WIMBLEDON - Women's singles: Kvitova beat Larsson in a brilliant opener

Two-time victor Petra Kvitova heads the market following a warm-up tournament success in Birmingham.

Williams, who confirmed in April that she was expecting a baby, is on maternity leave for the remainder of 2017, while 2004 Wimbledon champion Sharapova has pulled out of the grass court season with a thigh injury.

Kvitova will next face the victor of the contest between American Madison Brengle and Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands.

There is no doubt though that Kerber is not anywhere near the coasting confidence she had a year ago that took her to two Grand slam titles, an Olympic silver medal, the Wimbledon and the WTA season ending finals.

While Kvitova won through, Barty, her victim in that Birmginham final wasn't so lucky, going down 7-5 7-6 (10-8) to Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina. I think there's a few favourites but it's very open.

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Kvitova and Venus Williams are the only players in the draw to have won Wimbledon titles.

Keys beat Japan's Nao Hibino 6-4 6-4 in a tick over an hour.

When Wimbledon gets underway on Monday, the race to the women's title in two weeks' time is expected to be wide open. It depends on everything, and in Birmingham I played better and better every round.

With Serena Williams (pregnant) and Maria Sharapova (injured) missing, Kvitova and five-time champion Venus Williams are the only players in the draw to have claimed the women's trophy.

"I'm surprised at how well I'm playing, for sure", Kvitova said. Yet as an opening match it was the ideal workout for Kvitova against a willing if limited opponent on Centre Court, where she will assume the mantle of people's champion.

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At times she has wondered whether the warmth has been genuine from all corners of the locker room, where rivalries can be intense, but she has decided that at the very least "most of it is".

"But on a fast surface such as grass I think she can do really well", Mouratoglou added.

Top seed Angelique Kerber will not put too much pressure on herself to succeed at Wimbledon after enduring a dismal clay-court season which she was glad to see the back of.

Kvitova, 27, has chose to say thank you by flying the surgeon and his wife over to London for the tournament - and he will sit watching her matches in her box.

Madrid Open victor Simona Halep, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, five-time Wimbledon victor Venus Williams and Britain's very own Johanna Konta are also among the contenders. She has reached finals in Doha, Dubai and Miami this year, but has not progressed to the showpiece of a grass-court event since winning Eastbourne in 2009.

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We had a bet before St. Petersburg about me winning the tournament and it happened and here the situation is quite insane because he thought about leaving London after he lost in the final round of qualifying but then he found out he was a lucky loser.

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