2002 Britannic Asset Management

Pierce pencils in her Wimbledon warm up

Mary Pierce, a recent French Open quarter-finalist, has planned to tune up for The Championships at SW19 with a foray to the Eastbourne this month.

The French ace, a former Australian and French Open champion, joins an ever-growing list of the big names destined for the sleepy south coast resort.

She joins five other stars – Lindsay Davenport, Jelena Dokic, Anna Kournikova, Martina Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario – who have all made an impact on the grass at Wimbledon.

American Davenport was crowned 1999 Wimbledon champion and Australian-based Yugoslav Dokic sensationally reached the 2000 quarter-finals on her SW19 debut as a Qualifier then bettered that last year by marching into the last four.

Russian blonde beauty Kournikova, who holds the record for being the youngest Wimbledon semi-finalist aged just 15, followed in the footsteps of US star Chris Evert to reach the last four at The Championships on her debut in 1997. She fell to eventual champion and world #1 Martina Hingis of Switzerland. Kournikova missed last year’s Wimbledon due to a set of injuries, including a left foot stress fracture.

Veteran Navratilova is a late wildcard entry, which will be her first main draw Singles appearance in eight years, and she has only entered after losing a personal bet. The American has won the Eastbourne title a record 11 times but is most unlikely to make it a dozen crowns.

Sanchez-Vicario, who settled for a share of the spoils with Czech Jana Novotna for the 1997 Eastbourne title because of bad weather, has twice finished runner-up at Wimbledon but is arguably past her sell-by date so will at Devonshire Park this season to make up the numbers.

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