Who will prove to be the ace in the pack?
There’s barely been time for tennis fans to recover from Novak Djokovic beating Andy Murray in the French Open final, and now here we are again – as the world’s best players return with their all-whites freshly bleached to do battle at the All England Club. The third Grand Slam of the year on SW19’s hallowed grass courts is always one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, and it’s an early start for Sue Barker as she introduces coverage of the opening day’s play in Wimbledon 2016 (Monday, BBC2, 11.30am). The action on Centre Court traditionally begins with the men's singles champion beginning the defence of his title. That man is Djokovic, who goes into the tournament as the heavy favourite after dominating the men’s game for the last couple of seasons. The Serb won his first Wimbledon title in 2011, and famously celebrated by eating a handful of Centre Court grass. He made the final again in 2013; and in 2014 and 2015 was munching happily on the turf again as he defeated Roger Federer both times to claim back-to-back titles – the first man to do so since Federer’s unequalled five-year reign from 2003 to 2007. Djokovic’s four-set defeat of Murray in Paris a fortnight ago saw him become the first man since the great Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, and few would bet on him adding to his three Wimbledon successes a week on Sunday. His main danger is likely to come from world No.2 and 2013 champ Murray, who may trail Djokovic in the head-to-head, but continues to win enough matches against the Serb and push him in the ones he loses to keep his rival and friend honest. As far as the women's tournament goes, Serena Williams remains very much the queen of the game. Her quest for the calendar-year Grand Slam and a 22nd title overall, which would tie Steffi Graf’s Open Era record, was unexpectedly derailed by Italian veteran Roberta Vinci in New York last year. Returning in January at the Australian Open, Williams suffered another surprise defeat to left-hander Angelique Kerber. So no calendar Slam this year, but the quest for 22 was very much still on, and despite various illness and injury problems Williams stormed to the French Open final for the loss of just one set – only to be defeated by Garbine Muguruza.
Court in the act Sue Barker introduces live coverage