There is no denying that Serena’s Williams’ fortunes are finally on the downslide. The great champion has reigned for so long at the top and with 23 Grand Slam singles titles she takes her place among the greatest to play the game but one is not sure whether she will achieve her lifetime ambition of equaling Australian Margaret Court’s all time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. She last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017 and then was runner up at Wimbledon and the US Open. At last month’s Australian Open however she went down to Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals and with the competition from the GenNext of players very strong even Serena could find it difficult to serve and volley her way back to the top. The 37-year-old is currently No 11 on the WTA rankings and that in itself is a tribute to her fighting qualities for she had slipped out of the top 100 after she missed a lot of tournaments following the birth of her child.

So perhaps it is time for the GenNext of players to stake their claim to reach the pedestal and symbolizing this was the crowning of the new world No 1 when the latest WTA rankings were released last week. Naomi Osaka took over at the top for the first time following her victory over Petra Kvitova in the Australian Open final on Saturday. The interesting point to note is that had Kvitova had won she would have been crowned the new world No 1. That’s the kind of competition currently on in the women’s section and any one of half a dozen players is capable of winning a Grand Slam or taking over at the top.

At the moment however it is Osaka’s moment to savour following her second successive Grand Slam triumph after she won the US Open last year. But she will have to be on her toes if she wants an extended run at the top. Simona Halep, the women Osaka dethroned, Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova besides Kvitova are all bunched together in the rankings and some of them are already Grand Slam winners. The tussle for top honours is bound to be extremely keen and interesting in 2019.

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