Serena Williams was written off not so long ago. She was too focussed on life after tennis and not her current life in tennis. Fashion lines became more important than tramlines. Centre stage was preferred to centre court. One of the best players in the history of the sport looked to be drifting out of the game with a little more than an indifferent nod by way of farewell.
It’s safe to say Serena (30) has proven those theories wrong and could yet go on to enjoy a long and successful Indian summer to her career. She made hay during her summer in London, winning the Wimbledon singles and doubles titles before following up with an Olympic gold medals in the same formats at the All England Club. It certainly doesn’t look like the career trajectory of someone gradually winding down. Since her shock exit in the first round of the French Open, she has lost just once in 20 singles matches, picking up three tournament wins, including those wins in London.
At 11/10, the younger Williams sister heads into the last major of the year the hot favourite to win another US Open which returns to the Flushing Meadows hardcourts on Monday.
With some of her competitors looking about as reliable as one of Prince Harry’s friends telling him ‘don’t worry, we’re not taking pictures’ siding with Serena is extremely tempting. Another win in New York would be hugely significant for Williams. If she were to claim her fourth US Open title, she would move level on the overall leaderboard with, amongst others, legendary compatriot, Billie Jean King and legendary kind of compatriot, Martina Navratilova.
The big threat is the excessive grunting of Maria Sharapova (25). Only this week she launched a range of candy called Sugarpova and she’s no stranger to standing in front of the photographer’s lens. It’s strange that although she’s considerably less successful than either Williams sister, she receives far less criticism for her off-court interests. Being pretty covers up for all manner of sub-standard performances.
Tangential rant aside, the Russian has had a good year, completing her career Grand Slam by winning in Paris earlier this year. But the US Open is a different matter. It’s been six years since she got her hands on the US Open trophy. She’s had a good season to date and she’s more than capable of beating anyone, but at times it feels like she’s equally capable of throwing in a stinker and slumping out of a major early on. 13/2 is a tempting price, but Sharapova’s inconsistency makes it a slight risk. The prospect of having to sit through all that grunting also takes away from its appeal.
Victoria Azarenka (23) has rarely made an impact in the Big Apple, but she’s rarely been number one in the world. With the confidence that comes from her lofty ranking and having an Australian Open victory under her belt, she might be a different proposition this time around and she’s an interesting 15/2 to win in New York. The recent history of women’s tennis features plenty of players who reached the world’s top spot without going on to dominate the majors and the Belorussian will hope she’s not the latest member to drift away after a career peak.
Below the top three in the US Open betting, there’s an incredible list of top class players you wouldn’t be surprised to see in a final. Two time US Open winner, Venus Williams is a 33/1 shot to win whilst defending champion, Samantha Stosur is a whopping 22/1 to defend her title. Fans of the fairytale ending with little basis on current form will be tempted by the 33/1 on offer for Kim Clijsters. The three-time winner has decided to hang up her racket for once and for all after this event. Injuries have blighted her final season, but if she stays healthy for the two weeks in New York, she’ll be a difficult opponent for anyone.