Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo feels she is one of just a handful of women who can win Wimbledon this year.
Mauresmo finally fulfilled her potential in 2006, overcoming the nerves which had previously afflicted her on the big occasions to win Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
The 27-year-old came from a set down to beat Justine Henin in the final at the All England Club and, despite losing to Henin in yesterday’s final at Eastbourne, is in confident mood ahead of the defence of her title.
“I’m very happy to be back,” said Mauresmo, seeded fourth behind Henin, former champion Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic.
“I was actually here last weekend before going to Eastbourne on the Monday.
“Everything is just coming back into the mind, the great memories of last year, of course, and the atmosphere that I like to feel here, even though it was a little empty last weekend. I enjoyed the moment and I’m still enjoying it right now.
“Tennis-wise I feel a little bit better than last year, but I still wait for this first match to happen.
“It’s going to be like, ’okay, now I’m in the tournament, it’s finished enjoying the memories and everything.”’
“I think there four or five (players) able to get the trophy this year and I do consider myself part of these four or five players.
“I put the Williams sisters in that group. They’re big servers and on the grass that is obviously very important. And having the experience of playing these big events, winning many of them.
“Justine is unbeatable for the last three or four weeks. Let’s hope she’s not for the next couple.”
Mauresmo has won just one title in 2007 and only reached the fourth round in the defence of her Australian Open title.
She also struggled once more in front of her home crowd at Roland Garros, losing in the third round in Paris, but memories of her poor form ahead of Wimbledon last year mean there is no need for concern.
“I struggled a lot in the end of last year and again in the beginning of 2007,” added Mauresmo, who will play the American Jamea Jackson in the first round on Tuesday.
“I definitely think it was disappointing in some moments.
“I’m definitely looking forward to finding some confidence, some rhythm again.
“Obviously, it was much better this week in Eastbourne, looking at how I played, looking at how I felt on the court. I’m just hoping that the grass season can really put me back to where I should be.
“Last year I didn’t feel so good because I had a pretty poor week in Eastbourne. I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to produce again the same kind of tennis I played the years before, reaching the semi-finals several times.
“But after my first match here I really felt great. I think it was really kind of a key moment for me last year.
“From nowhere in Eastbourne, I really came up to my first match, not playing a great player, but still producing on my part some great tennis.
“Then I thought, okay, I have this Wimbledon feeling. It feels great.”
Mauresmo has struggled with illness and injury this year, missing two months of the season with appendicitis and struggling with a thigh injury in the French Open.
But she added: “I have to say this part was really concerning me for the last few months. It’s been going on great since last week and I’m feeling good now.
“I’m hoping it’s really going to keep up like this and even improve. You put so much work in to recover from surgery and everything, you really try to push yourself every practice, to be back at your best level, which is not so easy.
“It’s finally satisfying to see that things are coming back and it’s paying off.”