Women's tennis needs a facelift and there's no better time than now, says NANDITA SRIDHAR
In the last couple of years, women's tennis has been struggling with its identity.
It has been unpredictable, but not always in a good way, throwing up a few promising names every now and then, has nurtured bonafide champions, but allowed incredible, yet slightly disturbing comebacks.
Before the instability, there was a time when things did look promising for the women. Serena and Venus Williams were undeniable factors at Slams (Serena still is), Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova were insatiably competitive in all tournaments, and Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic were the promising, intriguing new faces with delightfully diverse personalities.
Somewhere down the line, injuries caught up, and competitive instincts were diluted. The women's game began struggling to sustain a crop of top players with the ability to remain injury-free.
Women's tennis also had to compete with one of the most historically significant periods in the men's game. Roger Federer's pile of Slams and his rivalry with Rafael Nadal deservedly captured the imagination of fans worldwide. The WTA Tour, meanwhile, struggled with injuries and form.
The general defensive style attributed to the women's game has made it rely heavily on personalities, drama and glamour.
It still has the potential to create its own unique, multi-dimensional appeal, should the players come to its rescue.
Sharapova's comeback chances after a shoulder injury were boosted after her title win at Memphis. Women's tennis could do with her combative instincts.
“I feel great. I came here for matches — I got five and I got the win, so it was a good week. I served and returned well, two things that are very important indoors.
I worked hard after the Australian Open and little by little things are coming along,” said Sharapova.
Henin and Clijsters, with their comebacks, have added a great deal to the sport with their distinctive styles and personalities.
Ivanovic, struggling with confidence, has hired Heinz Gunthardt, Steffi Graf's former coach, to reverse her career spiral.
Where is women's tennis going? By the looks of it, there is a possibility of a future, however distant, of greater stability and depth at the top. Women's tennis needs its best players firing together. There's no better time than now.
Keywords: Women's tennis