Veteran Venus casts long shadow

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The Independent Online

The young or those who are new to tennis might assume that the Venus Rosewater Dish, which is presented to the women's champion, is named after one of Wimbledon's most prolific winners.

Venus Williams has, after all, won the All England Club title five times. The silver trophy, however, dates back to 1886, and not even the veteran American was around then.

For the first time in a decade, Williams will not be among the main favourites to win the big prize in a fortnight's time. The world No 33, who celebrated her 31st birthday yesterday, has been dogged by injury since last year's Wimbledon and has played in only two tournaments this year, most recently in Eastbourne , where she was beaten by Daniela Hantuchova.

Nevertheless, Williams was a name that many of this year's major contenders will have been hoping to avoid in yesterday's draw, given that her seeding at No 23 meant that she could face some of the big guns earlier in the competition.

The unlucky rivals proved to be Jelena Jankovic, who could meet Williams in the third round, and Vera Zvonareva, who could play her in the fourth. Williams' first-round opponent is Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova, the world No 99, the winner to meet either Britain's Katie O'Brien or the veteran Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm.

When Venus does not win the title it is usually Serena who does. The sisters have won the tournament nine times in the last 11 years – Maria Sharapova (2004) and Amélie Mauresmo (2006) are the only other champions in that period – and have appeared in four all-Williams finals.

Serena, 29, has had an even tougher year than her sister, having returned to competition this week for the first time since claiming her fourth Wimbledon title last year. Within days of her victory over Zvonareva, the 13-times Grand Slam champion cut her foot on a piece of glass in a restaurant in Munich, severing a tendon. Her recovery was put back three months ago when she was rushed to hospital to have a haematoma removed after a blood clot had travelled from a leg to her lungs.

Having dropped to No 26 in the world rankings, Serena is seeded No 8 this year. She is in the opposite half of the draw to Venus and faces France's Aravane Rezai in the first round. Li Na, who a fortnight ago became the first Asian to claim a Grand Slam singles title when she won the French Open, is a potential quarter-final opponent.

Sharapova is seen by many as the favourite to win and has a favourable draw. Caroline Wozniacki is seeded to meet her in the quarter-finals but the world No 1 has yet to win a Grand Slam title. Sharapova meets fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze, in the first round and could then play Britain's 17-year-old Laura Robson .

How the Brits fared in the draw

Heather Watson (Aged 19, world No 93) v Mathilde Johansson (France, 26, No 64)

Watson broke into world's top 100 this year. The 19-year-old from Guernsey, based at Nick Bollettieri's academy in Florida, won 2009 US Open junior title. Johansson has never gone beyond second round of a Grand Slam event.

Elena Baltacha (27, No 61) v Qualifier

Baltacha has overcome injuries and illness to play her best tennis comparatively late in her career. Loves grass and claimed her biggest domestic title when she won in Nottingham last weekend. Reached Wimbledon third round in 2002.

Emily Webley-Smith (26, No 247) v Klara Zakopalova (Czech Rep, 29, No 38)

Webley-Smith achieved a high enough ranking to earn a wild card by playing International Tennis Federation tournaments in Asia and Australia. Reached Wimbledon second round on only previous appearance in 2004.

Laura Robson (17, No 257) v Angelique Kerber (Germany, 23, No 77)

Robson, the 2008 Wimbledon junior champion, has had a tough time of late and parted company with her coach this week. Her progress has been hampered by injuries, but she beat Kerber three years ago.

Naomi Broady (21, No 216) v Anne Keothavong (27, No 113)

Broady will be making her Wimbledon debut, having fallen at the first hurdle in qualifying three times. Keothavong, who beat Broady in Nottingham last month, has rebuilt her career after two serious knee injuries.

Katie O'Brien (25, No 218) v Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan, 40, No 63)

O'Brien has slipped down the rankings but is a feisty competitor. Date-Krumm, who returned in 2008 after 12 years in retirement, is a former world No 4 and was a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 1996.

