Jelena Ostapenko is a much-needed addition to the WTA Tour severely lacking in star power. It is so refreshing to see a female player who can back up her attitude by winning a big title. It is not too shocking to see random players reach the semifinal or final of any tournament in women’s tennis now due to the unreliability of current top players, but only those with champion spirit can actually win them. This is something Ostapenko proved she possesses, especially since she is only the second female player (after Navratilova) to win their maiden Grand Slam final from a set down. Ostapenko’s win is the best way to troll the WTA Tour in arguably its weakest period in its history, with the reasoning explained below.
Awful French Open record
In her three previous French Open appearances, Ostapenko had not won a single match, losing in the 1st Round of the Girl’s Singles in 2014, Women’s Singles Qualifying in 2015, and Women’s Singles in 2016. For a player to win at a Grand Slam where they have never won a match of any kind previously is a testament to the current state of the WTA.
Ostapenko had never even won a single WTA tournament at any level and had only once gone past the 2nd Round of a Grand Slam previously, at the 2017 Australian Open. Something like this has not occurred in tennis since Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open in 1987, coincidentally on the day Ostapenko was born.
Unpopularity on the WTA Tour
After her infamous bust-up with Naomi Broady in Auckland in 2016, she became very unpopular amongst the tour with players speaking up on Twitter about her bad attitude. Her reputation clearly has not improved as not a single active player congratulated her on Twitter. The only interaction was from Daria Gavrilova, who seemed more in shock than of praise for Ostapenko. (However, it should be noted that there are claims that several players did text her congratulations.)
Rather funnily, Naomi Broady lost in the quarter-finals of an ITF event in Surbiton on the day before the French Open final, showing the direction her career is heading. The fact no active players took to social media to congratulate Ostapenko highlights their bitterness about her victory, unsurprisingly since seven of the Top 10 on the June 12th rankings are still Slamless. This was a great way for Ostapenko to personally troll the WTA Tour as she showed that she doesn’t need to be popular to be successful.
A game with many weaknesses
Whilst Ostapenko is a great ball striker, her game still possesses many weaknesses. Her backhand severely can break down quite easily in a match and become very error-prone. She also does not possess a great serve, with her second serve being an extremely obvious weakness in her game. In addition, other than her powerful strokes, there are not many aspects to her game–meaning that she lacks a Plan B if things are not going her way. For someone with these flaws, being able to win a Grand Slam at the age of 20 raises serious concerns about future prospects for the women’s game and so it was a great way to troll the WTA and highlight its weaknesses.
Overall, I do hope that Jelena Ostapenko can prove me wrong and can win more big tournaments as we will need a new star of women’s tennis after the Williams Sisters and Sharapova eventually hang up their rackets. However, I will be extremely surprised if this is the case. In fact, I predict that she will not win more than one more Grand Slam by the end of 2019 and I will not be surprised in the slightest if she returns to her ranking before the tournament of No.47 after the conclusion of next year’s French Open.