By Lee Dover
It is often easy to get caught up in the action of the men’s half of the Wimbledon Championships, especially in recent years.
With the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic handing around the Wimbledon trophy as though it is a game of pass the parcel, and Andy Murray trying valiantly to squeeze in on the fun, it is easy to forget about anything else going on around SW19.
However, tennis fans will not want to dismiss the excitement surrounding the women’s portion of the Wimbledon Championships in 2012.
Seeing as though many established and celebrated names in female tennis were dotted all around the seedings list, it was inevitable that a few treats were going to be served up straight away.
And we were not wrong. Just a few short years ago, no one would have thought that Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic would be one of this year’s first-round bouts, or Venus Williams v Agnieszka Radwanska a potential second-round tie.
Of course, plenty of the attention heading into Wimbledon 2012 is over whether Maria Sharapova can follow up her success at the French Open and bag another title inside SW19.
Paddy Power has the Russian starlet down as the clear 11/4 favourite to make it two-for-two in Grand Slam victories.
Need more convincing? Well, take a look at these kind words by nine-time Wimbledonchampion Martina Navratilova: “[Sharapova has] played just amazing tennis. She’s been dominating, winning 80 per cent of the games on her opponents’ serve, which is ridiculous.”
Petra Kvitova may have a thing or two to say about Sharapova cruising to glory at Wimbledon 2012 though.
The Czech ace knocked the Russian ace off her high horse last July on the glorious Centre Court with a straights set victory to become the reigning women’s Wimbledon champion.
But does Kvitova think she can make lightning strike twice? “For sure,” she told the Guardian newspaper. “Sharapova is hard to beat. The Williams sisters are also tough on grass. Anyone in the top ten has a chance but I think I will be OK.”
Paddy Power is offering 5/1 for Kvitova to power past her peers once more, which packs in plenty of value for the Czech underdog.
This year all of the matches at Wimbledon will be streamed live on PPtv for Ireland and UK customers.