Sloane Stephens has long been touted as the future successor to Serena Williams in terms of not only being the leading female tennis player in the US, but also a potential world number one.
Granted, Stephens is already slightly behind as Williams had won a Grand Slam by the age of 18 and another three by the time she was 20, but her first major victory could be just around the corner.
Stephens is a massive price at 66/1 to win Wimbledon and although ending Williams’s winning streak that was at 31 matches heading into SW19 will not be easy, it is certainly worthy of some each-way consideration.
Big things were expected of the 20-year-old after she beat Williams in the quarter finals of the Australian Open earlier this year, but her game has been in a bit of a slump since.
An abdominal injury could be partly blamed, but between Melbourne and the French Open, Stephens had failed to string together three successive victories.
This changed in Paris when she reached the fourth round before being beaten by Maria Sharapova and her performance in beating Jamie Hampton in the opening round at Wimbledon suggests that it is time to restore confidence in Stephens’ prospects.
Hampton was a fair yardstick having won the grass-court Wimbledon warm-up at Eastbourne, but she was fairly comfortably beaten in straight sets.
Meanwhile, the surprise first-round exit of fifth seed Sara Errani is another reason to take notice of Stephens’ price, as the Italian was the highest ranked in their quarter of the draw.
Stephens has shown some consistency in reaching at least the third round of the last five Grand Slams and she is certainly capable of beating the likes of Andrea Petkovic and Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarter finals.
There her passage gets significantly tougher as she will probably have to run the gauntlet of the top three seeds to win the tournament, with Sharapova a likely last-eight opponent, Victoria Azarenka then waiting in the semi finals and then Williams in the final.
However, Stephens has the power to compete with these players and there are signs that her sometimes lackadaisical movement has improved as she won a solid percentage of the longer rallies with Hampton.
Winning Wimbledon may still be a bridge too far for Stephens, but she possesses the tools to beat the best in women’s tennis on her day and so of the players at bigger each-way prices, she certainly looks the best bet at 66/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.