“They act like they've got the biggest tournament in the world,” seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras once said, before swiftly adding: “And they're right, they do.”
Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam of the season after the Australian and French Opens and before the US Open, is regarded as the best and most prestigious Grand Slam in tennis.
The pristine grass courts, the strict all-white dress code and the majesty of the All England Club mean that, for two weeks of the year at least, the eyes of the sporting world fall on a small corner of southwest London.
Wimbledon always guarantees high drama as well as high-quality tennis: but this year’s Championships appear to be particularly unpredictable. Both the men’s and women’s singles are exceptionally open, with a large number of players confident of success.
Here we preview the Championships and provide you with all the key information you need to know ahead of Monday 3 July.
When is it?
Wimbledon Qualifying at Roehampton began on Monday 27 June, concluding on Thursday 29.
The queue will then open at 8am on Sunday 2 July – if you’re into that sort of thing – before The Championships get underway on the morning of Monday 3 July. Weather permitting.
Where will I be able to watch it?
On the BBC, of course. Coverage on BBC1 and BBC2 will be led by Sue Barker, who will be joined at the All England Club by the likes of former Wimbly champions Boris Becker, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.
A number of other tennis legends will be on hand to help out, including Pat Cash, Andrew Castle, Annabel Croft, Jo Durie and Tim Henman.
Clare Balding will preside over Today at Wimbledon every night on BBC2 (RIP Wimbledon 2Day) while there will also be a special documentary on the history of the tournament screened on BBC1.
Don’t forget BBC Radio: 5 Live will present “100 hours of action”, fronted up by Tony Livesey and Eleanor Oldroyd.
And in case you’re more into Çağla Büyükakçay than Caroline Wozniacki, the BBC Sport website will offer HD streams of every single court so you can follow every match as it happens.
What other coverage can I follow?
Ours! The Independent will live blog every single day of The Championships, bringing you match reports, player interviews and all the news and gossip from around the courts.
Can I still get tickets?
You can – but be prepared to graft for them. Ground passes are still available from £25 providing you’re willing to queue.
For a full lowdown on the ticketing process including prices and information on the different types of tickets available, click HERE!
What is the weather forecast?
Qualifying has been hit by the rain, but good weather has been forecast for the first week of The Championships. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are all meant to be bright, sunny days, while Thursday will be cloudier but with temperatures around the 24° mark.
When is the Order of Play announced?
After the initial main draw, the Order of Play for the next day will be announced around 5pm every evening.
Who are the defending champions?
Victory for Andy Murray on the most famous stage in tennis was even sweeter second time around. Three years ago Murray’s overwhelming emotion after ending Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s singles champion at Wimbledon was one of relief, but after winning the All England Club title for a second time here the Scot said that he was determined to enjoy the moment.
“I feel happier this time, more content,” Murray said after beating Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 with a performance that was even more dominant than the scoreline might suggest. “Last time it was just pure relief, and I didn't really enjoy the moment as much, whereas I’m going to make sure I enjoy this one more.”
Angelique Kerber did her best to defend her childhood idol’s record, but Serena Williams’ onslaught on history proved irresistible. Ever since her triumph here 12 months ago Williams had been just one victory away from equalling Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles and she finally achieved her goal by beating Kerber in one of the best Wimbledon finals of recent times.
Kerber, who had denied Williams her 22nd title by beating her in the Australian Open final at the start of this year, again pushed the world No 1 hard before losing 7-5, 6-3 after an hour and 21 minutes of fierce competition. After hitting the winning volley to secure her seventh Wimbledon title Williams fell on her back in relief as much as celebration.
Who could win?
This is the most open The Championships have been in years.
Andy Murray is the current World No 1 but has endured a difficult 2017. He crashed out of the Australian Open in the Fourth Round to Mischa Zverev and failed to win a match at Indian Wells, losing to the qualifier Vasek Pospisil.
He did perform much better at Roland Garros, reaching the semi-finals before losing in five sets to Stan Wawrinka, but a shock exit to the Australian lucky loser Jordan Thompson reignited fears that he will find it hard to defend his Wimbledon title.
Fortunately for Murray, the vast majority of his rivals have their own problems. Wawrinka also lost in the first round at Queen’s, as did Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios. Novak Djokovic is meanwhile playing at an ATP 250 event in Eastbourne in a last-ditch attempt to find some form, while Rafa Nadal has struggled with injury since completing La Decima at the French Open.
“My current level is not enough to compete the way I want in Wimbledon,” he commented last week.
Roger Federer is the favourite, naturally, and won a ninth Halle title on Sunday. However he has his own fitness concerns, and also suffered a surprise loss to the German veteran Tommy Haas in Stuttgart.
The women’s draw is equally open. Remarkably, the World No 1 – Angelique Kerber – is a rank 27/1 outsider after her first round exit to Ekaterina Makarova: the first women's top seed to lose in the opening round at the French Open in the Open Era.
Petra Kvitova is the favourite after her success in Birmingham, but on Monday announced that she would be forced into pulling out of Eastbourne with an abdominal injury. Garbiñe Muguruza and Coco Vandeweghe have both been playing well and cannot be discounted.
Karolína Plíšková and Johanna Konta both head to Wimbledon in good form but have only five wins at Wimbledon between them, while French Open runner-up Simona Halep has only ever reached one grass final in her career: 's-Hertogenbosch in 2013.
What is the prize money?
The prize money has increased for 2017. This year’s singles champions will receive £2.2m each for winning the Tournament, up from a paltry £2m the year before.
The All England Club has this year revealed a much larger prize pot, adding £3.5m for a grand total of £31.6m. First round losers are the biggest benefactors. They will now receive £35k for their solitary appearance, a 17% increase from last year.
What are the odds?
Roger Federer 2/1
Andy Murray 4/1
Rafael Nadal 5/1
Novak Djokovic 6/1
Milos Raonic 12/1
Marin Cilic 14/1
Alexander Zverev 20/1
Nick Kyrgios 25/1
Petra Kvitova 5/1
Karolina Pliskova 11/2
Garbine Muguruza 8/1
Johanna Konta 10/1
Venus Williams 12/1
Jelena Ostapenko 14/1
Simona Halep 16/1
Coco Vandeweghe 18/1
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