What Does The Future Hold For Women’s Tennis?
There’s a lot of conjecture at the moment surrounding the state of women’s tennis. A lot of people seem to be of the opinion that the sudden rise of players outside the top ten to the finals of major tournaments is an indication that the real big hitters are taking turns of underachievement.
The recent French Open saw both evidence of this and evidence of the contrary. While Sara Errani defied all expectations and reached the French Open final, the Italian was joined there by Maria Sharapova who came out on top and thereby secured a career Grand Slam.
Sharapova’s achievement is a clear example of one of women’s tennis’s biggest stars consolidating her position as a true legend of the sport. However, Errani’s achievement is perhaps an example of the continued trend for the women’s top ten to change frequently and for the top players to fail to get a stranglehold in the manner of the top men in the game.
The element of surprise
The men’s top four has included the same four players in various arrangements for a number of years now and this stability at the top is seen as a major source of excitement by most fans of the men’s game. The best players are consistently competing against one another for the major honours in finals.
The women’s game is much less predictable. We’ve seen the likes of Schiavona, Kvitova, Li and Stosur win Grand Slam competitions in recent years without building on those successes in order to cement their positions at the top of the game. Sharapova returned from a period of exile to dominate once again while the Williams sisters have disappointed of late.
In the past, the Williams sisters and others have slightly skewed the rankings by taking part in very few tournaments but performing extremely well in them, leading to a strange distribution of talent in the top ten that does not necessarily see the best at the summit, and that as result arranges the draws for majors in a manner that doesn’t see the best of the best compete with one another in the finals of the majors.
The nature of entertainment
It is hard to say what makes for the more exciting tournaments: those that always culminate in finals contested by the same set of leaders, as in the men’s game with the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray; or those that more often than not spring a few surprises, as in the current women’s game.
What’s more important: consistent quality and lasting rivalries, or unpredictability and storytelling? Feel free to get involved in the debate.
Isabel Adams has an interest in women’s tennis, writing articles on behalf of Neill Newport.