End of a decade that saw more major winners in women's tennis than ever before
The US Open final saw Bianca Andreescu become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title with her stunning performance against Serena Williams.
This tournament closed out the decade of majors on the women’s side, and it has been an exceptional 10 years with twists and turns along the way.
As we look back on the 2010s, what stood out in the women’s game and how has it been different from any previous decade?
More winners of majors than ever before
There have been 19 women lifting a Grand Slam trophy since 2010, which makes it the decade with the most Grand Slam winners since all four majors began in the 1920s. The previous highest was 16 back in the 1930s.
In stark contrast, the men’s game has seen only six different winners of major tournaments since 2010. This is a decade that can be treated as an outlier because since the 1970s, the men’s game produced 14.8 Slam winners a decade, compared to 11 on the women’s side.
While the unrivalled dominance of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic explains the dearth of new winners on the men’s side, when looking at the women’s game, it is a little more complicated.
Without doubt, Williams has been the player of the decade as she has won 12 majors, more than her 10 in the 2000s. But, the lack of a distinctive “number two player” has led to a larger range of winners.
Other than Williams, nine women have won at least two Slams in the 2010s, and nine more have won one. This is also the first decade in the last 100 years in which there are not at least two players with five major victories.
Women like Marion Bartoli and Flavia Pennetta have provided one silver lining in their career, but have not followed it up.
One-sided finals make for more upsets
Another factor which adds to the fascination in the women’s game is the dearth of competitive matches in the final stages of majors.
Only 14 Grand Slam finals have gone to a third set this decade, whereas the men’s game has so far seen 24 finals at majors go to at least a fourth set.
Usually, the longer the match goes, the more an established player can use their experience and mental strength to pull through. But they have not been allowed that opportunity because the opponent played lights-out tennis to give no chance.
Even Williams’ last four Grand Slam final defeats have ended in straight sets, which just shows that even arguably the greatest of all time is susceptible to a crushing in the final.
Other WTA tournaments have also been sporadic
Adding to the variance of winners at Grand Slam, this decade has also seen a vast number of winners on the WTA tour as a whole.
Between 2013 and 2017, this number kept rising and reached a peak of 43 different women winners two years ago. In the same period, the number of men’s champions on the ATP tour saw a high of 37 in 2016.
The interesting thing to note here is that the majority of tournaments on the men’s and women’s side are played in three sets, so the unpredictability factor should be shared across genders.
But the women’s game has shown incredible versatility despite the last two years showing more men are winning titles than women.
As a new decade approaches next year, it is unknown whether the women’s game will continue to show unpredictability because of the rise of players like Naomi Osaka and Cori Gauff, who could dominate.
But this is not a time to look forward, it is a time to look back on 10 spectacular years.
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