A group of American women had noteworthy accomplishments at the 2017 Australian Open. For a few days they made American tennis great again.
CoCo Vandeweghe showed that she is a rising star for the Americans. The question is whether she will become a consistent top 10 contender or flame out like others before her.
Nicole Gibbs and Jennifer Brady demonstrated that it is possible to go the route seldom taken. They played college tennis before joining the professional circuit full-time. Most players avoid college and work with the USTA Player Development Program instead. Gibbs played three years at Stanford and was an All-American and two-time NCAA single champion. Brady was an All-American in her two years at UCLA.
Mirjana Lučić-Baroni, a 34-year old Croatian, surprised many by reaching the semifinals before being ousted by Venus Williams. Lučić-Baroni was a top junior in the late 1990s before dropping off the screen. Her comeback now includes a spot in the top 50 in the world. It remains to be seen if she has the staying power to maintain her current ranking.
These were great accomplishments; however, they were overshadowed by the success of the Williams sisters. Their journey to the finals t will likely be their last Grand Slam singles finals against each other as Serena captured her 23rd Grand Slam singles final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over the 36-year old Venus.
Led by the Williams sisters, the American women were a dominant force Down Under. Of the 18 Americans, only 7 were defeated in the first round: Louisa Chirico, Madison Brengle, Christina McHale, Lauren Davis, Vania King, Anna Tatishvili, and Kayla Day. This group of young women have experienced success as junior players, but struggled in their transition to the professional game.
Five women won their first round match before being bumped in the second round: Samantha Crawford, Shelby Rogers, Varvara Lepchenko, Julia Boserup, and Irina Falconi.
Alison Riske and Nicole Gibbs posted two wins before exiting in the round of 32.
Jennifer Brady exited in the round of 16 with three wins, while Vandeweghe was 5-1 before losing in the semis. Coco”s victories included a convincing upset of Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.
Overall, the American women won 30 matches and lost 17. Combined, the Williams sisters won 13 of the 30 matches won by American women.
Congratulations to Serena for adding her 23rd Grand Slam and to Venus for showing the world that a 36-year-old woman can play tennis with the best of the young whippersnappers. For a few days in Melbourne, these ladies helped make American tennis great again.