No woman has won tennis’ Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, and only three women (Graf, Margaret Court, and Maureen Connolly Brinker) have ever taken all four majors in the same season.
But now, Serena Williams comes to the U.S. Open having already won the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon. If Williams wins in New York, her name will become the fourth on that list of legends. She will also tie Graf for most career majors and cement her place in the tennis pantheon.
Betting-wise, Serena is a bargain at 1/1.
But she won’t have a cakewalk to the title. No one in the women’s game has been able to trump Williams at a Grand Slam this season, but a few have come extremely close.
Who are her biggest threats heading into the US Open? Let’s take a look.
Victoria Azarenka (13/2) – The big-hitting, former World No. 1 only has two majors to her name, but she’s clearly the second-most talented player on the tour. On court, Azarenka battles herself as much as her opponent, and recently has failed to stay healthy. In reality, the Belarussian has been a lot better than her results suggest this year. After having her ranking plummet because of poor health, she lost to Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round in Melbourne, dropped three-setters to Williams at the French Open and Wimbledon. She is a two-time finalist in New York and will give Serena another tough test should they meet again at Flushing Meadows.
Maria Sharapova (8/1) – A five-time major winner, including a career Grand Slam, Sharapova is a fighter that always gives her best. She’s routinely beaten everyone on tour besides Williams, but her 2-18 mark against Serena leaves little reason to believe she can capture the US Open Title without assistance. (As does her performance in recent majors; Sharapova has reached just one major final since winning the French Open last year.)
Simona Halep (14/1) – Halep had a great year in 2014, but this season has been anything but. Last year, she went to the Australian Open quarterfinals, lost to Sharapova in the French Open title match, and made the semis at Wimbledon before getting upset in the third round at the US Open. In contrast, this year she reached the quarters Down Under, lost in the second round in Paris, and was taken out in her first match at Wimbledon. Making her outlook worse, she’s never gotten beyond the fourth round in New York.
Petra Kvitova (14/1) – Two-for-two in major finals, Kvitova has been to just three other major semis. Since winning Wimbledon last year, she has gone out in the third round three times, and the fourth round once, in four majors. Kvitova has never reached the quarters at the US Open and is just 12-7 all time in New York.
Williams has won the last three US Open Titles and there is no compelling reason to believe she won’t win this year, too. Azarenka might be the only player who can beat her at this stage. If Williams is injured, anybody could hoist the trophy and, at that point, taking a real long shot like Venus Williams (50/1), Angelique Kerber (50/1), or Sloane Stephens (50/1) isn’t ridiculous. That said, betting on a healthy Serena at even money feels like stealing cash.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out our preview of the men’s draw.
(Photo credit: Carine06 (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)