2008 Tennis — The Women’s Game
by Abe Kuijl | January 2nd, 2008, 12:07 pm

With Justine Henin putting up a Roger Federeresque year in 2007, the resurgence of the Williams sisters and the arrival of two instant crowd favorites from Serbia, the WTA is coming off a pretty good year. This season proves to be even better though, as we welcome back the still-going-strong Lindsay Davenport, and can expect a group of exciting young players making great strides towards the elite ranks of the game.

The season got off to the right start, with Serena Williams claiming (again) that she wants the No. 1 ranking back. As long as Serena doesn’t put in the extra hours on the practice courts and starts working on her physique so she doesn’t get injured every other week, that’s never going to happen again.

Henin supreme again?

Will Justine Henin be as dominant in ’08 as she was last season? Not likely. Yes, she’ll finish the year as No.1 again, but putting up a whopping 63-4 record and winning 2 out of 3 Slams she competed in will be nearly impossible to match. The outstanding year-end championships final against an injury-troubled Maria Sharapova showed that the Russian will be a tough nut to crack for the Belgian on faster surfaces, if Masha has left her shoulder troubles behind her and can play a full schedule again. Sharapova doesn’t fold under pressure and has the belief she can take on anyone. She’s still only 20 years old and although there’s little variety in her game, the WTA’s biggest asset keeps developing as a player and should have a Slam in her this year.

Serbian honours

There wasn’t much between Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic in 2007, but the latter has more potential for greatness and could establish herself as the undisputed Serbian No. 1 in 2008. Jankovic moves better than her countrywoman, but she lacks firepower. What J.J. mostly needs to work on is turning her serve from a weakness into a strength or she’ll continue to be put under constant pressure on her own delivery. Let’s not forget about doing some rescheduling either.

Ivanovic needs to learn not to get too excited after hitting one or two great shots early on in a match. She’s often too energized for her own good and it hurts her consistency. When she calms down after some emotional outbursts, she often drops a level and starts missing easy shots. When Ivanovic becomes a better match player, she’ll be a legitimate Slam contender.

Sister act

I already wrote a little about Serena, but let’s take a closer look at the Williamses. It promises to be a very interesting year for the sisters, as both Venus and Serena are now back in the Top 10 and again forces to be reckoned with. They both won a Slam last year and that’s a scenario we could see again in 2008. Serena will be the defending champion in Australia in two weeks, but Venus has been the better of the two for the second half of last year. What’s been interesting to see during those successful months for Venus, is how she has made serious work of improving her game and adding variety. She has especially become a much more skilled player around the net, although she’ll never have the natural feel of a Henin. Venus’ willingness to add to her game is a big difference with Serena, who is still the same old wham-bam cannonball machine she’s always been. That’ll probably never change, considering Serena doesn’t have the agility of her sister, and still struggles with staying healthy for a full season.

Who’s next?

Anna Chakvetadze had a stellar 2007 and for a moment cracked the Top 5. Tatiana Golovin is starting to fulfil some of her potential and finished a career high No. 13. Nicole Vaidisova has recovered from injuries and mono and has all the makings of becoming a top player. Then there was the unexpected breakthrough from Marion Bartoli, while young Hungarian Agnes Szavay rocketed from No. 189 at the start of the year to a No. 20 finish. What’s in store for these young guns?

Chakvetadze might grind to a halt in ’08 after an outstanding 2007, unless she finds a way to start beating the top players and controlling her emotions on court. Bartoli is a fine player, but she won’t do much better than her current No. 10 ranking. Golovin, Vaidisova and Szavay should all improve, and especially the first two should become solid Top-10ers this year.

Don’t expect too much from…

Svetlana Kuznetsova

Kuznetsova was a steady performer in 2007, but she won’t hold on to her No. 2 ranking for long. Kuzy is a contender at Roland Garros, but at the other majors she doesn’t rank among the top favorites. The Russian will have a tough time finishing the year in the Top 5.

Daniela Hantuchova

Hantuchova is 24 years old, but it feels like the Slovak has been around forever. She sneaked into the year-end championships by winning Linz in the last week of the season, but Dani’s long-term Top 10 potential is limited.

Nadia Petrova

Once dubbed the greatest player of her generation never to have won a Grand Slam, Nadia Petrova is on the decline. The 25-year-old Russian is having a hard time fighting injuries and when she is fit, can’t keep up with the best players in the game.

