Serena Williams will return to Centre Court almost exactly 50 weeks after she won her fourth Wimbledon title, opening her 2011 campaign against France’s Aravane Rezai.

Williams, seeded seventh after the withdrawal of Kim Clijsters, won the opening match of her comeback in Eastbourne before losing out to Vera Zvonareva in a repeat of last year’s Championships’ final, and will be closely monitored when she plays her first match on Monday. The former world No.1 has faced the talented Frenchwoman just once in competition, rallying from a set down to defeat the world No.56 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the pre-Australian Open tournament in Sydney in 2010. And so Rezai will not be a cakewalk for the four-time Wimbledon Champion, especially given her lack of match fitness.

Sitting alongside Williams in the top half of the draw is current world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, who will open her grass court season against Spain’s Arantxa Parra Santonja, the world No.107. Wozniacki, who comes into Wimbledon with 17 titles under her belt in what has still been a relatively short career, will once again be the focus of much attention on the lawns of SW19 as she attempts to win her first Grand Slam title. But in order to do so, she will have to contend with Maria Sharapova, her opposite number in the top quarter of the draw. Viewed by many as a favourite for this year’s title, Sharapova is deemed to have finally fully recovered from the shoulder injury that has blighted her for the past two years, and comes into Wimbledon fighting fit and full of confidence at what is one of her favourite Grand Slams. She opens against fellow Russian, world No.50 Anna Chakvetadze.

Should Sharapova triumph, she will face the winner of world No.77 Angelique Kerber against former junior Champion Laura Robson, awarded a wild card into The Championships this year. Fellow Brit Heather Watson, who broke into the top 100 last week, is also in the top half of the draw, meeting world No.64 Mathilde Johansson, as is British No.1 Elena Baltacha, who plays a qualifier. Emily Webley-Smith faces Klara Zakopalova. French Open Champion Li Na joked that she would be forgotten in China if she doesn’t do well at Wimbledon, and so she should be pleased at a first-round match up with world No.70 Alla Kudryavtseva. But danger lies in the prospect of a second round meeting with the in-form wild card Sabine Lisicki, quarter-finalist at The Championships in 2009, who won the warm-up event at Edgbaston Priory Club last week.

Ana Ivanovic, who plays American Melanie Oudin, Marion Bartoli, who meets a qualifier, and Agnieszka Radwanska, who will face Olga Govortsova, are other notable names in the top half of the draw.



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