A change of guard in Women's Tennis as the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova reach fag end of glittering careers
Women’s tennis is witnessing a very interesting phase as the seasoned campaigners are battling with age and the emerging crop is taking over from the big guns to stake claim as the champions for the future.
If we look back into the history of Grand Slams, there have been two or three players who dominated the sport in a particular decade. However, the last five years have seen a plethora of young talent emerge on the scene and break the long-standing dominance of former multiple Grand Slam champs such as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
In the 70s, it was Chris Evert Lloyd, Billie Jean King and Margaret Court who ruled the roost winning 24 of the 40 Grand Slam titles between them. The 80s was all about Martina Navratilova’s stiff rivalry with the graceful Chris Evert Lloyd at winning Grand Slams. While the legendary Navratilova was the dominant player of the decade winning 15 singles titles, Evert stood a second-best clinching 8 titles. Meanwhile, Germany’s Steffi Graf became a force to reckon with, having won 8 titles.
In the 90s, Steffi Graf became the undisputed Queen of Grand Slams winning a staggering 14 titles. The German was pushed to the hilt by her fierce competitor Monica Seles who racked up 9 titles. 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis was an emerging force on the big stage winning 5 slams. Spain’s clay court specialist Sanchez Vicario managed to add three titles to her kitty. Meanwhile, Gabriela Sabatini, Conchita Martinez, Mary Pierce and Jana Novotna were the other major title contenders.
The turn of the new millennium saw the Williams sisters rise to prominence and become the runaway leader at Slams winning 17 titles between them. In the first half of 2000s, the Williams sisters were challenged by some world-class players such as Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati.
The Russians made an emphatic entry on the tour led by power hitters such as Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova and Dinara Safina, all of whom were formidable opponents to the William sisters.
Then came along the Belgian duo of Justin Henin and Kim Clijsters who won a couple of Slams, ending the hegemony of the Williams sisters. The Serbians also took center stage with Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic making impressive runs at Grand Slams.
The last decade has seen the old warhorse Serena Williams get back to the top of the women’s game adding a staggering 12 more slams to her kitty. Besides Serena, there hasn’t been anyone else who has been a consistent title contender at the four major events. We had multiple grand slam champs with Francesca Schiavone, Samantha Stosur, Li Na, Marion Bartoli, Flavia Pennetta, Jeļena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens winning a title or two.
With Serena, Venus and Sharapova at the fag end of their glittering careers and Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and Samantha Stosur nearing their 30s, a new crop of players have shown the pedigree to win at the big stage. With the lack of a dominant champion, the ladies singles stage has become more competitive and open with a string of talented players posing a serious challenge.
In recent years, the change of guard at the top seems inevitable with Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber winning two Slams each. So the race is wide open and some of the top women players who can go onto win Grand Slams are Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Jeļena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Elina Svitolina.
Which female tennis player do you think has the calibre to dominate the courts in the near future? Tell us in the comments below!