Women's Draw

*British unless stated, seeding in brackets

Top half of the draw

C Wozniacki (Den) (1) v A P Santonja (Sp)

S Mirza (India) v V Razzano (Fr)

A Rodionova (Aus) v A Hlavackova (Cz Rep)

A Bondarenko (Ukr) v J Gajdosova (Aus) (27)

D Cibulkova (Slovak) (24) v M Lucic (Croa)

P Hercog (Sloven) v J Larsson (Swe)

M Johansson (Fr) v H Watson

A M Garrigues (Sp) v J Goerges (Ger) (16)

S Stosur (Aus) (10)v M Czink (Hun)

A Yakimova (Bela) v S Arvidsson (Swe)

E Baltacha v Qualifier

K Flipkens (Bel) v S Peng (Chin) (20)

L Safarova (Cz Rep) (31) v L Hradecka (Cz Rep)

K Zakopalova (Cz Rep) v E Webley-Smith

A Kerber (Ger) v L Robson

A Chakvetadze (Rus) v M Sharapova (Rus) (5)

Li Na (Chin) (3) v A Kudryavtseva (Rus)

S Lisicki (Ger) v A Sevastova (Lat)

J Zheng (Chin) v Z Ondraskova (Cz Rep)

Qualifier v B Mattek-Sands (US) (30)

A Ivanovic (Serb) (18) v M Oudin (US)

C Vandeweghe (US) v E Daniilidou (Ger)

K Barrois (Ger) v P Cetkovska (Cz Rep)

O Govortsova (Bela) v A Radwanska (Pol) (13)

M Bartoli (Fr) (9) v Qualifier

L Dominguez Lino (Sp) v R Oprandi (It)

E Rodina (Rus) v C Scheepers (SA)

I-C Begu (Rom) v F Pennetta (It) (21)

M Kirilenko (Rus) (26) v A Brianti (It)

Qualifier v Y Shvedova (Kaz)

S Halep (Rom) v B Jovanovski (Serb)

A Rezai (Fr) v S Williams (US) (7)

Bottom half of the draw

F Schiavone (It) (6) v J Dokic (Aus)

B Z Strycova (Cz Rep) v Unkown

A Morita (Japan) v T Paszek (Aut)

C McHale (US) v E Makarova (Rus) (28)

S Peer (Isr) (22)v K Pervak (Rus)

S Cirstea (Rom) v P Parmentier (Fr)

G Arn (Hun) v A Petkovic (Ger) (11)

A Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) (14) v Unknown

V Dolonts (Rus) v N Petrova (Rus)

K Bondarenko (Ukr) v A Cornet (Fr)

S Errani (It) v K Kanepi (Sp) (17)

D Hantuchova (Slovak) (25) v Unknown

S Zahlavova (Cz Rep) v I Benesova (Cz Rep)

M Rybarikova (Slovak) v V Azarenka (Bela) (4)

P Kvitova (Cz Rep) (8) v Unknown

N Broady v A Keothavong

R Marino (Can) v P M-Achleitner (Aut)

V Dushevina (Rus) v R Vinci (It) (29)

Y Wickmayer (Bel) (19) v V Lepchenko (US)

A Pivovarova (Rus) v A Tatishvili (Geor)

J Craybas (US) v A Dulgheru (Rom)

S Zhang (Chin) v S Kuznetsova (Rus) (12)

J Jankovic (Serb) (15) v M J M Sanchez (Sp)

M Niculescu (Rom) v S Bammer (Aut)

K O'Brien v K Date-Krumm (Japan)

A Amanmuradova (Uzb) v V Williams (US) (23)

T Pironkova (Bul)(32) v Unknown

V King (Us) v P Martic (Croa)

E Vesnina (Rus) v L Pous-Tio (Sp)

Al Riske (US) v V Zvonareva (Rus) (2)