The pinnacle of the tennis season, let alone the grass-court season, is finally here. That’s right, grab your strawberries & cream and a pint of Pimm’s, Wimbledon returns for another year. In betting odds at Wimbledon, the usual players are favorites in both the men’s and women’s singles titles. For the women, recent French Open winner Ashleigh Barty is the outright favorite, with the likes of Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova also tipped to do well.
But what about the British representation? It’s been several decades since Virginia Wade brought the women’s singles title home (she beat Betty Stöve in 1977). British women at Wimbledon generally don’t have much success, but here we will run through all the entrants for the women’s singles title.
Harriet Dart (WC)
Best Wimbledon finish: round 1 (2018)
Best Grand Slam finish: Australian Open, round 1 (2019); Wimbledon, round 1 (2018)
It’s the second year running that British number 4 Harriet Dart has made the main draw at Wimbledon. She was a wildcard last year, losing to Karolina Plíšková in the first round and she’s already exceeded last year’s achievements by getting past the first opponent, Christina McHale 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old lost out to Maria Sharapova in the first round of the Australian Open, having made it through the qualifying rounds.
Katie Swan (WC)
Best Wimbledon finish: round 2 (2018)
Best Grand Slam finish: Wimbledon, round 2 (2018)
Like Dart, it’s the second year running that Katie Swan has received a wildcard to compete at Wimbledon. Last year, she made it to the second round – having defeated the world number 36 Irina-Camelia Begu in the opening round, she eventually lost out to Mihaela Buzărnescu. The rising star arrives at SW19 in the varying form: she made the quarter-finals of the Italian Open but failed to get past qualifying for the French Open. After opening up about her mental health struggles, Swan will look to match or even better last year’s feat – her first opponent is Germany’s Laura Siegemund.
Johanna Konta (19)
Best Wimbledon finish: semi-finals (2017)
Best Grand Slam finish: Australian Open, semi-finals (2016); French Open, semi-finals (2019); Wimbledon, semi-finals (2017)
Johanna Konta is Britain’s number 1 and the current world number 4, largely down to her successes earlier this year in the French Open. The 28-year-old beat Sloane Stephens in straight sets of the quarter-final, before a shock defeat to the unseeded Czech, Markéta Vondroušová in the semis. She’s had mixed fortunes at Wimbledon: reaching the semi-finals in 2017 and losing out to five-time winner (and runner-up that year) Venus Williams; while last year, Konta suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the unseeded Dominika Cibulková. She’s described winning Wimbledon as a “fairy tale”, so hopefully the French Open success will propel her to victory at SW19. Up first? Romania’s Ana Bogdan.
Heather Watson (unseeded)
Best Wimbledon finish: round 3 (2012/2015/2017)
Best Grand Slam finish: Australian Open, round 3 (2013); Wimbledon, round 3 (2012/2015/2017)
She may have triumphed in the Mixed Doubles at Wimbledon in 2016, but as a singles player, Heather Watson’s best finish is only the third round. She enters this year’s tournament, having struggled to find form but is already the first Brit through to round 2. She beat American qualifier Caty McNally in round 1: 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 to set up a second-round clash against the 20th seed, Anett Kontaveit. Once considered the next big thing in British women’s tennis, Watson finds herself outside of the WTA top 100 and no doubt will be glad that she’s already bettered last year’s performance.
Our best chance?
Following her success at the French Open this year and her overall form in Grand Slam competitions, we can’t look past Johanna Konta to bring some success back to Britain. As the only British woman to secure guaranteed entry to Wimbledon, there’s no doubt there’s also the pressure of performing well in front of a home crowd, but she recently declared: “I’m enjoying the tennis that I’m playing and I’m feeling very good in the things that I’m working on and the general overview of how I’m working. That more than anything I feel very good about. I definitely feel that the things I’m working on can have just as much effect on the grass.”