Wimbledon 2012 Top Female Contenders: Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Others

  @http://twitter.com/jtalty on June 15 2012 8:56 AM

As attention shifts from the red clay of Roland Garros to the grass courts of Wimbledon, players on the women's tour will look to continue their impressive play or bounce back from disappointing clay court seasons.  With women's tennis providing surprising results for the last five years, this year's tournament will likely provide a few unexpected results. Though women's tennis has been unpredictable in the past few years, there are a few players who have had consistent success on the grass.

Here are five women who will likely go far at this year's Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova became the favorite to win Wimbledon after she won her first French Open title and took the top spot in the WTA rankings. Sharapova's Career Slam elevates her status as one of the great female tennis players of the generation and is especially impressive considering the fact that she has admittedly felt uncomfortable on the surface throughout her career. Grass, on the other hand, is the surface which best suits her game. With her aggressive and flat shots, it will be difficult for most opponents to keep up with her. After returning from shoulder surgery, she struggled with her confidence, but now, she is playing with more confidence and belief than ever before. Already a champion at Wimbledon, the confident and hard hitting Russian will likely continue her impressive run at the All England Club.

2011 Result: Finalist

2010 Result: Round of 16

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka had a disappointing performance at Roland Garros, losing in the Round of 16 to Dominika Cibulkova, but the strong and aggressive Belarusian will be looking to get back into form at Wimbledon. Much like Sharapova, Azarenka's game is built around power. She looks to run opponents off the court and finish points with winners. With that game, Azarenka will likely see more success on grass than clay. Despite her disappointing French Open, the 22-year-old has won huge titles in 2012 including the Australian Open, Sydney, Doha, and Indian Wells. She has proven that she belongs at the top of the rankings and will look to reclaim the top spot from Sharapova at Wimbledon with her big game.

2011 Result: Semifinals

2010 Result: Round of 32

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova enters this year's Wimbledon ranked fourth in the world. Kvitova arrived at Wimbledon as a relative unknown last year despite reaching the semifinals in 2010. Few expected her to repeat her remarkable semifinal run, let alone with the title, but win is what she did.  In 2011, she lost just two sets in the tournament and beat Victoria Azarenka and Tsvetana Pironkova before cruising through a straight-sets win over Maria Sharapova in the final. Though she followed up her Wimbledon title with inconsistent results, the young Czech will feel at home on the grass courts of England.  Grass is her favorite surface, and her big and powerful serve will be difficult for most foes to return. Kvitova has seen most of her success on grass and has some of the most penetrating groundstrokes on the WTA Tour. Expect the reigning Wimbledon champion to go far.

2011 Result: Champion

2010 Result: Semifinals

Serena Williams

The most shocking result of the 2012 French Open came after Serena Williams lost to Virginie Razzano in the first round. Though Williams struggled at Roland Garros, the veteran American has faced bigger scares and will likely bounce back at Wimbledon. Williams is one of the most brilliant competitors in women's sports and will head into the tournament with a short term memory. She is 60-8 at Wimbledon and has won the tournament four times. She has power, speed, and the mentality to take the crown at Wimbledon, and is always a dangerous opponent. Moreover, Williams will enter the grass season with determination to prove herself after her disappointing performance at Roland Garros.

2011 Result: Round of 16

2010 Result: Champion

Dark Horse: Sabine Lisicki

Sabine Lisicki has struggled with injuries in the 2012 season and was knocked out in the first round of the French Open. Despite this, the world No. 15 will be a dangerous player at Wimbledon as she has been for the past two years. Lisicki possesses one of the strongest and most effective serves on the women's tour and is also one of the hardest hitters. Much of her success has come on grass. In 2011, she won the Birmingham title on grass before reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon. Lisicki will look to bounce back from her disappointing season on her favorite surface.

2011 Result: Semifinals

2010 Result: Quarterfinals

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