It’s that time of year again. One hundred and forty thousand punnets of strawberries ripened to perfection, 256 players dreaming of singles glory, 19 courts trimmed with precision – all for two weeks and one tournament.
Wimbledon is here.
And here’s what you need to know as the world’s best tennis players convene at the All England Club.
Can anyone stop Novak Djokovic?
The Serb has been peerless since lifting the men’s title last year.
He has won the three other Grand Slam titles – US Open, the Australian Open and the French Open – and lost just six of 84 matches since he departed Centre Court last year.
The 29-year-old is only the third man in history to hold all four of the Grand Slams at the same time and is clear of world number two Andy Murray at the top of the rankings by a country mile.
Spanish great Rafael Nadal has withdrawn with a wrist injury while Roger Federer – still returning from a back injury – would have to turn around a record of six defeats in their past eight meetings to beat Djokovic.
Austrian Dominic Thiem – the leading light in the coming generation of players – was roundly thrashed by Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals.
What about Andy Murray?
The Scot famously beat Djokovic in straight sets in 2013 to end Great Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s champion. Murray also won their Olympic singles semi-final at London 2012 – the pair’s only other meeting on grass.
And Ivan Lendl – who helped guide Murray to those victories – is back on his coaching team after two years apart.
Murray won his fifth Queen’s Club title last week in the first tournament since his reunion with Lendl – surging back to beat big-serving Milos Raonic in the final.
Will Lendl’s steely glare from the players’ box inspire Murray to revive the ruthlessness of three years ago?
Is Serena a certainty for the women’s title?
Not at all.
Williams is chasing Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, but has suffered a series of shock defeats since chalking up her 21st at Wimbledon last year.
Roberta Vinci, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza have all beaten the previously all-conquering American at the business end of a Grand Slam over the past 12 months.
Muguruza, runner-up here last year, two-time champion Petra Kvitova and world number three Agnieszka Radwanska are the most likely winners if the top seed fails to deliver once again.
All over for Sharapova?
In recent years at Wimbledon, Maria Sharapova has opened a pop-up store on the local high street selling her sweets range, but it is unlikely she’ll be doing so this year.
Earlier this month, the 29-year-old was banned from the sport for two years after testing positive for banned heart medication.
The Russian – who has been included in her country’s team for the Rio Olympics despite the ruling – claims the suspension is “unfairly harsh” and is appealing against it.
The Brits are coming
A grand total of 15 of them will start the singles tournaments.
British number one Johanna Konta is seeded 16th – the first British woman to get a protected place in the draw since 1984 – and will fancy her chances of getting to the second week.
Heather Watson and Naomi Broady have also qualified by right, with former British number one Laura Robson getting a wildcard as she continues her long battle back from injury.
Seventeen-year-old Kate Swan from Bristol – a runner-up at the Australian Open girls’ event in 2015 – and British number four Tara Moore have also been given places in the main draw.
On the men’s side, Murray, Aljaz Bedene, Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans are joined by Liam Broady, Alex Ward, James Ward, Brydan Klein and Marcus Willis, the world number 775.
If – as seeded – Djokovic and Murray meet in the men’s final, there will be as many Grand Slam titles in the players’ box as out on court.
Lendl and Boris Becker – who coaches Djokovic – are two of a slew of famous names from the past in prominent coaching roles.
Lendl has eight Grand Slam titles and Becker six, including three Wimbledon wins.
The original Wimbledon hell-raiser John McEnroe is in Milos Raonic’s corner, Centre Court darling Goran Ivanisevic works with Marin Cilic, seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin is guiding Elina Svitolina, American Michael Chang is part of Kei Nishikori’s team and 1996 champion Richard Krajicek is passing on his know-how to Stan Wawrinka.
The million-pound-a-week champions
Both the men’s and the women’s single champions will pocket a cool £2m in prize money for their fortnight’s work.
No wonder Djokovic and Williams had a spring in their step at last year’s Champions’ Dinner.
Even the first-round losers will head home £30,000 richer.