Big names fall in the Ladies draw at The Championships, with the game’s struggles without Serena Williams clear to see.
Women’s tennis, a real enigma. Sadly, it has always played second fiddle to the men’s game due to professionalism, pay, and of late, quality on the court. It has been great to see that the best games thus far at Wimbledon have come from the ladies’ draw, but there is a fear that we may already seen the best of the fortnight, with many big names falling in the opening two rounds.
Although nine of the top 10 sides remain in the ladies’ draw, with no Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova this year, the tournament needed plenty of the big names to go deep into the tournament. But former world number ones Petra Kvitova and Jelena Jankovic have fallen early, with Eugenie Bouchard and tournament favourite Karolina Pliskova already out of the tournament before the third round.
We are only on day four of the tournament so there is no need to panic with the likes of Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki, Jo Konta and Venus Williams still fighting for the trophy. However, Venus aside, the other four have never won a Grand Slam on the grass. Kerber and number two seed Halep have two slams apiece, with former world number one Wozniacki and home favourite Konta still searching for their first major titles.
With the crowd behind her, many bookies are making Konta the new favourite for the title, but the 26-year-old has only reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam once. She is playing incredibly well, defeating Donna Vekic 10-8 in the third set in the game of the tournament so far, and got the better of number one seed Angelique Kerber at Eastbourne. A serious injury scare in that match put question marks over Wimbledon fortnight, but she looked trouble free in her opening two encounters.
Konta’s main contender for Wimbledon this year will be the evergreen Venus Williams. With sister Serena taking a break from the game to have a family, Venus is back in the spotlight and in the hunt for a sixth Wimbledon crown. With Williams surrounded by reports of a car crash last month that killed a 78-year-old, it is will be difficult to concentrate just on her tennis for the rest of the tournament. Venus, now 37, struggled to hold back the tears regarding the subject following her opening round win over Elise Mertens.
The hunger is clearly still there for Venus but without her former contemporaries, she may find it difficult to reach the top of her game. Last decade we had the likes of Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo pushing the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova. The game hasn’t had a rivalry since Sharapova and Serena in the late 2000s and early 2010s, whereas the men’s game had the classic Federer-Nadal battle, which is arguably still going on.
In order to get more girls in the game, the standard of the women’s game simply needs to improve. In other sports it would be great if anyone could beat anyone, but it happens far too often in women’s tennis, and in an individual sport you need the big names winning regularly.
With Serena, Venus and probably Sharapova in the twilight of their careers for different reasons, women’s tennis need new players to step up to the top of the game, and to go on and win Grand Slams. Wimbledon creates that opportunity whether it be Errani, Kerber or Konta who wins a maiden Wimbledon crown, they need to take advantage of it and spur them on to more Slam titles.