Serena Williams will equal Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Open Era Grand Slam wins if landing odds of 1/4 by beating Angelique Kerber in the 2016 Wimbledon ladies’ final.
But, in order to defy the 3/1-rated outsider she will have to overcome inauspicious happenings across the season building up to this moment.
Williams keeps passing up opportunities to register her 22nd Slam, to the extent that it seems the potential to do so must be weighing on her mind.
After winning four straight between the 2014 US Open and the 2015 All England Championships, she crashed out in the semis at Flushing Meadows last September against Roberta Vinci, against whom she’d never dropped a set in four previous meetings.
That missed opportunity was the first of three straight Slams in which she has passed up the opportunity to move alongside Graf at the height of the Open-Era pantheon.
Since then, Serena has lost two successive big-four finals, to her Wimbledon adversary at the Australian Open and Garbine Muguruza-Blanco at Roland Garos.
Her defeat in Melbourne rates doubly concerning as victory there has been part of the prelude to all but one off her past tournament wins on the grass at SW19.
Nor are that pair of last-hurdle falls the only ones on her recent resume.
After winning all five tour deciders she contested across the 2015 campaign, the doyenne of the contemporary women’s game has prevailed just once in four this year.
She has lost two of her five clashes with Kerber, by Serena standards a tip-tuck head-to-including their most recent duel and the German has looked in excellent shape so far in London, arriving at the final without dropping a set (unlike the American).
In such circumstances the 9/10 available about Kerber taking at least one set has to look an attractive price.