In complete contrast to the events around the ATP Tour circuit where the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still dominating the Grand Slams, the major tournaments and the rankings the WTA Tour wear an open look. Almost every week a new No1 emerges in the rankings, players climb and slip in the rankings as a matter of routine and tournaments are won by different players.
This has been the case ever since Serena Williams’ dominance ended a couple of years ago. Since her pregnancy and the birth of her child she has played only sporadically in tournaments. It speaks volumes of her durability and fighting qualities that at 37 she reached the final at Wimbledon and the US Open last year and is still No 11 in the rankings. But the last time Serena won a Grand Slam was at the Australian Open in 2017. There is no denying that her fortunes are finally on the decline and one is not sure whether she will achieve her lifelong ambition of equaling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slams (at the moment she is one short).
For long in the shadow of the great lady the current crop of top players are a mixture of the young and the experienced. But what is clear is that there is no dominant figure in women’s tennis which has been the case over the last half a century. The 60s and 70s was the era of Margaret Court and Billie Jean King. Then came the duo of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova who dominated the 70s and 80s. Thereafter it was the turn of Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Martina Hingis in the 80s and 90s while the Williams sisters Venus and Serena were the dominant players in the new millennium. All of them won multiple Grand Slam titles besides being ranked No 1 over an extended period.
Nothing like that can be said about the leading stars of today and the honours have really been spread around. Players like the current No 1 Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki have either won a Grand Slam event or been No 1 in the rankings. But newer and newer players are coming up and the latest is Ashleigh Barty who has just won the French Open against all expectations. This has propelled the 23-year-old Australian to the No 2 slot in the rankings. Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands too has been making waves of late and is perched at No 4. It is almost like anyone in the top ten could win a Grand Slam and anyone in the top ten could rise to No 1 in the rankings.