(July 1, 2013) -- Now that Serena Williams' Wimbledon campaign has ended with today's shocking upset at the hands of Sabine Lisicki, the 16-time Grand Slam champion hopes that Sloane Stephens takes her place in the winner's circle at the All England Club on Saturday.
More Wimbledon: Lisicki Owns the Moment in Dethroning Serena
“I think Sloane has a really good chance of winning,” Williams said. “She has a great draw. I think she can take it. It would be really nice to see her win.”
Whether those words are heartfelt or simply a calculated effort by Williams to avoid any more press-fueled dust-ups between the two American stars, the kind words will no doubt be appreciated in the Stephens camp as the 20-year-old prepares for a quarterfinal match with Marion Bartoli on Tuesday.
Stephens, seeded 17th, is the fifth highest-ranked woman remaining in the draw, but after four rounds of complete and utter chaos at Wimbledon, it's clear that regardless of ranking, anybody can win at The Championships this year.
It's a sentiment that the players are starting to echo with their words.
“I think it doesn't mean anything, especially here,” Agneiszka Radwanska, the top remaining seed said on Monday. “So many weird scores... There's still a lot of players playing really great tennis over there. So I think, you know, every match is different story. Doesn't matter what ranking they [are] having.”
Three remaining players have reached the Wimbledon final before (Petra Kvitova, Marion Bartoli and Agnieszka Radwanska), while two have won Grand Slam titles (Kvitova, Wimbledon 2011, and Li Na, French Open 2011), but none had inspired any belief that they could actually win Wimbledon in the lead-up this year.
That was before the top three seeds—and overwhelming consensus picks to win the title—all fell before the quarterfinals in what has become an unprecedented week's worth of upsets on the women's side.
Now, with only three top 10 seeds left, there is the belief that winning will come down to execution and the hot hand, rather than domination and a legacy.
And when it comes to execution and the hot hand, Sabine Lisicki is another player that deserves consideration as a possible winner here. Serena Williams also had high praise for the Wimbledon wunderkind, saying, “I don't think it's a huge shock. She is a great player. Her ranking has no effect on what she should be. She should be ranked higher. Especially on grass she just has, you know, a super, super game to play well on grass.”
So why not Sloane Stephens or Sabine Lisicki, or even Kaia Kanepi or Kirsten Flipkens? They may not be household names, but household names don't win matches—opportunistic tennis and poise under pressure do.
Sabine Lisicki vs. Kaia Kanepi
Last year after defeating then world No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the round of 16, Lisicki couldn't back up the win against Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals. This time around, will Lisicki be up for the challenge? We think so.
Pick: Lisicki in 3
Li Na vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
Li and Radwanska have split two previous Wimbledon tilts in 2009 and 2010. That stat is probably more telling than the fact that Li has won three of four against Radwanska. This should be an intriguing study in contrast, with Radwanska looking to force Li to hit all kinds of balls from all kinds of places, while Li will look to wrestle control of the points from her craftier, more meticulous opponent early and often.
Pick: Radwanska in Three
Sloane Stephens vs. Marion Bartoli
Bartoli won the only match that these two have played in three sets, but something tells us that Stephens will find a way to out - defend against the Frenchwoman and win this match with consistency.
Pick: Stephens in 3
Petra Kvitova vs. Kirsten Flipkens
Flipkens has come a long way in making the Wimbledon quarterfinals after her career seemed to be in decline last year, when her ranking was down to 175. Kvitova, prone to inconsistency, seems to love the grass much in the same way that Sabine Lisicki does. Even if her game seems to be falling apart on other surfaces for whatever reason, when she gets to Wimbledon, she's a threat to go deep. This year, with the wide open draw, she's more than a threat to go deep. She's a threat to win.
Pick: Kvitova in 3