The Season ahead without Serena, what is in store for us??

Sports news doesn’t get much bigger than that in my eyes! Firstly, congratulations to Serena and Alexis after the announcement that they are going to become parents earlier this week. It won’t just be me and millions of other fans that will miss her on court, the game itself also will. Wozniacki, Azarenka and Angie, amongst others have been sending their good wishes here. What an achievement to win the Australian Open at 8 weeks without dropping a set, that’s some going! I think people are putting that into perspective and realising that’s unreal! Some think that might be the end of her career now, but I’m not so sure about that. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see her lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish in 2018! Would you? She says she will come back in 2018, so we will have to wait and see, Either way, I think the decision she will make will be understandable. G.O.A.T.

So who are the main beneficiaries of this? There are plenty of players who will be eyeing different slams, knowing this is a huge opportunity. Venus for another Wimbledon maybe?, Jo Konta??? The possibilities are endless. A look into the betting markets shows how open it is! Garbine Muguruza being favourite for the French and Angie Kerber being favourite for Wimbledon pretty much says it all. Both are favourites due to being the champion and last year’s runner-up, in both cases to Serena. Though more than capable I would be surprised to see either of them lift those particular trophies this year. Could someone like Kuznetsova take the French again? It’s so open in Paris this year. Sharapova will feel her chances have improved immensely at RG now. Keeping an eye out on an outsider like Carla Suarez Navarro, who can put in some plucky efforts. Someone can just come out of the blue and win this right now, who can keep their heads? Wimbledon is very open as well. Can Karolina Pliskova get that serve firing for two weeks? Behind her they are queuing up, Madison Keys, Coco and Venus will all feel like they have great chances to name a few. Got a feeling Venus could slip under the radar here. Petra will also be back and her grass court pedigree has to be respected! Then, of course, there is Jo Konta who had she not ran into Serena at the Oz would have probably made the final. I think Pavy will have another good run at a slam, Wimbledon or the US and the same applies to Mladenovic. Svitolina is another name that is thrown around but I still need to see more from her in a ‘big business end’ type match. By the time the US swing comes around, Vika Azarenka will be back in action. In the past, she has shown her hard court prowess and she will be looking to hit the ground running in the absence of Serena. To get on the board quickly again on returning from pregnancy, on her favourite surface looks a big possibilty. Was she a few weeks pregnant when she won Miami?? The maths suggest so but I have never seen it confirmed! The same will apply going into the Oz as she is already a two-time champion at Melbourne Park. Outside of Vika, there is a whole host of players licking their lips. All of the above and certainly the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, who has a proven track record over at Flushing Meadows. Players of the Daria Kastakina/Anna Konjuh ilk and the stroppy Jelena Ostapenko will also look to make their mark in the coming months. Sloane Stephens will also return to action just before Wimbledon, so its wide open and up for grabs at the top!

Andy Del Potro

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