For much of the past two decades, the discussion of who the best women’s tennis player in the world began and ended with a single name: Serena Williams. With 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 319 weeks as the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world (good for third all-time), Williams isn’t just the runaway best player of her era: there’s an excellent case for her as the best women’s tennis player of all time.
While Williams stepped away from the sport last September following the conclusion of the U.S. Open, the 41-year-old legend has remained adamant that she isn’t ready to call it a career just yet.
With a professional career spanning nearly three decades (she made her pro debut at the age of 14 in October 1995, five and a half years before current world No. 1 Iga Świątek was even born), it’s nearly impossible to imagine a sporting world without her presence.
Even so, a new era is dawning, with players like the 21-year-old Świątek, Naomi Osaka (who is currently taking an extended leave of absence from the sport as she expects her first child), Aryna Sabalenka (who won the 2023 Australian Open) and Ons Jabeur (who has made a name for herself as the highest-ranked African and Arab player in WTA history) ready to stake their claim as the most dominant player of their era.
Their next chance will come at the end of next month during the next Grand Slam tournament, with the French Open beginning on Sunday, May 28. As of right now, Świątek is the overwhelming favorite to claim her fourth Grand Slam title, listed as high as -110 at some sportsbooks.
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You’ve heard about Świątek, Sabalenka, and Jabeur (three of the top four in the latest WTA rankings), but here’s a quick look at some of the rest of the current top 25: precisely, those with a major title.
Coming in at No. 7 is Elena Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon singles champion. Rybakina is the first Kazakhstani player to win a major tournament: like Jabeur, she’s a testament to how the game has grown and spread across the world in recent years.
No. 10 Petra Kvitová of the Czech Republic has two singles champions to hang her visor on, both of them at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014. While it’s been nearly a decade since her last major win, Kvitová has kept herself in the conversation by keeping herself toward the top of the pack, most recently recording a WTA singles win at the Miami Open earlier this year.
Her compatriot Barbora Krejčíková clocks in at No. 12 as of the April 3 ranking. Krejčíková earned her first major singles win on the clay courts of the French Open in 2021.
Krejčíková’s real strength, however, comes in the doubles competition. She and Kateřina Siniaková, the current No. 1 worldwide in doubles (No. 46 in singles) have won four of the last five doubles majors since the start of 2022, and have won each of the four major tournaments at least once (and all of them twice, with the exception of the US Open).
They show no signs of slowing down, and with an Australian Open win already checked off the list this season, have some of the best chances of becoming the first duo of all time to win all four titles in one year:
They’re already one of just two duos (along with Gigi Fernández and Pam Shriver of the United States) to win each of the four, earning an Olympic gold medal and finishing the year ranked No.1.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lands at No. 16. Like Kvitová, she has a pair of singles wins, taking home the gold at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, a stretch that saw her ranked No. 1 for 51 weeks.
Russian and Byelorussian players were banned from competing at Wimbledon (as well as other matches) in 2022 in response to the nations’ illegal invasion of Ukraine, making it all the more impressive that Azarenka retains a spot in the top 25 with a limited selection of matches to make their case.
Rounding out the list is Jeļena Ostapenko, who currently sits in the No. 22 spot. She won the French Open in 2017 just two days after her 20th birthday, her lone major championship to date.
Analysis of the Rankings
The 2023 global rankings of female tennis players have seen some significant changes from the previous year. In this section, we will analyze the rankings and identify any trends and patterns that emerge.
Comparison to Previous Year’s Rankings
Serena Williams has maintained her position as the number-one ranked player in the world. However, there have been some changes in the top 10 rankings. Naomi Osaka has moved up from the fourth spot to the second spot, replacing Ashleigh Barty, who dropped to the third spot. Simona Halep has moved up from the seventh spot to the fourth spot, while Bianca Andreescu has dropped from the third spot to the fifth spot.
Significant Changes in Rankings
One of the most significant changes in the rankings is the rise of Coco Gauff. Gauff, who was ranked 23rd in 2022, has moved up to the 11th spot in 2023. Gauff has had an impressive year, winning several tournaments and defeating some of the top-ranked players.
Another notable change is the drop in the rankings of Elina Svitolina, who was ranked fifth in 2022, but has dropped to the eighth spot in 2023. Svitolina has struggled with injuries and inconsistent performances throughout the year.
Top Players to Watch
There are several players to watch in future tournaments, including Coco Gauff, who has shown tremendous potential and is likely to rise further up the rankings. Leylah Fernandez, who is ranked 19th, has also had a strong year and could potentially break into the top 10 rankings.
Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, and Serena Williams are always players to watch, as they have consistently performed at a high level and are likely to continue to do so in the future. However, with the rise of younger players such as Gauff and Fernandez, the competition is only getting stronger, and it will be interesting to see how the rankings shift in the coming years.