The ladies event, in stark contrast, still has a much more open feel and if Venus Williams cannot become champion for a sixth time - and she would have to be by some distance the oldest in modern times at 37 to do so - then it’s extremely difficult to identify an obvious first-time winner. Serena still looms large over those trying to succeed her. Even big sister may allow herself a wry smile that Ana Konjuh, her 19-year-old opponent on Centre Court who will hit with an extraordinary lack of inhibition, is nicknamed ‘Baby Serena’. Alas for the young Croatian, Venus hasn't lost to a teenager for 13 years.
On No.2 Court, there is more on the line than just the prospect of Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza, who lost the last two finals to Serena, progressing to the quarter-finals. If Kerber loses, her world No.1 ranking goes with her and she will have noted with concern how Muguruza, who set off the alarms while cooking steak in her Wimbledon flat the other night, has found smoking hot form.
Then there’s Victoria Azarenka’s toughest adventure yet as ‘Supermum’ on No.2 Court against Simona Halep, perhaps the best player never to have won a major, who could still end the week as champion and world No.1.
Top billing, though? Well, it’s four years since we had two Britons on singles duty in week two so Murray and Johanna Konta can share as the hype starts swirling in earnest about them possibly becoming the first home pair since Fred Perry and Dorothy Round in 1934 to win in the same year.
French opponent, Caroline Garcia, who’s known all about the difficulties of being saddled with great expectations in her homeland. Sometimes, she must have felt like cursing Murray for his tweet six years ago when she was 17, pronouncing her as a future world No.1, but this has felt like the year that Garcia has finally begun to believe, reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open and beating Konta in a tight affair at Indian Wells.
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse