The oldest tennis spectacle known as Wimbledon comes to us on Monday with its century-old traditions: all-whites, strawberries and cream, rain, the Royal Box, the famous Centre Court and, of course, lush-green grass.

The players and fans alike were granted more breathing space between the French Open and the Championships this year with the extra week for grass court tournament play. 

With all the certainties the tournament brings with it each year, the winner of the 129th edition of the Championships is, however, far from certain.

Spoiling the ‘Big Four’ party

Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka’s recent exploits at Roland Garros, adding to his Australian Open crown from last year, as well as Marin Cilic’s 2014 US Open win are a small indication that the ‘Big Four’s’ stranglehold of the Grand Slams (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have together won 41 of the last 48) is slowly loosening up. 

World number one Djokovic is probably still licking his wounds from a heart-breaking final’s loss to Wawrinka in Paris.

Spaniard Nadal, who was bundled out by the Serb in the quarter-finals and has dropped to his worst ranking in a decade, is struggling to find his form and confidence this season.

Also, aging seven-time champion Federer, who hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon 2012, is no longer the invincible force he once was on the SW19 grass.

That leaves Britain’s number one and 2013 champion Murray, who, like each year, will have to deal with the overbearing British press and the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd, in addition to his opponents in the draw.

We’re not guaranteed a new men’s champion this year but with the ‘Big Four’ losing their edge on tour, the 2015 Wimbledon is perhaps the most open the tournament has been in years.

Serena Slam

On the women’s side though, things look a lot more serene.

After capturing the last three major titles, world number one Serena Williams is on course for her second ‘Serena Slam’ (holding all four Grand Slams at once) and one would either be foolish or brave to bet against the in-form five-time champion. 

The American hasn’t triumphed on the grass since 2012 and was unable to make it past the fourth round the last two years but her current form and confidence should see her make a deep run in London.

World number two Petra Kvitova is a worthy challenger to Williams’ title campaign.

The defending champion recently pulled out of Eastbourne with an illness but she appears to find new life every time she steps onto the grass at SW19.

The Czech’s swinging lefty serve and flat-hard groundstrokes are tailor-made for the surface and she reaped those rewards during her successful 2011 and 2014 tournament runs. 

Bigger money, more challenges

Besides the prestige that comes with holding aloft the Wimbledon trophy there’s an added monetary incentive for this year’s contenders.

The All England Club announced a seven percent increase in the prize fund to reach a total of $40.60 million – the highest ever in professional tennis, surpassing last year’s US Open purse of $38.25 million.

With a $190,000 increase in the singles’ prize money, the 2015 Wimbledon singles’ champions will be $2.85 million richer by the end of the fortnight.

Wimbledon could also see an increase in the number of challenges from players this year with the introduction of the Hawk-Eye technology to Court 12 and 18 in addition to the four stadium courts.

So, as the grounds crew puts the final touches to the hallowed courts and the players make the difficult transition from clay to grass, the stage is set for an exciting fortnight.