When we watch the greatest athletes of all time achieve such high success on the biggest stages in the world, they seem immortal. Watching these athletes dominate the pinnacle of their respective sports is something that seems everlasting. Unfortunately, there is always an end to an all-time great’s career, and for Serena Williams, that time is now.
Williams dominated the WTA Tour for two decades, setting countless records while cementing her place among the greatest athletes of all time. With that said, Williams’ reach stretches far beyond the tennis court. The 23x Grand Slam champion is a spokesperson for many companies including Gatorade, Intel, JPMorgan, and Nike. She is also said to own roughly a .5 percent stake in the Miami Dolphins. Williams has 15.2 million followers on Instagram, 10.7 million on Twitter, and 7.4 million on Facebook.
Williams is far and away the most recognizable women’s tennis player of all time. Although we will likely never again see a women’s tennis player as dominant as Williams, tournaments will still be played and winners will be crowned. Here are three players who could potentially fill the massive void Williams will leave with her departure from the WTA Tour.
Three Players Who Could Fill Serena Williams’ Void
18-year-old American Coco Gauff is currently the #12 ranked player in the world. Turning pro at the age of 14, Gauff has seemingly grown up in the spotlight of fans and pundits. The transition from Williams to Gauff almost seems too perfect. The young American grew up idolizing Williams, and as she has progressed in her career, her game strongly resembles the 23x Grand Slam Champion. Gauff, like her predecessor, is an aggressive baseliner who enjoys bullying her opponents around the court. She is consistent and powerful off of both wings. The 18-year-old is also very comfortable at the net, as shown by her current word #1 doubles ranking.
If it seems like you have been watching Coco Gauff for years, it’s because you have. With that said, she is still only 18 years old. Gauff has already reached a Grand Slam final and is on pace to play in her first WTA Finals this fall. Gauff’s personality is just as strong as her forehand. She is a delight in post-match interviews and always gives her fans the time of day after matches. Gauff has the personality, talent, and backing from the WTA to become the next globally marketable star in women’s tennis.
Former-world #1 Naomi Osaka has been one of the most polarizing figures in women’s tennis over the past few years. The 24-year-old has already won four Grand Slam titles and has held the world’s #1 ranking for 25 weeks. With that said, the past few seasons of tennis for Osaka have been challenged by mental health struggles that she has been very open about. The 24-year-old has as much raw talent as anyone in the sport but will need to fully recommit to the game if she wants to find the form she once held. Osaka is just 1-5 in her previous six matches ahead of the final Slam of the season.
Osaka has proven she will never sacrifice who she is just to be atop the world of women’s tennis. However, I do believe there is a sweet spot she can find to balance all of her passions with her profession to return to the top of the WTA rankings. Regardless, the popularity Osaka holds will not go away any time soon. Whether she is ranked #1 in the world or #100, people will tune into her matches.
21-year-old Iga Swiatek is currently the #1 ranked player in the world. Swiatek is not a polarizing figure. Her matches are not filled with scream-ladened antics, nor are her press conferences filled with brash and newsworthy comments. The young Pole puts her head down off of the court and absolutely dominates her competition on it.
Swiatek has already captured two Grand Slams titles in her young career. She has nine total titles, pairing those Grand Slam victories with five WTA 1000 titles. From late February until the third round of Wimbledon this year the Pole did not lose a match. In fact, she only dropped seven sets during her 37-match win streak. It was the longest winning streak since Martina Hingis rattled off 37 straight wins of her own back in 1997.
Although Swiatek is not a very vocal player, her absolute domination of her opponents is reason enough to watch her every time she takes the court. She plays an offensive style of tennis that is very enjoyable for viewers. Swiatek’s combination of power and precision is unmatched by anyone else on tour. At just 21-years-of-age, it is very well within reason to believe that Swiatek will be one of the best women’s tennis players of the next decade.
Other players to keep in mind: Emma Raducanu (age 19), Clara Tauson (age 19), Amanda Anisimova (age 21), Elena Rybakina (age 23), Paula Badosa (age 24).
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