Of late, women tennis has been witnessing a rather lackluster period even as men’s tennis keeps spectators enthralled. There are new names of women tennis players surfacing at each tennis tournament.
But hardly any of them has managed to find a place in the hearts of people like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka.
That is because these top players were not only well dressed and good looking; they were also consistent in their games. Unlike them, the younger players seem to disappear after a brief sparkle making it easier for fans to forget them.
Serena Williams has been the undisputed queen for almost two decades from 2002. But because she started her professional tennis career in the 1990s, she seems to have become an inseparable part of Grand Slams.
Back then, she was in shadows of her older sister, Venus Williams before overtaking her and overtaking spectacularly. She has acquired such larger than life aura in Women’s tennis for her wins in singles that people forget she has won many doubles, Olympic gold in singles and doubles and mixed doubles grand slam events as well.
Indeed her 39 titles in Grand Slams have mesmerized the crowd with both power and skill that are unprecedented. Serena took a sabbatical in 2017 to give birth to her baby and has yet to find her form in 2018.
Azarenka too took a break in 2016 and is returning for the second innings after giving birth to her baby. Therefore, spectators would be keener to see who of these two is likely to be around for long.
Sharapova`s Forced Break From Tennis
But the most tragic case is perhaps that of Maria Sharapova. She too has been around for over 12 years now. Sharapova is now famous for having failed drug test, because of which she was suspended from playing for 15 months.
She resumed her course in 2017 but has yet to reach the heights she did prior to 2016. But being younger than Williams, she may be around for longer and succeed over her other contemporaries.
Like Serena, Victoria Azarenka, the player from Belarus captivated the hearts of tennis spectators, even though she does not have the enviable record of Williams. However, if there is any person likely to halt Williams winning streak, it is Azarenka.
Serena Williams has won 17 times against Azarenka, but Azarenka has 4 wins to her credit, which in itself is a record achievement considering that Serena has not been easy to defeat.
The biggest advantage that Azarenka has is that she is 28 years old, while Serena is 36 years old. There were other players like Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic. They are all younger than Serena but over the years their game never kept pace with that of Serena, making the head to head tally nothing to write home about.
It is commendable that Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are returning after becoming mothers to compete with youngsters who have remained in the circuit in their absence.
It is also commendable that Sharapova has not resigned to her fate, which admittedly was not due to her fault. There is something about women’s tennis that speaks of indomitable spirit, with likes of Monica Seles having tried to return after combating depression and injury through no fault of hers.
But there are not many like Kim Clijsters and both Williams and Azarenka would be aware of it.
The bevy of younger players that around include Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Eugenie Bouchard, Johanna Konta, Madison Keys, and Sloane Stephens.
While players like Radwanska and Kuznetsova have been around for long enough, they do not have the fan following that Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova have. Williams, Azarenka, and Sharapova have a charisma, along with remarkable agility, power, skill, and choice of shots and service.
There is also a commercial reason to be concerned about this division of attention among so many new players because fans tend to buy women tennis apparel based on the player they like.
With no specific woman tennis player to focus upon, sports goods industry, as well as sponsors and advertisers, are in dilemma and I have a feeling Nike is affected the most as all three women wear Nikewomen Tennis apparel( check more on tennis apparel here)
The trend is unlike that in the past when Steffi Graff reigned for a reasonable period, and prior to that, it was Martina Navratilova. Perhaps the contemporary machines have helped the women tennis players to reach a level of sports efficiency that cannot be surpassed or has plateaued and most of the contemporary players randomly reach that peak.
Whatever be the reason, there is a period of lull in women’s tennis, which also makes it difficult also to sell the tickets at a premium as in the past.
There may also be a drop in TRP ratings unless Williams, Sharapova, or Azarenka return to the scene with a bang. The endorsers want to start selling, in any sporting event, if your top 3 players are out for an extended period of time, the sales sure drop.
Let me hear what you think.