Who will be the next ’Serena’?

SERENA Williams has been the face of American tennis for more than 20 years now, and with the champion still making waves and in the top 10 at almost 40, there is no doubt that she will go down in history as one of the all-time greats. With the intensity, talent and physical and mental endurance to keep on going throughout the years, Williams has captivated the attention of the world with her consistency and ability to provide a threatening competitor for a number of years. 

That being said, Williams is edging ever closer to retirement, leaving a spot open to steal that American superstar title for whoever chooses to accept it and be a threat in the coming years.

With the future of women’s tennis in the United States bright, there are a plethora of talented players who could well and truly take over that top spot. With 17 players within the top 100 – and four joining Williams inside the top 30 – the United States is no slouch on the international circuit.

Sofia Kenin may still be young, but has proved over the past year that she is more than capable of taking top spot – it is more about whether she can hold onto it that will be the question. At only 21-years-old she can turn it on, and with a 2020 Australian Open Grand Slam title one of two under her belt, she could be a formidable opponent in the coming years if she can keep this winning form going. 

Also up there are the next couple in line on the rankings, with a handful of experienced talent matched well by young names in the mix. Amanda Anisimova is the youngest of the bunch at 18 years old, and with a maiden title behind her in 2019 at Bogota – making her the youngest American to win a title since Williams herself in 1999 at Flushing Meadows – the teen will hope to continue on that route once the season picks up again and follow the rest of Williams’ career with the same consistency after a fantastic season. 

Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens may have a couple years on Anisimova but are no easy beats themselves, collecting five and six titles respectively and having both sat within the top 10 at multiple stages in their careers. Like the aforementioned duo, Alison Riske is another name that could crop up, however at age 30 there is little chance for her to really capitalise on her opportunities, with just the two titles to her name. Jennifer Brady and Danielle Collins are two other names that could be thrown in the mix who are still in their mid-twenties, but have not yet been able to take advantage of opportunities thrown their way as yet. 

Ranked just outside the top 50 is a highly exciting prospect in Coco Gauff, who won her maiden title in 2019 at Linz and well and truly exploded out of the blocks last year, defeating compatriot Venus Williams – who is yet to retire but is in much the same position as her sister – and then defeated reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in 2020.

Brimming with talent, it is hard to believe Gauff is still only 16 years old. Gauff is more than capable of taking out that coveted top spot in the coming years, already causing a stir with her explosiveness but still has a bit to go when it comes to her consistency and ability to really go far in tournaments. She is really one to watch for the future though, and it is unlikely she will escape the spotlight for long.

Looking at further depth in the American list, Catherine McNally and Whitney Osuigwe are ranked within the top 150 (124th and 143rd respectively), and with both having hit their career high of 105th in the world in 2019 – in consecutive months, no less – there is plenty of opportunity for the 18-year-olds to head further up the rankings as time goes on. McNally is ranked significantly higher when it comes to doubles, coming in at 38th and with plenty of potential, while Ann Li is another name who can be thrown in the ring, ranked 131st and still only 20 years old. All three players will surely get their chance at a maiden WTA title in the coming years, plying their trade at plenty of tournaments in effort to gain as much experience as possible. 

With Kenin, Anisimova and Gauff having already tasted success, the young trio are really in with a chance to be the face of American tennis when Williams retires, making for an exciting couple of years to come.

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