Serena Williams' recent announcement that she will retire after the 2022 U.S. Open has elicited some emotional responses, as one would expect. No name stands for "tennis" like the name "Serena." People who have never watched a tennis match are fascinated by her accomplishments and are inspired by her courage and determination.
Unfortunately, the announcement has also added new fuel to the tiresome G.O.A.T. discussion. One hopes that that won't detract from the simple process of saying goodbye to Serena, who is moving on to the next stage in her very interesting life.
But it isn't just Serena's upcoming departure from professional tennis that portends significant change--there really is a lot of depth on the tour (though there are people on Twitter who cannot name one good WTA player--hmm, I wonder why.....), and there is an entire generation that is evolving into a force. Elena Rybakina's recent Wimbledon victory is a good example of this evolution, not to mention the already highly impressive accomplishments of world number 1 Iga Swiatek.
Almost a year ago, we were treated to this, and we have been fortunate to watch the impressive rise of such players as Ons Jabeur, Coco Gauff, Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari, Jessie Pagula, and--most recently--Zheng Qinwen and Beatriz Haddad Maia. There have also been some nice comebacks: Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina are back in the mix, and former world number 1 Simona Halep is back in the top 10. Veterans like Alize Cornet, Shelby Rogers and Kaia Kanepi continue to bring excitement to the events in which they compete.
Tomorrow, we could see a new star rise on the tour, an--sadly--it won't be long before we see some more of our favorites say goodbye. There are people who long for a Chris-Martina/Steffi-Monica-type rivalry, and--while that would be exciting--it is hardly necessary. The tour doesn't suffer from a lack of talent, personality, or excitement. It does suffer from an abundance of sexism and misogyny, which is never really addressed, other than in symbolic, "showy" ways.
Everything changes. Beloved players retire, our favorites sustain injuries and are out for a while, top players go into slumps, new players break through, and players who were always under the radar suddenly demand our attention. Nothing can ever be exactly the way it was, even a day ago. The tour is an organic entity, always evolving--and that's a good thing.