Over the years, women’s tennis has very much evolved into a competition between the Top 20 players, and champions are rotating on a regular basis.
Women’s tennis has not always been a contest between so many different players as it is now. Previous eras have shown us a side of the women’s competition that largely resembles the current men’s circuit. Players like Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, and Steffi Graf would dominate the competition in a similar fashion to the ATP’s ‘Big 3’ and win the majority of Grand Slams. More recently, Serena Williams and even Venus Williams to a degree have proved to be dominant forces in the modern era by reaching similar heights to the previous legends of the sport.
Women’s tennis has changed
There’s no doubt that the occurrence of dominant champions like those mentioned above has started to diminish and is becoming a rarity in the world of women’s tennis. As the Williams sisters’ edge closer to retirement, the curtains begin to close on the last era of dominance that we may see for a long time. Since their reign has died down, our best hope of seeing a women’s champion obliterate the competition may have been Ashleigh Barty. The Aussie’s early retirement at age 25 and career finish as world No.1 had ended any speculation for a new “GOAT-level” champion to exert dominance on the WTA Tour any time soon.
Despite spending a total of 121 weeks at the top of women’s tennis, Ash Barty’s career had ended with just three Grand Slam titles to her name. This number had the potential to increase drastically for sure, but there’s no guarantee Barty would have reached the same heights in terms of championship titles as the likes of Margaret Court or Serena Williams. Indeed, it will likely take a decade or two from now for enough seasons of tennis to have passed before we can determine a player who could really engrave their name into the era.
For better or for worse?
Depending on what type of tennis fan you are, you may find yourself enjoying the current women’s tennis competition more than the previous generations of one-sided dominance. The lack of a concrete defending champion or “GOAT” so to speak creates an air of mystery on the WTA Tour. As such, it can be significantly more unpredictable as critics and fans are less likely to be accurate with their predictions as with men’s tennis. For this reason, it comes as no surprise that many fans around the world are more interested and invested in women’s tennis as there is a greater pool of potential champions to keep things fresh and exciting.
On the other hand, the inconsistent nature of the WTA competition can make it hard to get behind a player without being disappointed sooner or later. Essentially, no matter who you decide to back as your favorite player, you would have to expect them to go through slumps, drops in form, and ultimately more losses and early-round exits. Contrastingly, it is far easier to get behind champions like Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal on the men’s circuit and be rewarded for your “emotional investment” per se without too many unfavorable outcomes. In truth, the era of the ‘Big 3’ and the Williams sisters have brought forth a myriad of tennis fans worldwide that are more invested in the journeys of their favorite champions than the sport itself. Naturally, the “open contest” nature of the current WTA Tour has caused disinterest among such fans who are searching for that next historical journey to follow.
Personally, I find it easy to enjoy both sides of the coin. Whether the competition is full of 20 plus potential winners or just a handful of recurring champions, there is a unique beauty that comes about both situations. Fundamentally, it comes down to this. When the contest is unpredictable and open to anybody, the excitement of seeing who can become that next dominant player starts to spread like wildfire. Currently, all eyes are on the world No.1 Iga Swiatek who is producing incredible results while gradually building towards that “untouchable” status.
On the other hand, one of the things that makes a one-sided competition so exciting is the suspense of who and at what point someone will rise up to dethrone a reigning champion that dominates the era. In the men’s tennis world, we are seeing this phenomenon occur to a degree now as Carlos Alcaraz is rapidly rising through the ranks and snatching huge wins over members of the ‘Big 3.’ Thus, it could be said that a part of what makes both men’s and women’s tennis equally as exciting is the suspense, speculation, and predictions that go into it as we await the disruptors who will change the trajectory of the competition and bring about a new age for the sport.
Glad this article was written. I prefer to see the competition unpredictable. Although mens tennis has wittnessed an era of 3 GOATs, it wasn’t as interesting as the recent change in the womens where the last 20 granslams have been won by so many different players. It is so refreshing. Great to see many different personalities.