We Need More Exciting Tennis

This teaser on the front page of the New York Times tells the story of the current state of women’s tennis:

The winner of the French Open was a woman who gave up the sport a few years ago and is currently ranked #8. The runner-up was a woman ranked #38. Aside from Barty, none of the top twenty seeds even made it to the semifinals.

Serena Williams is 37 and still recovering from childbirth. She’s not playing at the heights she used to and is obviously nearing the end of her career. But no one seems to want to take her place. Here are the winners of the women’s slam titles since 2017:

  • Serena Williams
  • Jeļena Ostapenko
  • Garbiñe Muguruza
  • Sloane Stephens
  • Caroline Wozniacki
  • Simona Halep
  • Angelique Kerber
  • Naomi Osaka
  • Naomi Osaka
  • Ashleigh Barty

Naomi Osaka has won twice, and that’s it. She lost in this year’s French Open in the third round. No other woman has won multiple majors since 2017, and even if you go back to 2013 you’ll find only two more aside from Williams (Kerber and Muguruza). It’s not clear if nobody has the talent, or if nobody has the will, but either way there’s nobody who seems like even a remote candidate for future induction into the Hall of Fame.

In a way, I suppose this isn’t surprising. In tennis generally, but especially on the women’s side, everyone plays the exact same game: a big, baseline, power game. There are still a few serve-and-volleyers among the men, but not the women. Nor does anyone play the angles or try to win on consistency or cunning. They just pound the ball from the backcourt, and it’s hard to put together a string of victories when you’re playing the same game as all your competitors. Williams did it by being a better pure athlete than anyone else, but people like that don’t come along very often.

I know that not everyone agrees about this, but it feels to me as if women’s tennis has become sort of gray and monotonous. There’s no clash of styles and no one who seems able to win more than a major or two. It’s kind of dull these days.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate