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Williams sisters set to dominate Wimbledon next week

When Serena Williams wakes up on the first morning of Wimbledon next week, the reigning champion will wipe the sleep from her eyes, head downstairs and come face to face with her only serious rival for the title.

sports Updated: Jun 16, 2010 11:16 IST

When Serena Williams wakes up on the first morning of Wimbledon next week, the reigning champion will wipe the sleep from her eyes, head downstairs and come face to face with her only serious rival for the title.

It is 12 months since Serena beat her sister Venus in the fourth all-Williams Wimbledon final and little has changed on the WTA Tour to suggest a different name will be on the trophy this year.

While the likes of Jelena Jankovic, Justine Henin, Caroline Wozniacki and Francesca Schiavone can all make a case for being potential winners, if the Williams sisters play to their potential the Venus Rosewater dish awarded to the women's singles champion will be heading back to the house they share during the tournament in Wimbledon village.

Since Venus's first Wimbledon success in 2000, the sisters have won eight of the last 10 women's singles titles at the All England Club.

It is an astonishing run and, since both Serena and Venus still possess the potent mix of power and poise that makes them so hard to beat on fast grasscourts, there is every chance it could extend into the new decade.

The lack of quality outside the top handful of players on the women's tour only increases the suspicion that no matter what form the Americans are in when they arrive in southwest London on Monday -- and neither have been inspired of late -- they will be favourites against their rivals.

World number one Serena suffered a surprise defeat to Sam Stosur in the French Open quarter-finals, but the reigning Australian Open champion struggled with illness in Paris so won't dwell long on that loss.

Serena believes a ferocious will to win is behind the sisters' success and says: "It's amazing. We work really hard, Venus works even harder than I do."

"We really fight and do the best we can to be the best that we can be. That's what we play for and we both want to be number one."

Venus, currently the world number two, could be the more vulnerable of the two as she has yet to get past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam this year.

But Venus is unlikely to lose much sleep about that underwhelming run. If there is to be a shock powershift at Wimbledon this year, it is hard to predict who will snatch the trophy from Serena.

Schiavone is in the form of her life after exceeding all expectations to win the French Open, yet the Italian's triumph smacked of a modest player raising her game to levels that may never be reached again.

Jankovic beat both the Williams sisters in Rome in May, but the Serbian has never been past the last 16 at Wimbledon.
Danish teenager Wozniacki is the young gun who could make the breakthrough after rising to third in the world rankings, while experienced Belgian Justine Henin is likely to pose a threat on her first Wimbledon appearance since 2007.

Henin is back on the tour after a two-year break and showed she has lost none of her competitive spirit by reaching this year's Australian Open final as a wildcard. The 28-year-old has won every Grand Slam apart from Wimbledon and would love to complete the set.

"I will try to have fun in Wimbledon," Henin said. "I don't want to compare these two careers, because it's so different. Everyone wants to see me at the level that I was and to compete. But the confidence I got in 2007, it took many years to be at that level."

As ever, 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova will attract as much attention for her photogenic looks as her tennis, although the Russian emphasised her grasscourt credentials by reaching the Birmingham Classic final last week.