How do you follow the Greatest Generation? It’s a question tennis has tried to answer for at least a decade. Serena, Roger, Novak, Rafa: all of them are over 30, and they’ve combined to win 75 Grand Slam singles titles—but none of them are going away quietly. When they do, who will fill their very large shoes?
As you’ll see in The 21 & Under Club, the future of tennis is still coming, and coming soon. While it may not produce a 20-Slam winner, it’s clear that the game will be in good hands. Interesting hands, too: one thing we know for sure is that this new generation of players will infuse the tours with a wide and refreshing range of styles, personalities and backgrounds. When the Greatest Generation says goodbye, we can feel good about welcoming this cast of players to the courts.
Most-Liked Photo of 2019: Shaking hands with Serena Williams after defeating the 23-time Grand Slam champion at Roland Garros
A scroll through Kenin’s Instagram feed reveals a supremely confident player. She’s holding a doubles trophy in Auckland, a singles trophy in Hobart, a runner-up trophy in Acapulco, and the U.S. flag after a Fed Cup victory.
Then there are Kenin’s words. Yes, pictures can be worth thousands of them, but when Kenin spoke to the WTA website in April, her words seemed to carry even more weight.
“I really want to become No. 1 in the world,” said Kenin, who reached a career-high of No. 33 in March. “I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am. The next goal is to win a Grand Slam.”
Most young players have lofty dreams, but few express them as boldly as Kenin. How realistic are they?
“She’s already got three Top-10 wins,” says Knowles. “That gives you instant validation, and with that comes an incredible amount of confidence—the magic elixir that everyone’s after.
“Then you factor in her attitude. She comes to play every single day; she’s tenacious and doesn’t go away. She defends really well and doesn’t really have any weaknesses. When you put together all those ingredients, she’s got things that validate her beliefs.”