7-time champion Serena Williams receives a soft draw for the return of Wimbledon

LONDON – Serena Williams avoided any early showdowns against successful opponents she spoke at Wimbledon in a draw on Friday that could put her against No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the third round.

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Williams returns to the grbad court tournament for the first time since 2016 after missing last year while pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter in September.

Ranked outside the top 150, but the All England Club decided to seed their 25th based on past success, which includes collecting seven of their 23 Grand Slam trophies at Wimbledon. Williams' first-round opponent when he plays Monday will be Arantxa Rus, number 107 of the Netherlands, who has a career title.

Williams competes for the first time since retiring from the French Open before a fourth round showdown against five-time main champion Maria Sharapova in early June, citing an injured chest muscle. That was Williams' return to the Grand Slam action after a 16-month absence.

Rus has only reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2012. It was the last time he won a game at the All England Club. She was defeated in the first qualifying round a year ago, as were the two women Williams could face in the second round, the number 136 Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria and the receiver of the wild card 167 Tereza Smitkova of the Czech Republic.

Svitolina has only reached the fourth round.

The possible fourth round opponent of Williams, the finalist of the US Open. UU 2017 Madison Keys, made an appearance in the quarterfinals, while the potential quarter-final of the Americans of 36 years The reigning champion of the Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki, has never pbaded the fourth round.

Williams could face his older sister, the five-time champion and the No. 9 seed Venus, in the semifinals. Venus Williams opens against number 62 of Johanna Larsson of Sweden, who is 0-7 at Wimbledon.

In the upper half of the women's group, the quarterfinals could be the champion of the French Open Simona Halep vs. two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and defending champion Garbine Muguruza vs. No. 6 Caroline Garcia. In the bottom half, Wozniacki, No. 2, faced Svitolina, while the US Open champion. UU Sloane Stephens could play No. 7 Karolina Pliskova.

The possible men's quarterfinals in the top half are eight times champion Roger Federer against US Open 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson, and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic against seed No. 6 Grigor Dimitrov. In the bottom half of the parenthesis, it could be two-time Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal against US Open 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, and No. 4 Alexander Zverev against No. 7 Dominic Thiem.

Two-time champion Andy Murray will face the 48th-ranked Benoit Paire in the first round. It's a rematch of Murray's fourth-round victory over the French at the All England Club in 2017.

That was Murray's last victory before he stayed out almost a year because of an injured hip that was surgically repaired in January.

He returned to action last week and that's why he ranks 156th and not seeded at Wimbledon, which he won in 2013 and 2016.

Murray could face 26-seed Canada's Denis Shapovalov in the second round.


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