Stuckey: Is Serena Williams a Safe Bet to Win Her Stacked Quarter at Wimbledon?

Credit:

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Serena Williams

  • Serena Williams (6-1) is seeking her eighth career Wimbledon championship and 24th overall Grand Slam title.
  • Serena finds herself in one of the most difficult quarters on paper we have ever seen at a major.

While Serena isn’t the odds-on betting favorite at this year’s Wimbledon (that distinction belongs to French Open champion Ashleigh Barty), the conversation at any Grand Slam — especially Wimbledon — always has to start with the greatest of all time, Serena Williams.

This year’s tournament will mark Serena’s 19th appearance at the All England Club. In the previous 18 instances, she made the final an astounding 10 times — winning seven of those 10. She has made at least the quarters in 13 of her 18 chances.

She owns an overall record of 92-11 (89%) at Wimbledon. And only four women in this year’s field have defeated Serena in London:

  • Venus Williams (2008 final, 2000 semifinal)
  • Angie Kerber (2018 final)
  • Alize Cornet (2014 third-round)
  • Maria Sharapova (2004 final)

One of the Williams sisters has won 12 of the 19 Wimbledon championships since 2000.

*Others who beat Serena at Wimbledon: Sabine Lisicki (2013), Marion Bartoli (2011), Justine Henin (2007), Jill Craybas (2005), Jennifer Capriati (2001), Virginia Pascual (1998)

While Serena’s winning percentage at Wimbledon sits at a level almost identical to two of the three other majors (US Open, Australian Open) — grass is her best surface in my book. It just makes her powerful serve that much more devastating.

For her career, she has a 101-13 record on grass — her best winning clip of any surface.

She hasn’t played any grass events leading up to this tourney but that isn’t abnormal. And the lack of grass prep hasn’t slowed down the American down one bit in the past.

In fact, prior to her loss in last year’s Wimbledon final, Serena had won 20 straight matches in London. Those wins spanned her two title runs in 2015 and 2016 in addition to the runner-up finish in 2018. She also didn’t play any grass events leading up to Wimbledon in those years.

So, what about this year?

Let’s take a closer look at the draw by focusing on two primary questions:

  1. Should you fade Serena early in the tournament?
  2. Does she have any futures betting value in an absolutely loaded quarter?

Fading Serena Early

Historically, betting against Serena Williams in the first two rounds of a Grand Slam has been a money-burning exercise. Since losing to Venus in the second round of her first ever Grand Slam at the 1998 Australian Open, Serena has played in 70 majors. Of those 70, she has only lost in the first or second round two times.

Yes, TWICE!

And guess what? Neither of her career trio of losses in the first or second round came at Wimbledon. She is a cool 36-0 in the first two rounds here.

 

I don’t think that changes in 2019. Serena should cruise through to the third-round for the 19th consecutive time at Wimbledon.

She will start her bid for Grand Slam number 24 as a greater than -3000 favorite against qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone. Williams will then get the winner of the first-round match between Kristyna Pliskova and 18-year-old Kaja Juvan. While Juvan has some talent and Pliskova boasts a big serve that can do damage on grass, I don’t see either really threatening Serena.

Futures Betting Value?

Serena should have no trouble getting to the fourth-round. Her potential third-round opponent Julia Goerges can be tough and did make the Birmingham final this month, but the German’s serve just isn’t firing as it was last year when she made the semis here — and lost to Serena.

Photo credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Serena Williams and Julia Georges at Wimbledon in 2018

However, from there, it gets extremely tough. If the seeds hold, an in-form and grass-loving Angie Kerber  — who defeated Serena in the Wimbledon final last year — would meet Serena in a popcorn fourth-round clash.

If Serena survives that test, her quarterfinal opponent from the top half of her quarter could be tournament favorite Ashleigh Barty (5-1). And even if Barty gets upset, she could still face a stiff test from a number of class players, including Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic and Garbine Muguruza.

Including Serena, there are seven former Grand Slam champions in her quarter alone. I didn’t even mention Sharapova — a former Wimbledon champ and one of the four aforementioned women in the field to take down Serena here. They could potentially meet in the fourth-round if the Russian can find her way through the first two rounds and then likely Kerber.

There are also a few unseeded grass specialists who could cause some chaos in this gauntlet of a quarter. This is the quarter of death.

I just don’t see any value at 6-1 — which is close to the price I had Serena pre-draw — now that she’s in one of the most difficult Grand Slam quarters I can ever remember.

Of the 12 biggest favorites to win this year’s tournament, five are in this quarter. That includes three of the top five favorites (Serena, Barty, Kerber) in the market. (Those were my personal three top favorites pre-draw.) I simply can’t justify backing Williams at her current price.

In the extremely unlikely event that she gets to 10-1 somewhere, then I would have to bite. But for now, I’ll pass with potential back-to-back matches against Kerber and Barty just to get out of the quarter. Those should be semi and final matchups — not opponents in the fourth-round and quarterfinals!

In regards to who I do like in the futures market, stay tuned for my overall in-depth Wimbledon futures betting preview on Saturday.

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