For the past few seasons, the men’s tennis circuit has been dominated by three names: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. In fact, the last time someone other than that trio took home a Grand Slam men’s title was 2016, when Stan Wawrinka won the U.S. Open.
In the women’s circuit, meanwhile, some of the most surprising and impressive performances of recent years have come from a range of talented athletes.
True, a few critics have argued that the lack of a single dominating force creates marketing challenges for the sport. However, the unpredictability of the recent tournaments has also ignited fresh interest among new and old fans.
Below are four women to keep an eye on during the U.S. Open, to be held in New York from Aug. 26 to Sept. 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
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The 37-year-old tennis superstar has faced struggles since returning to competition after the birth of her daughter, but Williams has come achingly close to victory at the last two Wimbledon tournaments — and at the 2018 U.S. Open. Barring injuries, there’s a good chance she could find her way to the finals once again at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
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The No. 2-ranked pro will look to defend her 2018 U.S. Open title, which she won in a surprising (and polarizing) victory against Serena Williams. The 21-year-old Osaka has some wind at her back, after dominating the Australian Open, but she crashed out of Wimbledon last month in the first round.
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After a string of big wins this year, including at the Miami Open and French Open, the native Australian rocketed to the No. 1 spot in global rankings. That means she’ll have a big bullseye on her at the U.S. Open, but the 23-year-old is a strong player on hard surfaces and so remains a favorite to prevail.
Cori “Coco” Gauff
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At just 15 years of age, Gauff captivated the world when she defeated Venus Williams at Wimbledon in July in her first appearance at the tournament. All eyes will be on her at the U.S. Open to see if the Florida native can continue her winning streak.
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