Wimbledon begins bright and early Monday morning (June 21, 6:30 a.m./5:30c, ESPN2) and the top two seeds — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — have pulled off what NBC/ESPN2 analyst Mary Carillo calls "the hardest, trickiest thing to do in tennis." That is, win two majors on opposite surfaces back-to-back in about a month. Nadal did it in 2008, Federer last year when Nadal was hobbled by bad knees.
Only the Spaniard gets a shot at the daunting double this time after prevailing on the French Open clay earlier this month. But will the Wimbledon grass be greener for Federer, the defending champ who exited Paris in the quarterfinals? "There's no place in the world better for Roger to regain his poise and his game than on that grass at Wimbledon," Carillo says. But she adds that Nadal is healthy, confident and has a 14-7 lifetime edge over Federer. "It's one of the great rivalries our sport has ever enjoyed."
On the women's side, defending champ Serena Williams, big sister Venus and Maria Sharapova, who have all won at the All England Club, will try to keep Belgium's Justine Henin from joining their exclusive club. Henin "claims the reason she came back to tennis was to win Wimbledon," Carillo says, "so you've got to keep your eye on her." With so many storylines, no wonder the Queen of England is making her first return to the tournament since 1977.
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