Serena Williams at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, Britain, July 6 2018. Picture: REUTERS
Serena Williams at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, Britain, July 6 2018. Picture: REUTERS

London — Serena Williams was considered a "dangerous floater" a week ago, but halfway through Wimbledon the American now looks favourite to win an eighth, and perhaps most special, title.

The exodus of seeded players has been so spectacular that only one of the top 10 remains — No7 Karolina Pliskova.

World No1 Simona Halep, defending champion Garbine Muguruza, Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki and US Open title holder Sloane Stephens are all out.

Add double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Serena’s older sister, Venus, to that list, and there is a strong case to say the title is now Serena’s to lose, so impressive has the 36-year-old American been despite playing only a handful of matches in 2018 after giving birth to a girl in September 2017.

At 181 she is the lowest ranked player left in the draw, but that will fool nobody.

She was sensibly bumped up to 25th seed and has fully vindicated that decision, winning all six sets she has played.

It is unlikely that 29-year-old Russian qualifier Evgeniya Rodina will stop her in Monday’s last-16 clash, but the path ahead is not without hazards.

Former world No1 Pliskova, Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens — who beat Venus in the last round — and Germany’s Julia Goerges, the 13th seed, are all in her half of the draw.

On the other side Dominika Cibulkova, who was bumped out of the seedings to accommodate Serena, is playing as if she has a point to prove, while Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who won 2017’s French Open, and Russian Daria Kasatkina, both 21, have proved they are no respecters of reputation.

After a week of shocks, the women’s tournament has reached the halfway point tantalisingly poised.

Look only as far as Halep, who was knocked out by Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei, as evidence that the 2018 tournament has been the wildest in terms of seeds falling for decades.

"[Serena] I feel has a chance to win it, definitely," the Romanian said.

"But also I see many other players that they have the chance to win it. Depends on the day. Depends on the power, the feelings. Everyone can do it," said Halep.


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