Petra Kvitova has admitted Serena Williams “has a really great chance” to complete the Grand Slam this season in a realistic assessment of her bid to retain the Wimbledon title.
Second seed Kvitova will start the defence of her SW19 crown by facing Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands tomorrow, accepting top seed Williams’ installation as tournament favourite.
Williams has already bagged the Australian and French Open titles, and is primed to complete the holy grail of swiping all four major crowns in the same season.
The 33-year-old claimed four consecutive titles spanning the 2002 and 2003 campaigns, dubbed the ‘Serena Slam’, but will preserve her all-time great status if she takes all four grand slam triumphs in 2015.
“I think that Serena has a really great chance to do it,” said 2014 Wimbledon champion Kvitova of Williams’ Grand Slam bid.
“What can I think about it? I mean, it’s great. I think she is a great champion, she’s always trying to find good form for the important points. We’ll see but I think she’s really in a good way.”
Kvitova claimed her first-ever victory over Williams at the Madrid Open semi-finals in May, but warned that history counts for little against the 20-time major winner.
“For sure for me that was a great win. I’d never beaten her before so for me it was a good match,” said the Czech.
“I knew how I had to play, that’s what I think is the key if I want to beat her. But it’s still a long way off if I’m going to meet Serena here. I think that every match with her is different. It doesn’t mean if you beat her once that you’re going to beat her again, it’s not like that. I think Serena is one of the players you can beat but not every day.”
Kvitova’s assertion that Williams arrives in south west London in prime form is yet another ominous portent for the rest of the women’s field.
Both Williams sisters will be in SW19 action today, Serena meeting Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan and five-time champion Venus facing the United States’ world No 36 Madison Brengle.
Kvitova bullied Canada’s rising star Eugenie Bouchard out of the 2014 final to claim her second Wimbledon crown.
The 25-year-old Czech’s first SW19 triumph in 2011 ushered in a prolonged dip in form as she buckled under the weight of expectation, with opponents seizing that shot-to-nothing advantage against a new big gun in the game. Refreshed after a two-month sabbatical in March owing to mental exhaustion, Kvitova is far more confident heading into her second attempt to defend a Wimbledon title.
The ever-present threat from Williams aside, Kvitova admitted she is far better prepared to handle the Wimbledon champion baggage than back in 2011.
“The experience I have I think can help now,” said Kvitova.
“It’s going to be special again to be back. My parents are coming as well, they get an invitation; it’s nice to have them here. The feelings, the nice memories, they will be better than the nerves there.
“Last year before the final I was so nervous I couldn’t really even eat. But it was totally different once I stepped on the court. I had experience from 2011 and that helped.
“I think that everything which came with winning Wimbledon the first time was really difficult to handle.
“For me, before I didn’t really have this kind of expectation. I didn’t know what to expect from that. For me it was really a difficult time but finally I know how I should deal with it.”