5 of the Greatest Women’s Tennis Rivalries of the Last Decade

Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova’s rivalry is considered the mother of all women’s tennis rivalries of all time. But their time has ended, and one of these modern rivalries are worth every spectator’s pondering.

Although women’s tennis is awaiting the next age of rivalries, time and again, rivalries (of epic proportions) happen on and off-court.

Below are the greatest women’s tennis rivalries of the last ten years.

Kim Clijsters vs Justine Henin

Both Belgians, Clijsters and Henin had 25 overall meetings with the former winning 13 of them. However, Henin won three out of three of their Grand Slam matches–French Open, US Open, and Australian Open.

Clijsters, on the other hand, prevailed at their last three matches – at the Brisbane International, Miami Open, and at Wimbledon – to end their rivalry in 2010. Clijsters won these matches in just three sets. Henin has 7 Grand Slam titles while Clijsters has 4.

Serena Williams vs Martina Sharapova

Williams and Sharapova are each other’s archnemesis. They met 21 times, but Williams prevailed over and over, winning 19 of these games. On the other hand, Sharapova defeated Williams twice in 2004 including her phenomenal Grand Slam finals win when she was only 17 years old. She became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion. 

Since 2007, Sharapova has not defeated Williams. Of all the sets they’ve played, Williams won 34 out of 36. Williams leads the rivalry with 19 against Sharapova’s two wins.

Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka

Williams may have the advantage over Azarenka, a Belarussian, with a 17 to 3 advantage. Nevertheless, Azarenka is one of the few tennis players who can push Williams to the edge.

Since 2008, they met up to 23 times with Williams prevailing in 19 of these games. Their 2012 US Open game was considered a classic. Although Williams dominated the match with a three-sets straight win, their style is competitive and compelling. In 2016 Indian Wells Masters, Azarenka won over Williams with a two-sets straight win.

Serena Williams vs Venus Williams

A sibling rivalry in tennis is rare, but Serena and Venus proved that one has won out over the other. The younger Williams met with her sister for a total of 29 head-to-head games throughout their career. Serena dominates the stats, cupping 23 Grand Slam singles titles compared with Venus’s 7.

At the start, Venus was ahead of Serena wherein she won their first three head-to-head and 2001 US Open Grand Slam final meetings. Venus won again against Serena in 2008 Wimbledon, and that’s it. The rest was Serena’s wins onward an impressive 23 titles, although both were ranked #1 in different times.

Simona Halep vs Serena Williams

Although criticised for targeting three sets when they should be playing five, Halep chose to end the match with just two sets against Williams. In 2015, it was a predicted rivalry, when Williams was already #1 and Halep, #3, that only happened in 2019.

Since 2011, they met 11 times head-to-head, but Halep won over just three of these matches. The 2015 Miami Open semifinals, where Williams prevailed over Halep in three sets, fueled the rivalry while earning the top seed’s respect of how she plays her game.

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Player Feature: Simona Halep

Full Name: Simona Halep 

Birthdate: September 27, 1991

Birthplace: Constanta, Romania 

Years active: 2006 – present

WTA Rank: #4

Key statistics

  • Known for aggressive baseline style
  • Has 19 singles titles
  • Makes 5x fewer errors than opponents
  • Gave Williams two of her worst defeats

Playing without a full-time coach, Simona Halep is an aggressive baseliner who can cover all surfaces. Halep plays right-handed (two-handed backhand). 

She named Justine Henin as one of her primary tennis models. Henin retorted by saying that Halep is an “intelligent game” who is both offensive and aggressive. She has uncanny anticipation and is astonishingly fast. Her strokes are unreadable, but she knows how to disrupt her opposition’s rhythm while disguising her own.

One vital component of Halep’s tennis strategy is her few errors. She always makes fewer errors against her opponents, at about 5x less. She seizes opportunities not to make any error due to her wide back swings and slides despite her small stature (Halep was only 5’6” and 132 lbs). She controls to rally and produces winners in the process without relying on the mistakes of her opponent.

Her agile all-court movement on the court is the end-result of her daily training. She exercises every day for one hour. Her usual regimen includes running, body weight, and resistance activities. She lifts a maximum of 2 kilograms. Halep is an occasional yoga practitioner as well. 

