Over the last 6 months, women’s tennis has lacked the excitement and flare of years past. Some may attribute the decline to the absence of superstars, Venus and Serena Williams. During the 2011 US Open, Venus Williams announced that she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called, Sjogren’s syndrome. Since making that life altering announcement, Williams has played in merely 12 matches and is ranked 135th on the WTA rankings list.
Unfortunately, Williams’ younger sister Serena Williams was also sidelined with her own set of health issues. In late February of 2011, Williams underwent emergency surgery to remove a blood clot that doctors discovered in her lungs. Williams returned to the courts four months later at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne. In grand fashion, Williams won her match in Eastbourne and powered through the first few rounds of Wimbledon. However, Williams’ triumphant return to the “All England Club” was cut short when she lost in a fourth round match-up with Marion Bartoli (6-3, 7-6).
Others may associate the lack of excitement in women’s tennis to the absence of tough competition between elite players. The heated rivalries have faded. The top ranked player has changed repeatedly over recent years. Caroline Wozniacki captured the #1 spot in October 2010 and held the title for nearly 18 months. Ironically, Wozniacki never won a major Grand Slam during her time at #1, and she has since fallen to #4 overall.
Currently, Belarusian player Victoria Azarenka sits atop the women’s leader board. She became the WTA’s #1 player, following her finals victory at the 2012 Australian Open. Azarenka defeated the 2008 Australian Open champion, Maria Sharapova in straight sets (6-3, 6-0). Although Sharpova is currently ranked #2, she is certainly the player to beat right now. After working her way back from various injuries (shoulder and ankle), Sharapova looks poised to shake things up again. Tennis fans will have to wait and see if the presence of new champions like Azarenka and the return of veterans like Sharapova will bring back the excitement to women’s tennis.