|Serena Williams of the U.S. returns the ball during her International Women's Open tennis tournament match defeat to Vera Zvonareva of Russia at Eastbourne in southern England June 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - Two-time reigning champion and four-time overall winner Serena Williams and her five-time titlist big sister Venus are in opposite halves of the Wimbledon draw, which means the siblings could meet in another final at the All England Club.
The mighty sisters have clashed in four Wimbledon finals, with the younger Serena taking three of the four meetings.
The former world No. 1 and seventh-seeded Serena will open defense of her titles against France's Aravane Rezai and could meet former Wimbledon runner- up Marion Bartoli in the fourth round in the top half of the draw. The ninth- seeded French Bartoli lost to Venus in the 2007 finale at the AEC.
Serena's potential quarterfinal opponent could be high-flying French Open champion Li Na, the third seed who has appeared in both Grand Slam finals this year. The Chinese slugger was the Australian Open runner-up to Kim Clijsters back in January. Li will open her Wimbledon fortnight against Russian Alla Kudryavtseva. The world No. 2 and reigning Australian and U.S. Open champion Clijsters will miss Wimbledon 2011 due to a foot injury.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena, who's also a two-time runner-up in the southwest London suburb, or Li could face current world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki or fifth-seeded former Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova in the semifinals in two weeks.
The seven-time major titlist Venus, seeded 23rd, is in the bottom half of the draw and will open up against Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova. The eight-time Wimbledon finalist (5-3) could meet 15th-seeded fellow former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the third round, while second-seeded 2010 Wimbledon runner- up Vera Zvonareva could loom in the round of 16 for Venus. Zvonareva lost to Serena in last year's lopsided Wimbledon final, but avenged that setback by besting an on-the-mend Serena on some grass in Eastbourne this week.
Serena finally returned to action this week for the first time in almost 12 months. The 29-year-old superstar had been sidelined since last July, when she severed two tendons in her right foot that wound up requiring a pair of surgeries after stepping on some glass at a German restaurant. And then in February of this year, she underwent emergency treatment for a hematoma as a result of a pulmonary embolism -- a blood clot in her lungs -- which Serena said could have ended her career.
Venus is also working off some rust, as she also returned to the courts this week, in Eastbourne, after being sidelined with a hip injury for almost five months.
The top half of the women's draw is spearheaded by the former U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki. She'll open against Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja next week. The popular Dane appears to have a decent draw until a potential quarterfinal matchup against either the former No. 1 and three-time major champion Sharapova or 10th-seeded 2010 Roland Garros finalist Samantha Stosur.
Wozniacki could meet Li in the semifinals.
Sharapova will open up against fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze and could face the Aussie Stosur in the fourth round.
The surging Li could tangle with former No. 1 and former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic in the round of 16 en route to a possible battle with Serena in the quarters.
The bottom half of the draw is led by the two-time 2010 Grand Slam runner-up Zvonareva. The emotional Russian will open against American Alison Riske, could face Venus in the fourth round, 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist Petra Kvitova or two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters, or fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka in the semis.
The top section in the bottom half is led by sixth-seeded French Open runner- up and 2010 Roland Garros titlist Francesca Schiavone, who will open against former top-10 Aussie Jelena Dokic, a finalist on grass in The Netherlands this week. Schiavone could meet Azarenka in the final four.
Azarenka will open up against Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova and could tangle with last week's Birmingham runner-up Daniela Hantuchova in the third round. The Belarusian could meet Schiavone in the quarters.
The dangerous eighth-seeded Kvitova, the top lefthander on the women's tour, will open against a qualifier and could face a 12th-seeded Kuznetsova in the fourth round.
The only former champions in the 2011 Wimbledon women's field are Serena, Venus and Sharapova.
The Championships will commence Monday.