Sheesh, you barely know where to start with this Wimbledon. Should we banter about the Serena-Maria verbal volleys, the best gathering of men since Wimbledon 2012, the accepted unacceptability of draws in sports, or Rafael Nadal as a No. 5 seed?

Fifth-seeded Rafael Nadal . . .

Nadal, the fifth seed . . .

Nadal, seeded No. 5 . . .

Sometimes, if you practice typing something weird, you can almost start to believe it.

Just south of a London where everything always seems bigger and more booming than everywhere else, a vivid Wimbledon will have Nadal as a No. 5 seed.

This, of course, is fair, and this, of course, is absurd.

It's fair because the rankings work on a 12-month rotation and Nadal did take seven months off during the last 12 months. In his typical display of selfless manners, Nadal said, "It is completely fair that I am number five and David [Ferrer] is number four. That's it."

And it's absurd because, well . . .

Nadal, seeded fifth . . .

You'd think Wimbledon might have tinkered with that and bucked the rankings (as is its prerogative), but maybe it's intriguing to have a radioactive No. 5 seed whose name shouts from down the ranks, a two-time champion and 12-time Grand Slam champion capable of crashing through the whole thing and doling out No. 1-style stompings. That can be curious, you know, just so long as the draw cooperates.



On any list of the necessary evils of sports, you'd have to include draws.

Each year in March, we bemoan them as a national tradition, with the West Regional deemed the dreck draw this year (a notion Wichita State fought valiantly to debunk). This spring-summer in tennis, draws have reared their chancy heads again, bollixing matters.

At the French Open, the draw spat out No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic and No. 3 seed Nadal for a semifinal rather than a final, a matter dissatisfying to absolutely everyone on the premises plus all TV viewers around the 24 time zones. The two played merely one of the most impressive athletic competitions in the history of the world, and had it be . . . a semifinal. The final may have occurred, or they may have just handed Nadal the trophy already. Nobody knows for sure.

Now at Wimbledon, the draw has gone the other way and screwed it up again. On the 50-50 chance that the No. 1 seed (Djokovic) would play either the No. 3 or 4 seed in the semifinals, it went 1-3 in France, but goes 1-4 at Wimbledon when 1-3 would have been preferable only by about a million miles.

Can't we have mulligan draws?

Result: Of the four titans who have hogged all 14 Grand Slams in this decade, three of them wind up on one side of the draw. If seedings hold, Nadal and Roger Federer would meet in a quarterfinal and the winner would get 2012 runner-up and No. 3 seed Andy Murray in a semifinal, rather than Murray being over on the other side to play Djokovic.

Djokovic would get No. 4 seed Ferrer, an admirable grinder who has exacted every bit of his capability to access a wondrous consistency (12 straight Grand Slams with fourth round or better, seven with quarterfinal or better), yet whose capability falls shy of the big four, bless him. In Grand Slams he is 2-3 against Nadal (but with Ferrer's only win since 2005 coming against an infirm Nadal at the 2011 Australian), 0-5 against Djokovic, 1-2 against Murray and 0-0 against Federer.

As a sidelight, Ferrer's 0-14 against Federer, lifetime.

Well, don't sneer.

You would be, too.

An optimist might say we have the first gathering of the four titans since Wimbledon 2012, and a pessimist might say it's a shame three of them got shoveled into one side of the draw.

Actually, an optimist might say that as well.

At least the men's final might soar, even if it might not be as curious as a women's final of the Nos. 1 and 3 seeds.

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, pictured after Williams defeated Sharapova in the finals of the French Open, have been engaging in off-the-court hostilities prior to Wimbledon. (Getty Images)

Still, while this pre-Wimbledon exchange between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova might seem merely gossipy, it might just have its instructional value in life.

When we watch Williams, we see a competitor so formidable, so impressive in drive and brains, so able to snare the pivotal point when cornered, that we might forget there's a human in there with all the blood and wiring within.

That's why Williams' apparent snipe at Sharapova in Rolling Stone, and its reference to Sharapova's boyfriend, the 22-year-old Bulgarian hotshot Grigor Dimitrov, called to mind something revealing Williams said in 2009.

In Rolling Stone Williams, referring to a top-five player presumed by others (including Sharapova) to be Sharapova, said: "She begins every interview with, 'I'm so happy, I'm so lucky' - it's so boring. She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it."

At Wimbledon on Saturday, Sharapova said, "If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids. Talk about other things, but not draw attention to other things. She has so much in her life more positive, and I think that's what it should be about."

So, to keep score here, educated observers think Williams referred to Dimitrov as the "black heart" because he may have scarred her heart, and know Sharapova referred to Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams' coach-and-likely-more.

If we strive to learn something here, this could come as an always-helpful reminder that these are people, with real-people issues, as Williams elucidated one day in 2009 in a meeting at Wimbledon with four American reporters. "They see me like Superwoman," she said, but soon added, "Actually, I suffer a little bit from LSE [low self-esteem]. I'm a bit insecure and I'm working on it . . . A lot of females that are in a position where they're really successful might just go home and be a little insecure."

It's one of the most revealing things I've ever heard her say, and it conjures the long, stormy relationship between men and successful women, a subject that could busy academia. But as for a whip-smart, worldly woman of 31 using a phrase like "the cool parties," though, well, there's no explanation for that.