Tennis: THE TOP EIGHT WOMEN

Wimbledon 97hn Roberts talked to her

1 Martina Hingis (Swit)

Born: Kosice, Slovakia, 30 September, 1980. Home: Trubbach, Swit. Height: 5ft 6in. Weight: 8st 2lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.962m. Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1995), 4.

Had the misfortune to meet Steffi Graf - absent through injury for this year's tournament - on her two previous visits for the main event, having won the Wimbledon junior singles title aged 13. Returns as the youngest- ever world No 1, the youngest Grand Slam singles champion of the century and the youngest winner of a Wimbledon title (women's doubles). In addition, she plays beautiful, controlled tennis.

2 Monica Seles (US)

Born: Novi Sad, Yug, 2 December, 1973. Home: Sarasota, Florida. Height: 5ft 10. Weight: 10st 3lb. Plays: Left-handed (two-handed both sides). Winnings: pounds 5.827m. Wimbledon record: 4th rd (1989), QF, -, F, -, -, -, 2.

The only Grand Slam singles title to have eluded her, leaving a sizeable gap even though she has won nine majors elsewhere. The former world No 1 has never risen to the occasion here, although she consoles herself that she is now able to compete at the highest level after the trauma of her stabbing in Hamburg four years ago.

3 Jana Novotna (Cz Rep)

Born: Brno, Cz, 2 October, 1968. Home: Brno. Height: 5ft 9in. Weight: 9st 9lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 4.279m. Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1986), 4, 2, 4, QF, 2, 3, F, QF, SF, QF.

Ah, yes...1993 final, game point for 5-1 serving against Steffi Graf in the final set. Double-fault. No title. It is not too late to make amends, fitness and nerve permitting. She is one of the most experienced players in the tournament and undoubtedly has the game, although her forehand can be erratic. Enjoy the smooth serve and volley style while it lasts.

4 Iva Majoli (Croa)

Born: Zagreb, 12 August, 1977. Home: Zagreb. Height: 5ft 8in. Weight: 9st 7lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.839m. Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1994), 1, -.

Played the match of her career in defeating Hingis to win the French Open, and then announced that her next ambition was to win a match at Wimbledon. Has only won four grass-court matches, two in Rosmalen, two in Birmingham. Often compared with Seles, has the serve and groundstrokes to prosper on any surface and found the belief in Paris.

5 Lindsay Davenport (US)

Born: Palos Verdes, Calif, 8 June, 1976. Home: Newport Beach, Calif. Height: 6ft 2. Weight: 11st 10lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.729m. Wimbledon record: 3rd rd (1993), QF, 4, 2.

Undoubtedly has the power, thanks to her large build, but may lack the mobility. Lost to Larisa Neiland in the second round here last year, then went on to win the Olympic singles gold medal in Atlanta, defeating four higher seeds in the process. Projected to meet Hingis in the quarter-finals this time, which would make an interesting contrast in styles.

6 Amanda Coetzer (SA)

Born: Hoopstad, SA, 22 October, 1971. Home: Hoopstad. Height: 5ft 2in. Weight: 8st 7lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.463m. Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1989), 2, 2, -, 2, 4, 2, 2.

A tireless retriever who defeated Graf at both the Australian and French Opens this year and also gave the German the worst beating of her career (6-0, 6-1) in Berlin. Has yet to make an impact at Wimbledon, but is fitter and faster after working with Gavin Hopper, who also trains the big-serving Australian Mark Philippoussis.

7 Anke Huber (Ger)

Born: Bruchsal, 4 December, 1974. Home: Going, Aut. Height: 5ft 8in. Weight: 9st 2lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 1.812m. Wimbledon record: 2nd rd (1990), 4, 3, 4, 2, 4, 3.

Projected to meet Conchita Martinez, the 1994 champion, in the fourth round and Majoli, the French Open champion, in the quarters. A solid baseliner short on tactical variety, she has not shown her best form at Wimbledon, but did reach the final of the 1996 Australian Open, losing to Seles. Endured comparisons to Graf in her early years, but still made a mark or two.

8 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (Sp)

Born: Barcelona, 18 December, 1971. Home: Andorra. Height: 5ft 6in. Weight: 8st 8lb. Plays: Right-handed. Winnings: pounds 7.474m. Wimbledon record: 1st rd (1987), 1, QF, 1, QF, 2, 4, 4, F, F.

Defeated by Graf in the past two finals, gaining enormous respect for her performance in the first of them, which included an unforgettable 20-minute game when she was serving at one set all and 5-5. Has had a comparatively poor season so far, but should never be underestimated. Projected to meet Mary Pierce in the fourth round and Seles in the quarter- finals.

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