With Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, among others, men’s tennis is in a good place.

Women’s tennis, not so much.

Serena Williams, who has been absent from the tour for the last year due to the birth of her first child, has opted out of the Australian Open. That’s certainly understandable, but women’s tennis is waiting and wishing and hoping for other players to step up and become household names.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

“I think Serena is the name everybody knows, and the fact that she’s been absent for an entire year hasn’t been great,” New York Times global sports columnist Christopher Clarey said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Although (with) the magazine covers and all the news that she’s been making, she’s still a part of the picture in a lot of ways. She’s hard to ignore in that way. The surprising thing is that nobody has stepped up consistently.”



Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, for example, fell to 88th-ranked Hsieh Su-wei in the Round of 64 on Thursday.

“Muguruza is a wonderful power player when she’s on, but she’s very erratic,” Clarey said. “She lost today, got upset. And then (Angelique) Kerber, who was the dominant player for a while when Serena was still playing, kind of fell off the cliff last year. She’s coming back strong this year, but nobody’s been really consistent. So it’s hard for the general public to really get a sense of the rivalries or really get sense of who to focus on. But there are some very, very strong players coming up.”

That includes 22-year-old American Madison Keys. Sloane Stephens, meanwhile, has been in a slump since the US Open last September.

“Sloane Stephens, who won the US Open in such dramatic, interesting fashion last year, has not won a match since (then),” Clarey said. “So there’s been a lot of inconsistencies.”

Listen Live