With Serena Williams coming back from giving birth and now 37 years old and Venus Williams a couple of years older there was a need for the next generation to come through in America. However, we may look back on 2019 as a breakthrough year for the upcoming rising stars in American women’s tennis with a number of young stars from the States reaching the round of 16 or better at Grand Slams.
The nine are: Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Danielle Collins, Amanda Anisimova, Alison Riske, Coco Gauff, Sofia Kenin, Kristie Ahn and Taylor Townsend. There is a contrast with some more experienced players there but also others who could make their mark in the next few years. Stephens is already a Slam champion, winning the US Open in 2017, also a French Open finalist in 2018.
Keys, who lost to Stephens in the 2017 final, has now reached the second week in seven of her last nine Slams. On the other hand, there is Townsend who has reached the round of 16 for the first time. She had an excellent junior career, winning three of four Slams in doubles as a junior as well as the Australian Open singles title. However since turned pro she has had trouble with injuries.
Perhaps the most exciting is Anisimova, although she is not competing at Flushing Meadows after a family tragedy. Only 18, she has reached the fourth round in Australia and her maiden semi-final at the French Open this year. She recorded impressive wins in both tournaments, beating world #11 Aryna Sabalenka at Roland Garros and Melbourne as well as then-defending champion Simona Halep in Paris.
This year has been impressive for Riske, Gauff, Kenin and Ahn who have all reached the fourth round of a Slam for the first time. Gauff is seen as a player with a stellar future ahead of her at just 15-years-old while Riske, at 29, had the best run of her career at Wimbledon. Ahn is an outlier due to her previous Slam history. Coming into Flushing Meadows, she had not competed at a Slam for 11 years and had never won a match. However, this run means she will enter the world’s top 100 for the first time.
Kenin also reached the fourth round at Roland Garros in May, scoring an victory over Serena Williams. She lost to Keys in New York this year but 2019 has seen her win her first WTA titles in Hobart and Mallorca.
This success for the women is the polar opposite of the men’s game. Americans used to be one of the dominant forces in the game with 27 Slam titles in 14 years from 1989. However, since Andy Roddick claimed his only Slam in front of his home crowd in 2003, no American man has won a major with only Roddick reaching another final.
They had a plethora of riches with Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi among others but since they retired five men in particular have taken over. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka have arguably taken the game to another level. Between them, they have claimed 60 of 65 Slams since Wimbledon 2003 and only two of 58 finals have not featured Federer, Nadal or Djokovic.
The Americans do have Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz coming through. Fritz won his first ATP Tour title at Eastbourne earlier this year but has yet to get past the third round of a slam. Tiafoe is ranked just outside the top 50 and has a promising future at only 21 but has only one Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance to his name. It will be interesting to see which of the women will follow Serena and Venus and become a star of the tennis circuit and whether the men’s barren run will finally end.
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