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Ranks of women’s stars thinned at Wimbledon

Cornet

– The “Big 4” who have won 35 of 37 of the past Grand Slam singles titles – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer – are all around for the second week at Wimbledon, joined by the new major winner on the block, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka.

The same can’t be said on the women’s side, where top-seeded and five-time champion Serena Williams won’t see any action at the All England Club in Week 2 except in doubles with her sister Venus, another five-time Wimbledon winner who is also out of singles.

With Serena out and second-seeded Li Na also a third-round loser, it marks the first time in the Open era that the top two women’s seeds haven’t advanced to Wimbledon’s fourth round.

Williams, who has 17 Grand Slam singles titles, hadn’t been knocked out of Wimbledon so soon since 2005, but has departed before the quarterfinals at four of the past five majors.

WTA founder Billie Jean King, winner of eight Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era, says she recalls going through a similar streak in her career.

“Most definitely,” King said Sunday near Wimbledon when announcing Singapore as the new site of the WTA season-ending championships in October.

“Everybody does. But I think there might be some underlying things happening to her, some things off the court, that are affecting her. I’m sure she will work them out.”

On a sunny but blustery middle Sunday – traditionally an off-day at Wimbledon – most of the players remaining in the singles draw held sessions at the nearby Aorangi Park practice courts.

Federer and Murray were there at the same time, although because of rain delays on Friday, Federer, like Nadal, won’t play his fourth-round match until Tuesday.

Federer says he’s amazed as anyone about the Big 4’s ability to maintain such a stellar record in Grand Slam tournaments.

“I came through the ranks where it was normal for top guys to have a bad Slam, have maybe two bad Slams from time to time, but it barely happens anymore,” Federer said. “It’s like such a shock when it does. I think I’ve been surprised how consistent I’ve been personally.”

Djokovic’s chances of advancing might rest with his sore arm.

He had an afternoon training session Sunday to test his left arm and shoulder he injured in a nasty fall Friday in his Centre Court win over France’s Gilles Simon.

Djokovic will play the third match on Centre Court today against 14th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Alize Cornet, who scored the biggest upset of the tournament when she beat Serena Williams on Saturday, opens today’s play on Centre against Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

Defending champion Murray plays Kevin Anderson in the match following.

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