimbledon bid, having required just 53 minutes to record a straight-sets win over Mirjam Bjorklund.

Jabeur, who became world number two on Monday – the highest ranking ever achieved by an African player on either the WTA or ATP tour – raced to a 6-1 6-3 first-round victory on No. 1 Court.

The Tunisian, who prepared for her Wimbledon campaign by winning the German Open earlier this month and playing doubles with Serena Williams at the Eastbourne International, will face Katarzyna Kawa in the second round on Wednesday. 

Ranking points are not on offer at the All England Club due to Russian and Belarusian players being banned, but Jabeur is already looking further ahead, declaring after her opener that becoming the world's top female player this year was her aim.

Asked whether she was hopeful of bettering her run to the last eight in SW19 last year, Jabeur said: "Yes, for sure, especially [after] today I achieved my highest ranking.

"It's really amazing to be here, to come back to Wimbledon, to play on one of the greatest surfaces that I like, especially one that loves my drop shots and my slices, so I'm happy to be back and hopefully I'll go further than the quarter-finals.

"It's a great start for me. I want to go as far as I can this tournament and dropping four games is a start.

"In the beginning of the season, I was like number 10 or number nine, and I said, 'I belong in this ranking and I don't feel I deserve to be five or four'.

"Now I feel like I deserve it even more. I feel like I won matches to prove myself on this level.

"I do feel more confident. I do feel like I deserve to be on this level. Hopefully next step will be number one."

Serena Williams stands every chance of going on a winning run at Wimbledon, according to Ons Jabeur, who would love to meet the 23-time grand slam champion in the final.

Williams teamed up with Jabeur to play doubles at the Eastbourne International in the past week, the American's first competitive tennis since being forced to retire from a first-round clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon last year.

Seven-time Wimbledon singles queen Williams has not won a grand slam since 2017's Australian Open, and has lost two finals at SW19 during the drought, to Angelique Kerber in 2018 and Simona Halep in 2019.

Third seed Jabeur expects the 40-year-old WTA superstar to give a positive account of herself when she gets her Wimbledon campaign under way against Harmony Tan on Tuesday.

"I feel Serena was playing well and moving well. I think she can win matches at Wimbledon," Jabeur said in a BBC Sport column.

"We were put in opposite sides of the draw so that means we couldn't play until the final. That's okay - I'll send her to Iga Swiatek's half instead and leave the possibility of those two great players facing each other.

"I, for sure, didn't want to play her in the first round. You don't want to play Serena, especially at Wimbledon. But if it did happen then it would be amazing to play her and that would add another thing to the dream list for me."

 

Jabeur gets her own campaign under way when she faces Sweden's Mirjam Bjorklund on Monday, and believes the confidence gained from playing alongside Williams could prove crucial in her bid for a first title at this level.

"Playing with Serena Williams in the doubles at Eastbourne last week was an unbelievable experience and one which gives me added confidence as I try my best to win my first grand slam title at Wimbledon," Jabeur said.

"If she sees me as a great player and looks at me in that way then I can see myself that way, too."

Jabeur has never played a singles match against Williams, but having the chance to star alongside her surpassed that, allowing the Tunisian to get an insight into the mind of the great champion.

"The whole experience means I feel like I am the luckiest player in the world," said 27-year-old Jabeur.

When Wimbledon ended last year, there were two great takeaways from the tournament: Novak Djokovic would soon be pulling away in the grand slam title race and Ash Barty was beginning a new era of dominance.

Both seemed to be knock-ins, and yet neither has come to pass. Djokovic missed out on a calendar Grand Slam in New York before being banished from Australia, and despite drawing level with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 grand slams with his Centre Court triumph, he now finds himself two adrift of the Spaniard again.

Barty, meanwhile, has left her own party. The then world number one stunned the tennis world by retiring in March, having added the Australian Open she so craved to her trophy cabinet.

Djokovic and Iga Swiatek head into Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, as the top seeds.

Stats Perform has used Opta facts to consider what the men's and women's singles might deliver.

 

KING ROGER'S REIGN IS OVER, BUT DJOKOVIC AND NADAL KEEP GOING STRONG

There will come a time when the Wimbledon favourite is not one of the 'Big Three'. That time is not now.