Amelie Mauresmo

The Frenchwoman had a horrendous 2007 after her career year in ’06, but now that she’s fit and recharged her batteries, Mauresmo should bounce back and put up some solid results again. One more year in the Top 10 is not unlikely, although competition is getting harder for Momo. Don’t count on more Grand Slam titles for the 28-year-old.

Elena Dementieva

She was supposed to become the first Russian woman to win a Grand Slam. But when Dementieva lost the Roland Garros final in 2004 to countrywoman Anastasia Myskina, she had blown her biggest opportunity. Lena D. was troubled by injuries for most part of 2007, but her time seems to have past nonetheless. She remains one of the best movers on tour with a rock-solid game, but new generation power-hitters such as Ivanovic have past her by. Dementieva will have to settle for the Top 15.

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23 Comments for 2008 Tennis — The Women’s Game

rogers twin sister Says:

Why is everyone so reluctant to tell Serena that she’s fat? Delicately stating that she’s either “not healthy” or “not fit” is doing her a disservice. She needs to shed the blubber, and not by liposuction as is rumored. I can’t stand her nasty personality, but I fully believe that if she’d push herself away from the Big Mac Buffet and get on a cross-country bike tour, her talent would take her right back to the top. But she won’t, will she? She’s daddy’s little girl spoiled brat who thinks everything should be handed to her on a silver platter without doing the necessary work. I’ve just thrown down the gauntlet; let’s see if she picks it up and rises to the challenge of becoming slimmer and fitter the right way.

jane Says:

I think in “who’s next?” Radwanska is at least worth a mention; she’s got talent and she knocked out Sharapova on a big stage. That wasn’t fluke; that was foreshadowing, imho.

Sharapova should have a good 2008, though, if her year-end performance tells anything. And the Serbs will continue their charge.

Which means I agree with Abe, that Henin might not be as dominant this year.

And rogers twin sister – way to tell it like it is! I don’t like either William’s sister’s nasty personality (Venus just sugarcoats hers), even if they can play some great tennis.

Lloyd Says:

The willaim sisters – 15 grand slams between them. seven wimbledons. four US opens. three australian opens. one French open. An olympic gold medal. over 70 titles. I hate to lump em together but you made me. enough said.

me Says:

Hey Lloyd…were you referring to the lumps of fat on Serena’s legs and butt? That’s called Cellulose…cause she’s so fat!!

Von Says:

I agree that Serena is fat, but it’s not very easy telling someone that you feel they are fat. It is unkind and can be very destructive. I would think that from her mirror she knows she is fat, and probably that is why she wears the too tight outfits. Some people tend to do that if they are fat, they think the skimpy clothes make them look slimmer. In reality, it makes them look fatter and shows every bulge.

As for the personality of both sisters — very nasty and extremely rude. nuveau riche, can make monsters out of some people. Serena is outwardly rude, with the faces and eyes and then the mouth. Venus, tries to be cutsey. Most of the time she seems to feel out every word before saying. Unfortunately, for US Tennis, they are the best we have at the present time. Hence, the attitude.

I’d like to see Mauresmo get beck her form. She is good when she’s healthy.

I think Davenport will have a good run this year. She is well rested and can be a force to be reckoned with.

I believe Jancovic like her counterpart, Djokovic, is burnt out. Maybe someone told them that the only way to get to the top is by playing every tournament. They’re both reaping the fruit of their efforts – burnout.

Ivanovic has talent but for some reason she looks awkward when playing, walking. I don’t place too much emphasis on her getting higher. Time will tell.

Henin had a good ’07, probably she channeled the negative feelings from her divorce into her game. I doubt that we’ll see a repeat performance this year. She’s not a very healthy athlete — prone to viruses — a pity. She really is a dynamo when she gets going.

Amy Says:

I hope you guys have noticed that Serena has shed the pounds (check the pics from the Hopman Cup). Yesterday I sat down with this older black gentlemen at a country club in st. louis and we were talking about tennis (he really loves Rod Laver and Billie Jean King). Eventually we got on the subject of Venus and Serena, and like 4 to 5 other people made their ways over there to partake in the conversation. I found that to be so weird and amazing. I don’t think there has ever been two players that have sparked such heated debate. I’m a white girl, and sometimes I have been reluctant to express my criticism about them because of the fear of being called a racist. After about 30 minutes of talking about Venus and Serena, the other people left. This older black gentlemen gently leaned over to me and told me why Venus and Serena are so admired and then at times hated. He said to me there’s a different sense of pride that overcomes black people when it comes to watching those girls play. He was honest and said yeah we support ’em because they us, but our love is unconditional with them because they came up with nothin’. Black people understand that more than any other race in this country. Venus and Serena’s careers are a microcosm of our existence in America, a reminder. That’s why every time they touch that court it’s a big deal with everyone. They are America’s reminder of black people’s struggle and a reminder of black people’s triumph. I don’t mean to get into this, but everytime I read or hear something about them on tv or in newpapers I think of what he told me. He said if you listen to the commentary or read the press; Venus and Serena are criticized much more heavily and at times rudely than say other great players in their position. Venus and Serena are a bit of an enigma with us; we know they are good, and if they want to, they can dominate almost anyone if not everyone in women’s tennis. I told him, I don’t think its a racial issue of any kind. But when I think about some the comments that has been said and written about them. I just want them to be better sports; because they really are special and whether we their critics like it or not; the game needs them more than any other player.

