Martina Navratilova has revealed how she felt Belinda Bencic was going to become the "next big star" in women's tennis, referencing her win against Serena Williams in 2015. Navratilova also suggested some ways the Swiss could improve her game further heading into the 2022 season.
Bencic defeated Serena Williams, who was World No. 1 at the time, in the semifinals of the 2015 Rogers Cup in Toronto. She eventually went on to win her first WTA title. The then 18-year-old became the youngest female player to triumph in Canada. This was after Simona Halep retired with Bencic leading 3-0 in the deciding set of the final.
The World No. 23 defeated Marketa Vondrousova in three sets to claim the women's singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in July last year. The 24-year-old reached a career-high ranking of World No. 4 in February 2020 after coming back from having wrist surgery in 2017.
In an interview with the WTA Tour, Navratilova discussed how she thought Bencic was destined for the very top. This was especially after her triumph against Serena Williams in Toronto. She also identified hitting with more spin and adding power as adjustments the Swiss could try to make to develop her game even more.
"It seemed like she was going to be the next star; she beat Serena, when she was No.1," Navratilova said. "She’s had a lot of injuries and been inconsistent. Which is funny, because when she was playing well, she was so consistent. Could use a little more shape on the ball and become a stronger player. It makes everything so much easier."
Serena Williams to miss 2022 Australian Open; Belinda Bencic expected to play despite positive Covid-19 test
Serena Williams will not feature at the 2022 Australian Open as she continues her recovery from a hamstring injury. The 23-time Major champion has not competed since suffering the injury during her opening round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon in June.
Belinda Bencic, meanwhile, is planning to play at the year's first Grand Slam, which is set to begin on 17 January. The 24-year-old announced she had tested positive for Covid-19 last month. She revealed she was experiencing "quite severe symptoms."