Djokovic is the man most likely, as he targets his fourth straight Wimbledon title and seventh overall; since 2011, when he beat Nadal in the final, the Serbian has only been absent from the trophy match three times (in 2012, 2016 and 2017).

His winning run of 21 matches at Wimbledon is the fifth-longest in the men's singles. Bjorn Borg holds the record (41 between 1976 and 1981).

The last player other than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray to win the Wimbledon men's title was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. Federer is absent this year and may have played his last Wimbledon.

Nadal has won Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010. He won the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, the only season of his career when he has won three slams. This year, at the age of 36, he has the Australian and French Open trophies already locked away, potentially halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, last achieved in men's singles in 1969 by Rod Laver.

Should Nadal pull off another major coup, it would make him only the second man in the Open Era (from 1968) to win the season's first three singles slams, after Laver in 1969 and Djokovic last year.

Can the rest hope to compete?

What of Murray? Well, only Federer (19), Sampras (10), Laver and Jimmy Connors (both nine) have won more ATP titles on grass than the Scot in the Open Era. If he recovers from an abdominal strain, he has a shot at reaching the second week. He will of course have the full backing of the Wimbledon crowd.

Last year's runner-up Matteo Berrettini is fancied more than Nadal by many, having won Stuttgart and Queen's Club titles in the build-up.

There has not been an American men's singles champion since 2000, and although the United States has six players seeded, more than any other nation, it seems a safe enough assumption we will be saying a similar thing again in 12 months' time.

Third seed Casper Ruud has never won a singles match at Wimbledon, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has not had a win since reaching the fourth round in 2018. Daniil Medvedev, the world number one, cannot compete at The All England Club after their contentious decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

IF SERENA CAN'T CHALLENGE SWIATEK, WHO CAN?

From the jaws of retirement, Serena Williams is back. Silence from the 40-year-old about her intentions had become almost deafening, and yet here she is, back at Wimbledon on a wildcard, hoping to rekindle the old magic.

Because she has pushed back against the doubters for over two decades now, you have to take this seriously. Her haul of 23 grand slams is one short of Margaret Court's all-time record and Williams would dearly love to at least match it.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber.

Only four women in the draw this year besides Williams have been champion before: Petra Kvitova (in 2011 and 2014), Garbine Muguruza (in 2017), Kerber (in 2018) and Halep (in 2019).

World number one Iga Swiatek starts as favourite. Junior Wimbledon champion four years ago, she has scooped two women's French Open titles since then and is on a 35-match winning streak.

After triumphing at Roland Garros in early June, Swiatek will hope to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 (Australian Open and US Open) to win two singles slams in the same season.

The only competitive warm-up for Williams came in two doubles matches at Eastbourne, having not played since sustaining a hamstring injury at Wimbledon last year. The seven-time champion might consider it a challenge that there has never been an unseeded Wimbledon women's singles finalist during the Open Era.

The women's top two seeds have not met in the final since Serena faced her sister Venus in the 2002 title match, so don't hold your breath for a Swiatek versus Anett Kontaveit showpiece on July 9.

Could Gauff be best of the rest?

Coco Gauff made a breakthrough with her run to the French Open final. Although she was blown away by Swiatek, for the 18-year-old American it was another mark of progress. Gauff reached the fourth round in Wimbledon in 2019 (lost to Halep) and 2021 (lost to Kerber).

Fitness is likely to be the key factor in how US Open champion Emma Raducanu fares at her home grand slam, given her injury problems. Raducanu reached the fourth round on a wildcard last year and the 19-year-old will attempt to become the first British woman to reach that stage in back-to-back seasons since Jo Durie (1984, 1985).

Ons Jabeur, meanwhile, should not be discounted. The world number three reached the quarter-finals at SW19 last year and heads to Wimbledon having won on grass at the Berlin Open, albeit Belinda Bencic had retired hurt in the final.

The likes of Gauff, Raducanu and 21-year-old Swiatek will attempt to become the youngest woman to lift the trophy since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova triumphed in 2004.

A first-round exit for Swiatek would leave the event wide open, but don't count on it. In the Open Era, only three times has the top-seeded woman lost in round one: Steffi Graf in 1994 and Martina Hingis in 1999 and 2001.

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