Few can query Serena Williams’ declare to the title of the best tennis participant of her era, and he or she did it with some model. Her dominance was unwavering all through her profession which noticed her win 23 Grand Slam titles and finish 5 years because the World No.1, however what was most outstanding was the consistency.
Within the upcoming weeks, forward of the Williams’ US Open swansong, a lot shall be manufactured from her legacy, on and off the court docket. And a defining side of that legacy, an everlasting reminder of her greatness, would be the consistency of her outcomes on tour.
By 2007, Williams had already received seven Majors – 4 in a row between 2002-03 – which might have put her amongst among the greats of the sport. However within the subsequent 12 years, the American didn’t fail to succeed in the ultimate of at the very least one Grand Slam. She was undoubtedly the very best participant on the tour, and he or she had the outcomes to indicate for it. The identical can’t be stated concerning the gamers lining as much as carry the US Open title subsequent week.
Have a good time greatness, honor a legacy and #TwirlForSerena.
Recreate @serenawilliams iconic celebration and use the hashtag to be featured in a worldwide tribute to a world famous person. pic.twitter.com/mDdJDoAwOa
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 27, 2022
Consistency has been rewarded on the ladies’s tour this 12 months. Iga Swiatek tops the listing for match wins in 2022, which noticed her 37-match profitable streak take 4 WTA 1000 titles and a second French Open crown. Simona Halep, again from harm purgatory underneath a brand new coach, is second. She opened the 12 months with a title, reached the semifinals in Wimbledon, and received her first hardcourt tile in 5 years on the WTA 1000 in Toronto this month.
Ons Jabeur, and Beatrice Haddad Maia are tied at third, and each produced their greatest on grass. Jabeur transformed by reaching last at Wimbledon, backing up titles in Madrid and Berlin, in addition to a last in Rome. In Cincinnati final week, Caroline Garcia turned the primary qualifier to win a WTA 1000 title. However the truth that she is fifth on this listing exhibits that the consequence was much less of a shock, and extra of a reward for her consistency.
Swiatek is now the undisputed World No.1, Jabeur and Halep have consolidated their locations within the prime 10, Haddad Maia has risen practically 70 locations within the rankings because the begin of the 12 months, and Garcia is just a few good outcomes away from qualifying for the year-end Championships. Regardless of the entire constant performances, the US Open feels extra open than ever.
The identical will be stated concerning the males – each pre-US Open Masters tournaments had been received by unseeded gamers – however in Rafael Nadal, who stays unbeaten on the Grand Slams this 12 months, there’s a clear favorite. In Carlos Alcaraz, there’s a teenage sensation to help, and in Daniil Medvedev, regardless of a poor run to the Open, there are expectations on the defending champion and World No. 1.
It is time. #USOpen pic.twitter.com/ZWlvWSMQZH
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 26, 2022
A lot of the unfairly perceived lack of high quality in girls’s tennis not too long ago has been as a result of frequent chaos within the Majors. Consistency could also be mirrored within the rankings, however there may be extra consideration and protection within the two-week interval of a Grand Slam – which was Williams’ area – than a lot of the 12 months mixed. The highest gamers haven’t capitalised on that focus.
Who after Serena?
Since 2020, seven completely different gamers have received the ten Grand Slams on the ladies’s tour. As compared, solely 4 have received on the lads’s aspect, and eight of these have been break up between Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The narrative round males’s tennis’ ‘Big 3’ isn’t primarily based on who wins probably the most titles, or who finishes probably the most years at No. 1. The Majors are what matter, and impartial followers tune in to observe the trio compete for them 12 months after 12 months.
There are a number of legitimate debates round males’s and ladies’s tennis: Greatest-of-five vs best-of-three, the massive variations in prize cash away from the Slams, the poor TV offers, how the ladies don’t get equal declare to the stage. However take out the Huge 3’s domination of the Majors and related chaos is more likely to ensue.
This 12 months’s US Open is more likely to be no completely different. A dozen completely different gamers might emerge as contenders, and there are not any clear favourites. Swiatek stands out as the prime seed, and however the mud has settled from her landmark summer time, and a lacklustre buildup, as nicely a tricky quarter that has former Slam champions like Petra Kvitova, and thrilling upstarts like Zhang Qinwen, might trigger issues.
Halep has been strong all 12 months, and with the Toronto title underneath her belt, confidence shall be excessive. However the thigh harm that saved her out of Cincinnati final week may shake issues up. She’s in the identical quarter as Garcia, who could also be within the type of her life, however there are query marks over her potential to deal with the stress on the massive stage.
Eyes are additionally on former champions Emma Raducanu, who continues to be in her first full 12 months on tour and has struggled to maintain up with the expectations which have adopted her since her fairytale triumph in New York final 12 months, and Naomi Osaka, who has not been the identical dominant drive she as soon as was on hardcourts since her break final 12 months to prioritise her psychological well being. They’re each in the identical quarter, alongside Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins, each of whom have a lot to show.
Williams’ farewell is probably going to usher in the crowds, the anticipation, and the eyeballs, and rightly so. Few can argue she transcended the game, and endlessly modified how girls athletes are perceived. The large query, nonetheless, stays who can usher the ladies’s sport into the following era?