Chriscomp Says:

While I agree with much of what Amy says about the Williams sisters, and particularly white people’s somewhat reluctant support of them mainly because they are the best the US has to offer in the women’s game right now, they came to the sport with such big chips on their shoulders and immediate disrespect for all other players, further bolstered by their father’s unrelenting braggadocio, that my dislike for them, as with most people, had nothing to do with their race. They were, simply put, prima donnas who thought that the entire world, especially white people it seemed, owed them something. Through the years, however, they’ve softened their outspokenness and while they’re not exactly self-deprecating nor very appreciative of their opponents’ efforts, they’ve become more complimentary and enthusiastic overall – especially Venus. While I don’t exactly endorse them wholeheartedly, I admire them in that they’ve done a lot for the women’s game in general and I’m still rooting for them to succeed thus helping the US rise to the top of the heap once again.

Henin Says:

4 out of 4 in GS play in 08 for Henin… Plus Olympic Gold and Masters. This will be the best performance ever in a single season in the women’s circuit cuz Steffi couldn’t adorn her golden slam with the masters title in 1988 and i believe Juju is capable of achieving this.

Note today’s date in somewhere !

rogers twin sister Says:

Watched Serena win her round in the Hopman Cup last night, and she seems to have trimmed up a bit. She certainly looks better than last year at this time. Why was she wearing a long-sleeved sweater, though? By the end of the 2 set match, she was soaked in perspiration. Bizarre! Anyway, congrats on the win!

rogers twin sister Says:

Amy, you need to stop being a milquetoast, apologetic racist. Not to criticize someone just because of their race is equally as bad as criticizing them because of their race.

Susan Says:

I was shocked at how much weight Serena appeared to have dropped. Maybe it looked like more because she seemed to be wearing cloths that fit her for once. Whatever the reason, congrats to her for doing something about the extra weight. I do not think she’ll become the Serena of old. That ship has sailed. She has had too many injuries and there are many talented, strong, fit & hungry players out there. Too bad she & Venus didn’t take it as seriously as they could have.

Von Says:

roger twin sister: I just read some of your other blogs. You must be a piece of work. Don’t you have anything good to say to anyone or about anyone? Why so much venom? In your eyes every other athlete is third-rate, and everyone else is stupid. Let’s hear it for Miss Congeniality!!!

Joe Says:

your wrong, marion bartoli is a fine player and she can rise as high as top 3 this year if she can keep her focus. in the match against henin in the wimbledon SF she lost the first set 6-0 but ended up beating henin very convincingly. her head is inconsistent sometimes she lapses in concentration and this hurts her (as it did in the final against venus) but when she gets it together she’s amazing to watch and top 3 quality. i think she’s got potential to be up there and will be in the top 10 for a while to come at only just turned 22 she’s the heir to mauresmo. but if mauresmo’s fit she in my mind is the best but she to has trouble with lapses in concentration and confidence etc.

ロゴ Says:

I dont think Serenas necessarily fat, but just too bulky.
I think the ideal tennis body is strong but light and agile, shes powerful, but seems too have lost mobility and aerobic endurance.

