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Serena Williams Continues To Chase History At Wimbledon

By Stuart Lieberman | June 29, 2015, 10:13 p.m. (ET)

Serena Williams reacts in her women's singles first round match against Margarita Gasparyan of Russia at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London.

Only two men and three women have ever won a calendar-year Grand Slam in tennis.

No player — man or woman — has won all four majors in a single year since Steffi Graf did so in 1988.

Serena Williams, who was just 6 years old at that time, enters this week’s Wimbledon halfway there. She is the top American to watch as 16 women and seven men from the United States take to the All England Club grass courts at Wimbledon, which started Monday. 

Play begins at 6 a.m. ET each day of the tournament, with the women’s singles final being held on July 11 and the men’s draw culminating on July 12.

Here’s a look at the U.S. prospects in the event.

Williams Rolls Into Wimbledon

Top-ranked Williams is 32-1 this season and will be going for her 21st Grand Slam singles title — as many as all other active players have combined and just one shy of Graf’s open era record of 22.

Having already won the Australian Open and French Open this year, and the U.S. Open last year, Williams can become the first player to hold all four major titles at once since she accomplished the “Serena Slam” in 2002-03.

“I don't feel any pressure to win all four,” Williams told USA Today on Saturday. “Ultimately, I'm taking it one day at a time and I'm not thinking that far.”

Williams has won Wimbledon five times previously (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012) and was the runner-up twice, but she bowed out in the fourth round in 2013 and the third round in 2014.

Her last tournament title on grass came at the London 2012 Olympic Games, which was also held at the All England Club.

“I haven’t done well at Wimbledon recently, so that’s the only one that’s kind of eluding me,” Williams told the Associated Press. “I’m trying to get to that one, at least make it deep in the second week of that tournament.”

The draw, released on Friday, will certainly put her championship mettle to the test, with Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Victoria Azarenka on her side of the bracket. In the fourth round, she could potentially face her sister, Venus Williams, who begins her campaign for a sixth Wimbledon singles title against fellow American Madison Brengle.

However, the last three women to beat the mentally tough Serena Williams — Alize Cornet, Sabine Lisicki and Petra Kvitova — are all in the bottom half of the draw.

The No. 21 seed, American Madison Keys, who is coached by Wimbledon champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Davenport, could be in for a potential blockbuster third-round match with reigning Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard. Keys, 20, will try to rely on her powerful serve to make the second week of Wimbledon for the first time.

Isner, Sock Look To Change U.S. Men’s Luck

John Isner in action in his men's singles first round match against Go Soeda of Japan at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2015 in London.

It will be an uphill climb for the U.S. men, as an American man has not won a Grand Slam title in 12 years, the longest U.S. drought since Grand Slam tennis began in 1877.

No. 17 seed John Isner and No. 31 seed Jack Sock will look to lead the charge.

Despite his 6-foot-10 frame and colossal serve, Isner has never made it past the third round of Wimbledon, and he will likely have to upset reigning U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic to get there.

Isner’s name is inscribed on a plaque on Court 18 at Wimbledon, commemorating his role in the longest match in the history of tennis during the 2010 edition of the event. He defeated Nicolas Mahut in a marathon match that last 11 hours 5 minutes over the course of three days.

Sock, seeded for the first time in a Grand Slam singles event, is in the midst of a breakout season. He won his first ATP singles title at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston and reached the Round of 16 at the French Open, where he became just the second American ever to take a set from Rafael Nadal. He wrote “4UGPA” on his shoes in Paris to honor his grandfather, who passed away following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s in June.

Last year, Sock lost in the second round at Wimbledon, and if he makes it there again, No. 2 seed Roger Federer would likely await for an almost guaranteed Centre Court match.

Siblings Or Sock In Doubles?

Three-time Wimbledon doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan are the top seeds in the men’s doubles competition, making their 17th straight appearance in the tournament. The 37-year-old twins have won at least one Grand Slam title every year from 2005-14, and 16 in total, but they have yet to claim one this year.

Sock and Canada’s Vasek Pospisil are the reigning men’s doubles champions at Wimbledon, having defeated the Bryan brothers in a five-set thriller in last year’s final thanks to Sock’s rifled forehand.

In the women’s doubles competition, the Williams sisters have won Wimbledon four times.

Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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