For so long touted as a strength of the men’s game over their female counterparts, the dominance of a notable few male players has created a sense of formality at majors. In many ways – and it may well be heretical to say so when discussing some of the greatest players ever to step on court – it has become a little dull.
Rafael Nadal has won 13 of the last 17 French Opens; Djokovic has triumphed at nine of the last 14 Australian Opens and six of the last 10 Wimbledons. While the astonishing levels of ability and ensuing rivalry of the select few capable of winning majors has carried men’s tennis over the last decade or so, the element of uncertainty that is crucial to sport has often been lacking.
Even as Serena Williams spent more than 15 years steadily working her way towards Margaret Court’s record of major titles, every women’s slam would begin with few people having any idea who would emerge this time.
In the last decade Marion Bartoli, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek, Barbora Krejcikova and now Raducanu have won one, but no more than two, major titles.
Some have suggested such variety is indicative of a weakness at the top of women’s tennis, but there is a thrill in unpredictability.