Despite being ranked No. 183 in the world as she works her way back from a 14-month maternity leave, four-time Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams has been granted an arbitrary No. 25 seed entering Wimbledon, which begins on Monday in London.
The All England Club’s decision to seed the 23-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion, noting it was deemed “necessary to produce a balanced draw,” came after Williams was not seeded at the French Open.
Williams is the lowest ranked of the eight American seeds heading into the tournament, but is expected to get the most media buzz.
Here’s a look at the top U.S. prospects in the event, which will conclude with the women’s and men’s singles finals on July 14 and 15, respectively.
At Wimbledon, American women are generally seeded in line with their official WTA ranking, but with Williams’ maternity leave taken into account, her top-25 seeding means she will not face another seed until at least the third round, when she could potentially face a top-eight player.
During her time away from the sport, the 36-year-old plunged to No. 453 in the WTA rankings, but she has posted a 5-2 record since returning to the pro tour in March, vaulting her back up to No. 183.
Williams has won Wimbledon seven times in her career, including five times in the last eight years, and remains one title away from tying Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record of 24 wins.
Despite her lack of a seed at last month’s French Open, she won her first three matches before being forced to withdraw just hours before her fourth-round meeting with Maria Sharapova after injuring her pectoral muscle.
The highest-ranked American in London will be Olympian Sloane Stephens at No. 4, who’s coming off a runner-up finish at the French Open following her first Grand Slam victory at the US Open last September. It’s just the second time in 11 years a non-Williams sister has been the top-ranked U.S. woman in the world rankings. Stephens’ power play, solidity and sensitivity will make her very suitable for the grass surface at Wimbledon, where she’ll hope to erase memories of her first-round exit from last year.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Venus Williams, ranked No. 9, is a five-time Wimbledon champion, but she has not won there since 2008. Though, she did appear in the final last summer. At 38, she’ll attempt to keep herself in the mix, while 23-year-old Olympian Madison Keys, arguably in the best form of her life, will look to contend for her first Grand Slam title. Within the last 10 months, No. 10 Keys has appeared in the US Open final, Australian Open quarterfinals and French Open semifinals, and her best Grand Slam winning percentage happens to be at Wimbledon.
At No. 16, Olympian CoCo Vandeweghe, who has made the quarterfinals twice previously at the All England Club, is the last American woman seeded in the draw.
In the men’s Wimbledon draw, the All England Club takes into account players’ two-year grass-court performances to determine the order of players who are already ranked inside the world’s top 32.
Therefore, Olympian John Isner will be seeded No. 9, one place higher than his ATP World Tour ranking, and Olympian Sam Querrey will be two spots up from his ranking at No. 11. Olympian Jack Sock will be seeded four places below his current ranking at No. 19.
The big-serving Isner will look to make it past the third round at Wimbledon for the first time in his career, while his Davis Cup teammate, Querrey, will attempt to move one step further this year after reaching the quarterfinals in 2016 and semifinals in 2017. In his last two appearances at the tournament, Querrey defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round and then a year later dispatched No. 1 Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Of the six players to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals each of the last two years, Querrey is the lone man yet to have made a final.
Sock, meanwhile, has struggled on the Grand Slam stage with three consecutive first-round losses after being the top-ranked American man just a year ago. Still just 25 years old, he has high hopes of going from fighting to remain relevant to snatching back his top-10 ranking. He’ll also be playing doubles with 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion Mike Bryan, who will be competing without his brother, Bob, who is still recovering from a hip injury.
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.