Why Emma Navarro’s Rise is Great For Women’s Tennis

Emma Navarro Wimbledon

Emma Navarro was already enjoying an excellent season before Wimbledon began. The 23-year-old won her first title in Hobart and had a breakthrough at the French Open by reaching the fourth-round. Despite this, not many tipped her for a deep run at Wimbledon, due to her lack of experience on grass. However, she is now into her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal after overcoming the US Open champion Coco Gauff in London. Navarro also defeated four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka in the second round. Her improving results this year indicate that she will be near the top of the women’s game for a long time. However, there are other reasons why Navarro’s rise is positive for women’s tennis.

Why Emma Navarro’s Rise is Great For Women’s Tennis

Navarro’s Entertaining and Unique Playing Style

There has been a clear shift in the style of men’s and women’s tennis in the last twenty years. Much more emphasis is now placed on baseline hitting, with most players trying to overpower their opponents. There are certainly variations of that at the top of the women’s game. For instance, French Open champion Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff can also rely on their outstanding athleticism more than other players, although they also try and dominate with power from the baseline in their matches.

By contrast, Navarro is not a player who possesses blistering power. She is still capable of stepping into the court and hitting through the ball, but the Hobart International champion cannot rely on that as much as other players. The American compensates for that with other qualities. She hits her forehand with heavy topspin to push her opponents back in the court, making it hard to strike through her. In addition, Navarro regularly changes the pace of the rallies with her backhand slice or by using her very effective drop shot. The 23-year-old also regularly plays doubles matches, which has made her very adept at the net.

A final strength of Navarro’s is the excellent accuracy of her groundstrokes. That was proven against Gauff at Wimbledon, where she relentlessly targeted her compatriot’s weaker forehand. All those skills mean Navarro possesses a very complete game that is filled with variety. Although women’s tennis as a whole is entertaining and in a great place, having different styles is good for the sport. The Wimbledon quarterfinalist being an alternative to consistent powerful hitting achieves that.

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Navarro’s Ice-Cool Personality

It is rare to find players nowadays with the Bjorn Borg style of staying totally calm for entire matches. Some players like Aryna Sabalenka or 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko regularly show their emotions throughout a match. Others like Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff stay calm for the majority of their battles but will often let their feelings out after succeeding or struggling during important moments.

Navarro has already become well-known for how remarkably composed she stays during her matches. 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina is the closest comparison, although even she can sometimes get into a back and forth with her more temperamental coach Stefano Vukov. The contrast between Navarro’s level-headed nature and her more emotional opponents is fun to watch. Neither approach is superior, in the same way there is nothing wrong with players using the aggressive baseline style that has become more common in tennis. But having such a variety in the sport is a positive development.

Navarro Proves That Players Can Become Professional Later and Still Succeed

Having talent at a young age can place a lot of stress on players. Some like Coco Gauff managed it well, but others have found it difficult in the past. That means turning professional right away is not always the best path for every player. For some, playing tennis in college to develop technically and emotionally is a better route. Navarro played at the University of Virginia from 2020-2022, which is also where Danielle Collins playing collegiate tennis almost a decade prior. As a freshman, she won the NCAA Championships singles title in 2021, which gave her a wild card into that year’s US Open. When Navarro left in June 2022 to pursue a professional career, she spoke about how the experience made her a better player and person.

Making aspiring players aware that there are different routes to success can be beneficial to their belief and well-being. Navarro’s journey to becoming a top professional player can act as a positive force for the next generation.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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