Von Says:

Serena is stocky. That’s why she is so powerful. It is very difficult for stocky people to stay thin. They also have large bones. How is someone going to get rid of that. Ther’e only so much fat that can be gotten rid of by diet or wiring their jaws shut. But, it’s not really from too much over eating. Unfortunately, God did not make us all with perfect bodies, so we have to make do with what we have. I do feel sorry for stocky, bulky, or whatever body that’s not tall and willowy but pleasingly plump. They suffer their own hell on earth. She’s lost some mobility because of her knee problems. I can identify with knee pain. It’s horrible. That also contributes to her weight gain. Thankfully, God me to be a string bean, or else I would be a house from inactivity.

mary Says:

No, Von. KUZNETSOVA is stocky.Serena is a full-bodied woman.I am African so I will tell you the difference.It’ like saying that Jennifer Hudson is stocky (or Queen Latifah)

Skateboard zee Says:

Guys..serena isn fat..i cant believe this..ya’ll go on about how mean u think she is but u go and do the same thing..i just think that a lot of americans still have a problem with seeing a reali successful black athlete..on court you not supposed to be nice you must INTIMIDATE YOUR OPPONENT..nd off court its because she takes it hard on herself nd expects greatness..AFRICAN WOMEN ARE FULL FIGURED!!!!SO GET ON WITH YOUR LIVES AND LEAVE THE ISSUE!!ITS LYK ASKING BEYONCE TO LOSE WEIGHT..THATS JUST BOGUS!!COME ON NOW..I HOPE SERENA CAN PUT YA’LL TO SHAME ND DEFEND THAT TITLE!

rogers twin sister Says:

Skateboard: I’ve never heard of anyone asking Beyonce to lose weight. Who did that?

Von Says:

mary: OK I understand it. But whether she’s full-bodied or stocky, is it not difficult for her to stay thin? That is my point. Full-bodied/stocky women have a difficult time controlling their weight. They go up and down, because if say they have an injury which makes it difficult to be mobile, their weight just starts to escalate. Is it her fault, I don’t think so. I can understand any criticism about her weight, if for certain she just sits around gorging herself on cookies, cake and everything that goes to her hip/breast, but I don’t think that she does that. As I stated it is not an easy see-saw for her and I do understand her problem.

Defending her caused me to end up with a problem with someone on this site, so I don’t want to be caught in any arguments and create enemies.

Have you read my other posts? I defended her.

Von Says:

Inasmuch as I am not comfortable doing this, but my curiosity has gotten the better of me.

Has anyone seen Venus Williams’ psuedo-tennis attire? Of what is she thinking? Doess she really believe that is proper tennis attire. I don’t know which view is worst, the front or the back. Ths shorts are so “short” it keeps working its way up and she constantly has to pull it down. And the back of the shorts reveal so much. Not to mention that silly, little girl sleeves. I wore a blouse with sleeves somewhat similar with my Catholic school uniform.

Apparently, this is her new clothes line. i have better things on which to spend my money.

I previously touched on both sisters’ attitude, which I happen to dislike. Their religion is Jehovah Witnesses. And, this I know for a fact, that their religion prohibits clothing that’s revealing. The women wear long sleeves and long skirts. An exception is made for their professional attire, but not to that extent. Serena’s party clothes leaves nothing to the imagination. I don’t get it.

Because they are the face of America in the Tennis world, I would really like to see them in tasteful, properly fitted, clothing. I have never seen a match in which they are playing that they are not pulling down something. Martina Navritilova mentioned at one of their matches, the FO ’07, that when she played she wanted to be comfortable and not have to concentrate on her attire. With these girls it’s either the hair or the clothes that’s being fixed, I am surprised that they win.

jane Says:

As per my previous post- “I think in “who’s next?” Radwanska is at least worth a mention; she’s got talent and she knocked out Sharapova on a big stage. That wasn’t fluke; that was foreshadowing, imho.”

And here she is in the first slam of 08 upsetting another top seed, this time Kusnetzova. Here she is in the final 16: can she keep going?

I tell you, this young, Polish lass is a player to keep your eyes on.

Patrick Diercks Says:

why is everyone arguing about the fitness of serena williams?? I mean if she can come to australia and win the title, that means that she is fit ENOUGH to play her best tennis?? I mean have you seen that final against sharapova??I have very rarely seen a women play that well….
I do admit that she did not look as fit as a couple of years ago, but on the pictures of the hopman cup she looks fitter than ever!!!

also I think if she can win a slam unfit, what does that say about the rest of the womens game??

Von Says:

Serena will most probably be in the semis or end up as a finalist. It all depends on her knee problem, which seems to flare up after too much match play. If this does not occur, I think she’ll be in the finals. She is committed to winning and she has a lot of points to defend to stay at her ranking position.

As for her fitness,I think she has answered all of the questions. She lost some weight and she looks rather slim and happy. My money is on Serena.

Also, Venus is moving along rather smoothly. Maybe a Williams final, Venus v. Serena. Then they’ll both be in the top 10. Venus will probably end up higher in the top 10 than Serena because Venus did not compete at the AO last year. She does not have any points to defend, so however far she goes, translates to a higher ranking.

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