For so long Serena Williams has held the torch for women’s tennis. For more than 20 years, she and sister Venus were the champions of the ladies game.
Many others came and went as the Williams girls prevailed. But - out of the two - Serena emerged as the ‘unbeatable’ as she romped to 23 Grand Slam singles titles — a record in the Open era.
She has chased and failed to match Margaret Court’s all-time 24 and it looks like she never will. At the age of 39, Serena’s career is coming to an end and we are seeing a massive shift to the youngsters.
Do not get me wrong, Ash Barty, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep (hardly pensioners) and the like will certainly be in the mix for the next few seasons but the US Open and the Grand Slam events that preceded it this season have shown an open door to the likes of young pups Emma Raducanu (18), Coco Gauff (17), Leylah Fernandez (19) and Naomi Osaka (23).
Raducanu’s amazing run from the qualifiers to win the US Open crown at Flushing Meadows this past fortnight is the stuff off Hollywood. The 18-year-old’s defeated opponent Fernandez also enjoyed a dream journey. Coco and Osaka have brought a breath of fresh air over the past few seasons.
Osaka may have cracked the ceiling with her dramatic entrance on the scene against (who else?) Serena at the US Open in 2018 and has gone on to claim four Grand Slam titles. The 23-year-old ‘veteran’ really did open the door for the youngsters.
The quartet of Osaka, Raducanu, Fernandez and Gauff have a combined age less than that of the still-active Williams sisters.
It is time for the kids to take to the court and take the crown.