There is no greater feeling in competitive sports than beating one’s main competition. And when that competitor is someone you are heavily influenced by, it is equally thrilling and satisfying.
This year at the US Open tennis championship in New York, multiple teenage tennis stars challenged and took down veteran players, encouraging spectators to accept the fresh, changing face of women’s tennis, which allowed spectators to enjoy the games more and is necessary for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Returning champion Naomi Osaka was among three teenagers who traveled far in the tournament: Caty McNally (17), Coco Gauff (15) and 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu (19). Because these young players have watched Serena Williams, and her sister Venus play tennis for years, as former US professional tennis player Martin Blackman stated, “these women are used to a high bar set by Venus and Serena. [The young stars} see themselves at the top and they thrive on the positive peer pressure."
People speculated about Williams fitness level at Grand Slam tournament for the past two years since she has not won a major since giving birth to her daughter. Adding to the fire, Williams rolled her ankles in a match prior to the final, but seemed to recovery quickly after getting it compressed by the medical staff on the court right away. Photo credit: USA Today.
Their games, filled with different strengths and weaknesses, pose a threat to the veterans. The CP24, a media channel that follows Canadian athletes like Andreescu, points out that Andreescu’s playing style incorporates a variety of many shots. Unlike how Williams hits the ball flat, Andreescu’s forehand has more shape, and she enjoys hitting the shot on the run or from the middle of the court. She uses slices and dropshots to bring her opponents to the net - something Williams, as a baseline hitter, is uncomfortable with. Andreescu is comfortable running, and her youthful spunk and fitness allows her to move diagonally on the court. In doing so, she can adjust her feet quickly and, ultimately, hit the ball early.
This style of play, which incorporates baseline hitting as well as net and volleying, is more dynamic when compared to Williams’s static style, relying mostly on power groundstrokes. According to The Washington Post, Andreescu posted only 17 unforced errors during the match, almost half of Williams’ 33.
Detailed above are match stats from the Championship game at the 2019 US Open on Sept. 7. The game lasted one hour and 39 minutes, where Andreescu was victorious on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, New York. Infographic: Emma Dantas '21
The loss this September marks Williams’ fourth consecutive grand slam defeat, according to the New York Times. She has not won a major since her daughter was born. After giving birth Women’s tennis legend Kim Clijsters describes how “the core [and] lower back area that was always something that was very strong … yeah, it just goes.” Because Williams’ game heavily relies on her power play, the reduction of power has allowed for more competitive games against other women players. This has made games where Williams is competing more exciting to watch since she is forced to not rely on her destructive serve, which, according to Online Tennis Instruction, can dominate games, and instead is required to hit strategically placed shots against the young stars.
The game, specifically against Andreescu, was more dynamic with each player moving across the whole baseline and to the net. Additionally, the game incorporated longer rallies, which made it more enjoyable for spectators who have been used to seeing Williams overpower her opponent.
The new birth of well-rounded, fit young women who are comfortable moving and hitting a plethora of shots is giving way to new, young faces in the tennis world. While developing all their shots, McNally, Gauff and Andreescu will have a bright future ahead of them.
A resident of Canada, Andreescu, won the 2019 US Open Tennis Championship, marking her first win in a Grand Slam. With this showing and win in New York, her single ranking as moved up to fifth. Photo credit: Forbes