2019 French Open Review: Women’s Singles

Ashleigh Barty French Open final

The French Open ended just over a week ago. Have you already forgotten what happened? Did you somehow miss it entirely? Do not worry! Here is a recap of the key events in the Women’s singles and what it means heading into Wimbledon.

 Osaka retains No.1 but loses Grand Slam win streak

Japan’s Naomi Osaka kept the No. 1 ranking after Czech 2nd seed Karolína Plíšková lost in the 3rd round to Croatian 31st seed Petra Martić. German No.5 seed Angelique Kerber, Dutch No.4 seed Kiki Bertens, and Czech No.6 seed Petra Kvitová were also in the running for the No.1 ranking at the start of the tournament, but none of them made it past the 2nd round due to untimely injury issues.

Though she retained her ranking, Osaka’s streak of 16 consecutive wins at Grand Slam level ended when she lost to unseeded Czech Kateřina Siniaková in the 3rd round. This tournament once again showed that we will not see the best of Osaka as long as she holds the No.1 ranking. She has yet to win a title being in the top spot (or even reach a final), and therefore I see little chance of her winning Wimbledon this year.

 Serena’s quest for No.24 goes on 

American 10th seed Serena Williams was trying to match Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, but lost in the 3rd round to unseeded fellow American Sofia Kenin. This was a shocking loss, especially given the crowd were on her side due to Kenin’s unlikeable personality. Perhaps her off-court feud with Dominic Thiem after her defeat can inspire her at Wimbledon because, at present, her ever getting to #24 seems doubtful.

 Defending champion Halep loses to 17-year old 

Romanian 3rd seed Simona Halep was the defending champion, but lost to unseeded American Amanda Anisimova in the quarterfinals. With her run, Anisimova became the 1st player, male or female, born in the 21st century to reach the semifinal of a Grand Slam. This was a missed opportunity for Halep to get her second Grand Slam, but to be honest she seems very content with her career since finally winning a Slam. The WTA is wide open enough for her to win Wimbledon; it is just a question of if the hunger is still there.

 A semifinal line-up nobody predicted 

For the first time at a Major since the 1978 Australian Open, none of the semifinalists had previously reached a Grand Slam singles final, highlighting the inconsistency of the WTA Tour. Of the four semifinalists, only Britain’s No.26 seed Johanna Konta had previously reached a Grand Slam singles semifinal.

This last four line-up was disappointing and exposed the dark times that women’s tennis is currently going through. Thankfully, the Phillipe Chatrier crowd did not have to witness either of these low-quality messy matches, as they got shifted to Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu courts due to a back log of matches arising from poor weather. The unpredictability in the WTA right now explains why interest in women’s tennis is in decline. There are few storylines in the sport to follow or players to get behind since so few players can be relied on to go deep in consecutive Grand Slams. At this rate, the only direction the WTA can go at Wimbledon is up!

Barty wins 1st Grand Slam title! 

Australian No.8 seed Ashleigh Barty won her 1st Grand Slam singles title, defeating unseeded Czech Markéta Vondroušová in the final, 6–1 6–3. Barty was the first Australian player, male or female, to win a French Open singles title since Margaret Court in 1973. Vondroušová was the first teenager to reach a French Open women’s singles final since Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic did so in 2007, and the first to reach a Grand Slam women’s singles final since of any kind since Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki at the 2009 US Open.

This final was a fitting way to end what was a catastrophic tournament for the women. The crowd were flat throughout, with the final having the vibe of a second-round match on an outside court. On a positive note, Barty winning the tournament offered some form of damage limitation to the WTA’s reputation, given she was a Top 10 seed and is from a Grand Slam nation. In addition, her star quality stemmed from her interesting game and big personality might be what is needed to save women’s tennis from its current depressed state. Let’s hope she can back it up with a good performance at Wimbledon, on her preferred grass surface.

Overall this was a French Open to forget for the WTA. However, many current WTA players perform their best when there are low expectations. Expectations for many of them couldn’t be lower right now, so fingers crossed Wimbledon turns out to be an iconic edition of the Championships!

Main Photo from Getty