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Serena, Iga, Simona: Five first-round women’s matches to watch at Wimbledon
Halep, who’s playing here for the first time since winning the title in 2019, opens against two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova.
Published Jun 25, 2022
With 11 different Grand Slam champions in the women’s draw at Wimbledon, and one of them playing their first singles match in almost a year, there was bound to be some exciting first-round match-ups—and Friday’s draw did not disappoint. Here are five first rounders to watch for on the women’s side:
[WC] Serena Williams (USA) vs Harmony Tan (FRA) [first meeting]
After missing almost a year of action due to a hamstring injury she suffered in her first-round match at Wimbledon a year ago, Serena’s back—she made her comeback in doubles in Eastbourne this past week, reaching the semifinals alongside Ons Jabeur, and she’ll make her singles return at SW19 on Tuesday. This is one of her best tournaments, too—she’s won seven of her 23 career Grand Slam titles on these courts, tied for her most titles at a single major along with the Australian Open.
She’ll take on 24-year-old Frenchwoman Tan, who’s playing in the main draw of Wimbledon for the first time. And even though Serena is currently ranked No. 1,204 on the WTA rankings, Tan will still be going for the biggest victory of her career against the former world No. 1.
 Iga Swiatek (POL) vs [Q] Jana Fett (CRO) [first meeting]
Swiatek is the hottest player on the women’s tour—no one else even comes close. She’s won her last 35 matches in a row, which ties her with Venus Williams for the longest women’s winning streak since 2000, and she’s won her last six tournaments in a row at Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros. But all of those wins came on hard courts or clay—she’ll now try to keep it going on grass, and at the site of her only Grand Slam title as a junior, at Wimbledon in 2018.
Fett, a No. 254-ranked qualifier, will be playing a reigning No. 1 for the first time. But she’s played a No. 2 before, and she nearly won that one—she had double match point up 5-1, 40-15 in the third set against Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of the 2018 Australian Open when the Dane won the next six games in a row to take the match, and she eventually won her first Grand Slam title.
 Simona Halep (ROU) vs Karolina Muchova (CZE) [first meeting]
It may have taken three years, but Simona Halep will finally get her moment as a returning champion at Wimbledon on Tuesday—she won this title in 2019, stunning Serena in the final, 6-2, 6-2, but then the 2020 edition of the tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she had to miss her title defense in 2021 due to a calf injury that also kept her out of Roland Garros and the Olympics.
Now, she’ll try to keep her Wimbledon winning streak going with a first-round encounter against the always-dangerous Muchova, who isn’t just a former Australian Open semifinalist in 2021, but who’s also a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2019 and 2021—which were actually her first two main draw appearances at the event. She’s 3-1 against Top 20 players on these courts, too.
 Emma Raducanu (GBR) vs Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) [Raducanu leads 1-0]
Wimbledon is where it all began for Raducanu last year, as she made a surprise run to the fourth round as a No. 338-ranked wild card—a few months later, she stormed to her first Grand Slam title at the US Open as a No. 150-ranked qualifier. Fast forward to today, and the British No. 1 is struggling somewhat coming into her home major, a rib injury a few weeks ago curtailing her grass-court preparation.
The draw didn’t do her any favors either, as Van Uytvanck is in form, winning two grass-court titles below tour-level over the last few weeks (a $100,000 ITF Circuit event and a WTA 125K event).
Raducanu won the pair’s only previous meeting, 7-6 (7), 6-3, at a WTA 125K event in Chicago last summer, right before her run to the US Open title.
 Angelique Kerber (GER) vs Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) [Kerber leads 4-2]
Of all of our picks of women’s matches to watch, this is the one with the deepest history—Kerber and Mladenovic have played each other six times before and although Kerber leads the series, Mladenovic has actually won two of their last three meetings, including their most recent meeting in the first round of the US Open in 2019 (the Frenchwoman prevailed there, 7-5, 0-6, 6-4).
As the only former Wimbledon champion on the bottom half of the women’s draw, Kerber has a fantastic opportunity to make it through to another final here—but Mladenovic will have other ideas.