The appearance of Roger Federer in 2003 was the beginning of the Big Three, a very well-known trio in professional tennis consisting of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. This year, the streak of the Big Three has come to an end as Roger Federer has announced his retirement. This announcement came shortly after Serena Williams announced her retirement. With these two tennis legends leaving the court, a new age of tennis has dawned.
There are four Grand Slams every year: the Australian Open in January, the Roland Garros French Open in May and June, the Championships Wimbledon in June and July, and the U.S. Open in August in September. Recently, the tennis world has had new champions in these Grand Slams who have made themselves known, but do any of them have what it takes to be legends? As of right now, the top three men’s players are Carlos Alceraz, Casper Rudd, and Rafael Nadal, and the top three women’s players are Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur, and Anett Kontaveit. For most, I don’t think people would recognize the majority of these names, but will they in the future? Many believed Emma Radacanu, Coco Gauff, or Naomi Osaka would be the future of women’s tennis, but that certainly was not reflected in the most recent tennis season. Today, we are stuck at this intermittent period of tennis with the best of the best trying to break through. This is not to say that it isn’t extremely entertaining.
Watching tennis the past 5 years has been such an exciting time because of its unpredictability, a battle of underdogs where no one knows how it is going to turn out. I personally find tennis so fascinating because you can be 18 or 35 and be the best in the world, while younger ages often dominate the field. Players like Novak Djokavic (35) are able to break that barrier. The only thing stopping Djokavic as of now is his refusal to get the COVID-19vaccine, so he is currently not allowed to travel to certain countries to play in Grand Slams. Another unique aspect about tennis is its unique position regarding gender equality. Tennis might be one of the only sports where the women players are just as, if not more, famous than the men. One of the most important aspects of this is equal pay. Thanks to Billie Jean King, 39-time Grand Slam Champion, women earn the same amount of prize money as men in tournaments. In 1970, men’s champion Ilie Nastase won $3,700 for first place while Billie Jean King earned a mere $600. Because of this, King started her own championship and formed the Women’s Tennis Association, and also threatened to boycott several Grand Slams. This resulted in equal pay for women in tennis. Also, because of the fact that the sport itself is the same for both genders, and it is common for men and women to play together on a doubles team. This makes the ranking of tennis so interesting because when you are a tennis player, whether you are man or woman, you have the opportunity to be the best in the world.
The game will not be the same without Serena Williams or Roger Federer, but nothing great lasts forever. Their contributions to the sport will be remembered for as long as the sport continues, and all those who follow will wish to achieve their greatness much like all the pros before them. In 2022, Tennis needs more champions – more King’s, William’s, and Federer’s. In this blank space in the tennis world, who will rise above the rest?