Sports

Evert: No lack of stardust even after Serena retires

Evert says star power of women's game will not wane even after Williams calls it a day

Serena Williams has been ruling women's tennis for the last 15 years, winning 21 Grand Slams.

But, at 34, there will come a day before she inevitably calls time on her remarkable career.

There are some who dread that when that day comes, women's tennis will lose the star power the American brings to the sport.

Not Chris Evert.

The 18-time Grand Slam winner, who is in town for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global, told The New Paper yesterday the women's game has enough depth to produce another big star.

Said Evert (right): "When Bjorn Borg retired (at the age of 26 in 1983), I thought, 'Tennis is going to fall apart, the men's game will never be the same'.

"But, after a year, it was fine. It settled down, new stars emerged.

"Women's tennis has always been in a healthy state.

"More than ever now, there are more diversity and choices in terms of players' personalities, which part of the world they're from.

"I see so much more depth in the game, in personalities, characters and leadership... I am really adamant when I say this: women's tennis will be fine. No matter what happens."

One player who could take over the mantle from Williams is Maria Sharapova, whom Evert somewhat surprisingly views as having more hunger than the current world 
No. 1.

"Maria has that gift, she has that hunger," said the 60-year-old of the 28-year-old Russian.

UNBELIEVABLE

"Maybe it's because of where she's come from and she doesn't forget her roots... She didn't forget that she went over (to the US) with her dad and he took on two jobs to support her at (Nick) Bollettieri's (tennis academy).

"For whatever reason, she is unbelievable. Even more so than Serena, I find. Because Serena will go in and out of hunger, but Maria always has it in every match, every tournament... She just makes things happen, and it's phenomenal."

Evert also tipped 22-year-old Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who earlier this week celebrated a career-high ranking of No. 3, to be the next big star in women's tennis.

"She has a great attitude and will not let the momentum slip like maybe a Eugenie Bouchard (who slipped from world No. 5 to 48 in the last 12 months) did or other players in the past," Evert said of Muguruza.

"It (climbing to the top) has made (Muguruza) more determined than ever to get to the next step. She has all the makings of a No. 1 player."

Evert is so impressed with Muguruza that she is backing her to win the Australian Open in January.

"Yeah, oh yeah," the American said, when asked if Muguruza had a good shot at winning her first Grand Slam title of her career.

"The freshness of being in the top two or three in the world, the lack of experience of winning big tournaments or big matches like Serena or Sharapova... That could be the only thing working against her.

"But I definitely could see her winning."

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