WIMBLEDON, England — Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will begin her 24th appearance at the tournament against 2019 semifinalist Elina Svitolina, while Friday’s draw put two-time titlist Andy Murray up against wild-card entry Ryan Peniston in an all-British first-round matchup.
Williams, who is 43 and has played just five matches this season, and Svitolina, who returned to the tour in April after taking time off to have a baby, both were given wild cards by the All England Club.
Whoever wins that contest could face No. 28 seed Elise Mertens in the second round, followed perhaps by a matchup against No. 7 Coco Gauff, the American who was just 15 when she began her Grand Slam career by eliminating Williams at Wimbledon in 2019.
Williams won Wimbledon in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, to go along with two U.S. Open trophies.
Audible gasps filled the All England Club’s main interview room where the draw was being conducted when Murray — who has twice undergone hip surgery since winning Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016 — was drawn to face a fellow British player, and again moments later when the winner of that match was slated to take on either No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, twice a major finalist, or 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem.
Murray’s initial title at Wimbledon made him the first British man in 77 years to earn the singles title there.
Play at the year’s third Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, when No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic will open his bid for a fifth consecutive championship — and eighth overall — at the All England Club against Pedro Cachin, a 67th-ranked Argentine making his Wimbledon debut.
The potential men’s quarterfinals are No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 6 Holger Rune, and No. 3 Daniil Medvedev vs. Tsitsipas on the top half of the bracket, and Djokovic vs. No. 7 Andrey Rublev, and No. 4 Casper Ruud vs. No. 8 Jannik Sinner on the bottom half.
Possible women’s quarterfinals are No. 1 Iga Swiatek vs. Gauff, and No. 4 Jessica Pegula vs. No. 5 Caroline Garcia on the top half, and No. 3 Elena Rybakina vs. No. 6 Ons Jabeur, and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. No. 8 Maria Sakkari on the bottom half.
Rybakina-Jabeur would be a rematch of last year’s final, won by Rybakina.
Venus Williams to begin 24th Wimbledon against Elina Svitolina