Her breakout season was in 2013. She won six titles against top 20 and top 10 tennis players. Halep was only second to Steffi Graf to do such who also won the same number of titles in 1986. Halep was named the Most Improved Player by the ESPN Center Court.

She became the #2 player in 2014 and ranked #1 twice between 2017 and 2019. The first one was on October 9, 2017, wherein she held the ranking for 16 weeks and again on 2019 for 48 consecutive weeks. Her 64-week #1 combined ranked her as the 10th in women’s tennis history. 

Halep is Wimbledon 2019’s women’s singles champion, outwitting Serena Williams in a two-sets-straight win. She gave Williams two of her worst defeats; first in 2014 WTA Finals by 6-0, 6-2 and in 2019 by 6-2, 6-2.

She won her Grand Slam titles for the first time in several years since she started playing professionally in 2006. She hasn’t won any Australian Open or US Open titles, but she won French Open in 2018 and her latest win, Wimbledon in 2019.

Halep was the second Romanian tennis player to win multiple majors. The first one was Ilie Nastase who won the US Open and French Open in 1972 and 1973, respectively. Nonetheless, she became the only Romanian player to bring home the Venus Rosewater Dish.

She has played almost 700 tennis matches with 19 singles titles and one doubles title. Halep has 486 wins and 207 losses. 

She has played in Africa, South America, Oceania, Asia, Europe, and North America. She was playing for about 14 years on tour. Halep has also played on clay, grass, carpet, indoor, outdoor, but her biggest accomplishments are on hard surfaces with 14 wins and six losses.

Romanian Tennis Federation manages Halep.

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Historic Wimbledon 2019 Finals: Djokovic Defeats Federer

Despite doing everything he could, it turned out Roger Federer has no match against Novak Djokovic with 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3).

The All England Club geared up for an epic match, but it only takes a few minutes before the crowd turned raucous. Nevertheless, Wimbledon 2019 men’s singles final between Djokovic and Federer was the longest singles final in its history. 

The clock finally stopped at 4 hours and 57 minutes. The fifth set alone lasted for more than 2 hours.

‘An incredible opportunity missed’

Djokovic was able to build consistency early on in the first set. Federer, on the other hand, made errors in the third set and tie break. Djokovic was able to save the two championship points, break back and take it to 12-12 tie-break. Djokovic also matched the two tie-breaks earlier.

In the end, Federer failed to convert the two match points he earned during the fifth set. He was a shot away from winning his ninth Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam title. He would have been the oldest male tennis player to win a major professionally.

Rafael Nadal has 18 and Djokovic, 16 against Federer’s record of 20 singles titles. The final was the Serbian’s fifth Wimbledon title, winning four of the last five of his titles. Also, Federer lost his past five matches against Djokovic in Grand Slams. The last time he defeated the Serbian was at 2012 Wimbledon.

Djokovic said that winning against Federer is “quite unreal.” On the other hand, Federer has this to say: “I will try to forget about this.”

Down in the stats

Winning the finals, Djokovic was the underdog. Federer has 79% first-serve points won against Djokovic’s 74%. He also had 25 aces and 94 winners compared with the Serbian’s 10 and 54, respectively. Finally, the new Wimbledon champion has 204 total points won and 29 total games won against Federer’s 218 and 36.

Spectators at the Centre Court gave Djokovic’s every serve error a standing ovation. He had 52 unforced errors and nine double faults. The crowd even booed him upon questioning a Hawk-Eye decision ruled in Federer’s favour.

Djokovic said that the Wimbledon championship was “the most demanding, mentally most demanding, match” he was ever part of. Not losing faith in his capabilities, he mentioned, “If you have the majority of the crowd on your side, it helps. When you don’t, then you have to find it within.”

Federer became the first man in recent history who failed to win the singles final after having match points. It is also his second-longest singles final. The first one was against Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon finals. He lost the match too.

However, this is not the first time he only needed a point from victory. He experienced the same against Kevin Anderson in Wimbledon 2018 quarter-finals and Djokovic in 2011 US Open semifinals. 

The one single win he needed didn’t come. True to his words two days before the finals, tennis can “sometimes be brutal” since there is no such thing as draw in tennis. 

Federer also announced that he would skip Montreal and move on with playing in Cincinnati and New York.