According to tennis odds makers, Serena Williams is matched as the player to beat across the board on the WTA 2015 Grand Slam schedule. Find out who we pick for Australian Open, French Open & Wimbledon.
The 2015 Australian Open (January 13th)
Odds-on Fave: Serena Williams +100
Defending Champion: Li Na (Retired)
Winner: Serena Williams
Betting Recap: The bookies got it right Down Under as Serena Williams, the odds on favourite, emerged the champion, beating Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim her 19th Grand Slam title. Serena Williams now surpasses Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the record books (both with 18 titles). Only Steffi Graf (22 Grand Slams) and Margaret Court (24 Grand Slams) have more titles than the American starlet.
The overwhelming question to emerge from Oz that begs an answer: Can Serena take the momentum and ride it through the remaining Grand Slams? Certainly, she can. After her convincing display in Melbourne, it's hard to find any player that comes close to Serena. The only way Serena is going to be denied another Grand Slam title in 2015 is if she falls in the earlier rounds. That's the glaring trend that emerged from 2014, when Serena Williams picked up just one major title (US Open). Beat Serena in the first week of a major or any round before the semis, and the draw bursts wide open. The closer to the ultimate prize Serena gets, though, it's nigh impossible to beat her. That outlook is reflected across the board in the remaining Grand Slams where Serena is repeatedly listed as the odds-on fave.
The 2015 French Open (May 25th)
Odds-on Fave: Serena Williams +275
Defending Champion: Maria Sharapova
Betting Preview: Unlike the men's game, the women's game lacks a true clay court aficionado today. Not since Justine Henin, the finest clay court player of her generation, has the women's game been treated to a Nadal-esque force on the red stuff, with a truly sublime understanding of the nuances of the surface, good clay-court mobility and the right balance of a baseline game and net play. It's one of the reasons why the French Open has served up a string of different champions over the last eight years, since Henin hung up her racquet in 2008, just a few weeks before the French Open got underway.*
The list of champions includes: Ana Ivanovic (2008), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009), Francesca Schiavone (2010), Li Na (2011), Maria Sharapova (2012 and 2014) and Serena Williams (2013). There are many things worth noting about the aforementioned list: a) to date, it's Ivanovic's lone major title, b) Francesca Schiavone was the quintessential underdog/ long shot tennis pick to win a major title, c) Maria Sharapova, who once described herself as a cow on ice when playing on clay, has won the French Open not once but twice and d) Serna's title winning run in 2013 marked only her second career French Open title. If this veritable carousel of champions doesn't indicate just how wide open the French Open really is, contrary to the tennis odds trading, what will? Perhaps, the fact that Serena Williams was eliminated in the second round last year with a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Garbine Muguruza, effectively failing to defend her 2013 crown.
* Henin came out of retirement briefly in 2010 but her comeback was short lived, not least she was eliminated in the fourth round of her beloved French Open by Samantha Stosur in three sets.
The 2015 French Open Top Five Faves: Serena +275, Sharapova + 400, Halep +450, Azarenka +700 and Bouchard +800.
The 2015 Championships, Wimbledon (June 23rd)
Odds-on Fave: Serena Williams +250
Defending Champion: Petra Kvitova
Betting Preview: The Williamses dominated the All England Club almost exclusively from 2000-2010. Venus Williams won five titles during that stretch while younger sister Serena won four. Only Maria Sharapova (2004) and Amelie Mauresmo (2006) broke the siblings' duopoly. Since 2010, Wimbledon has not yielded a couple of new champions. Serena Williams went on to add a fifth Wimbledon title to her hoard of Grand Slam titles in 2012, but the feel good stories of the prestigious event was the breakthrough Petra Kvitova (2011 and 2014) and Marion Bartoli (2013). It's not only the champions on the luscious lawns that made headlines but also the finalists that emerge, a mix that includes Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sabine Lisicki and Eugenie Bouchard.
Given the trends that have emerged at Wimbledon over the last five years, Serena Williams is in no way a certain tennis pick. Of course, this doesn't mean tennis bettors should dismiss her out of hand. Rather that there are other potential contenders in the mix that could emerge victorious and deserve a tickle on your wagering ticket.
The 2015 Championships, Wimbledon Top Five Faves: Serena +250, Kvitova +400, Sharapova +600, Azarenka +750 and Bouchard +800.
The 2015 US Open (August 25th)
Odds-on Fave: Serena Williams +150
Defending Champion: Serena Williams
Betting Preview: Serena Williams salvaged what would have been a disappointing 2014 season when she won the 2014 US Open title. The win marked her third straight US Open crown, sixth overall US Open title. To date, six titles is the most Serena has captured at one Grand Slam championships, a feat she recently rivalled Down Under. (Her 19 titles are as follows: 6 Australian Open, 5 Wimbledon, 6 US Open and 2 French Open). When she enters the US Open, she'll be seeking a personal best seventh title.
No player is more conscious of her place in the history books or the importance of numbers. It's all down to numbers with Serena right now, how far she can go. How many more she can win. Arguably, the US Open has been one of her best majors; hence, she's the runaway fave to win outright. Indeed, her odds to win the US Open are much shorter than any of the other slams where she's trading above +200 (or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice).
It's a long way to the US Open, but shading Serena on your tennis picks at this early vantage point isn't a bad idea. If she gains momentum down the stretch, her tennis odds are only going to shorten and the value will be lost.
The 2015 US Open Top Five Faves: Serena +150, Azarenka +500, Sharapova +600, Halep +600 and Bouchard +900.