Three grand slams have been played and we’ve got three different winners on the WTA circuit. Serena Williams at Australia, Jelena Ostapenko at Roland Garros and Garbine Muguruza at the just concluded Wimbledon grand slam. What’s more impressive is that two of those winners are in their early twenties and could represent the next dominant guard in women’s tennis.
This is a completely different situation to what’s happening on the ATP circuit. While Venus Williams has carried on the march of the 30-somethings – she’s made two grand slam finals this year – the 20-somethings have begun to carve out more real estate for themselves, thus ushering the WTA into what could be a transitional period. While Angelique Kerber is 29, I am excluding her from this conversation for the simple reason that she’s still considered a late bloomer and as recent results have shown, might not dominate the tour for a while.
Besides, the two ladies I’ve mentioned have something Kerber doesn’t apart from age and time. Firepower. Ostapenko is perhaps the most explosive player on tour right now. Her all out attack approach to the game, when it is on song, is probably the most lethal right next to Serena Williams’ game. Garbine Muguruza is not that far behind in terms of power though her shots feel more like measured, targeted high powered bullets rather than the ten ton denotations Ostapenko unleashes. However, Garbine exceeds Jelena in one area of the game. Movement. Movement essentially won her the Wimbledon final against Venus Williams were her ability to play solid defense as well as offense, proved too much for Venus.
Both these girls know what it takes to win grand slams. They’ve both conquered the French Open and Garbine now knows the taste of victory at the All England Club. If there is a weakness in their respective games, it is in their high risk, high reward nature. When they lose a little confidence and begin to misfire, they can be their own undoing. Also, Garbine Muguruza has proven herself to be a great purpose player. She dials in when there is a clear achievement in front of her that she has to accomplish in order to prove something to herself. That was the case at this year’s Wimbledon. As for Ostapenko, her game is potentially limitless. All she has to do is keep improving her ability to focus in the moment, and gain a measure of her destructive ground strokes.
Ultimately, I do see Muguruza finishing her career with more Grand Slam titles than Ostapenko. These two have met twice before – both on Clay – with Muguruza defeating Ostapenko on both occasions. However, Ostapenko did push Muguruza to three sets in their second encounter at the Italian Open, this year. Only time will tell, but it is safe to say that there is life in the WTA post the Williamses.
Grand Slam Titles: 2 – 1, Muguruza.
Let the race begin.