Next week you need to know about . . . Wimbledon

 

For sports fans who need something to fill in the hours before the Euros every evening, help is on the way. Wimbledon starts on Monday, bringing with it two weeks of exquisite English tradition and sporting excellence.

The oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament is ready to go, and that means the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club will have every blade of grass mowed to just the right length, every ballboy and ballgirl has been trained to catch every stray ball and every bowl of strawberries will hold just the right amount of cream.

Novak Djokovic (pictured, celebrating his championship point) will be hot favourite to retain the title he won for the first time last year when he defeated Rafael Nadal, and it will be a surprise if they don’t face each other in the final. Sentimental followers of the game will hope the great Roger Federer can mount a convincing challenge for his 17th grand-slam title.

In the women’s singles, the big question is whether Maria Sharapova can use her recent momentum to win back the trophy she was close to regaining last year before losing to Petra Kvitová.

There will be no repeat of Conor Niland’s heroics last year: the first Irishman to qualify for Wimbledon since 1984 thrilled fans in a first-round five-setter last year but was forced to retire in April because of a hip injury.