2019 Women’s Grand Slams: Who Will Challenge Serena Williams?7 min read
Unlike the men’s game, which has seen the major titles kept within a small circle of players for many years now, women’s tennis has been sharing them round almost for fun.
A period of Serena Williams dominance ended with her pregnancy and since her 2017 Australian Open triumph, seven different players have won the seven Grand Slam titles.
Williams showed when she returned to action last season that she’s very much a contender again – the odds have her favourite for three of the 2019 titles – reaching the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open, yet at the same time she didn’t show the top form of which she is capable.
She’s also now 37 and isn’t crying out to be backed in the ante-post markets. Let’s look for some alternatives…
Australian Open – Qiang Wang –
With this tournament only a month away, there’s little scope for huge price changes but one which looks a tad big right now is the 33/1 about Qiang Wang. The Chinese exploded onto the scene during the Asian swing towards the end of last season as she won in Guangzhou, finished runner-up in Hong Kong and Zhuhai and made the semis of big events in Wuhan and Beijing. And it wasn’t just the number of wins that was eyecatching, it was the quality of them too. Among her victims were Karolina Pliskova, Jelena Ostapenko, Garbine Muguruza and Daria Kasatkina.
Qiang has clearly established herself as an accomplished hardcourt player but now the questions are can she pick up where she left off and will she be able to replicate that form outside her home continent? It’s hard to be sure but the Australian Open does have Chinese history given that Li Na won the title here a few years back and made the final two other occasions. There have been other surprise finalists too such as Dominika Cibulkova and even earlier this year eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki started a bit down the betting lists. It’s hardly a price to get carried away about but is one which could represent a touch of value.
French Open – Anett Kontaveit –
— wta (@WTA) October 15, 2018
Estonian Kontaveit has played some impressive tennis on the clay over the past couple of years and if she does so again in the spring, I can see her going off considerably shorter than 50/1 at Roland Garros. The Estonian made the semi-finals in Stuttgart and Rome last season before losing to eventual runner-up Sloane Stephens in the last 16 in Paris.
Those performances built on a decent 2017 claycourt campaign, one which brought quarter-final appearances in Stuttgart and Rome, both as a qualifier. With a strong serve backed up by powerful groundstrokes, Kontaveit possesses some decent weapons in her game. If she can add a bit more variety in 2019, then she can really push on towards the top 10. From what we’ve seen in the past couple of years, the clay represents arguably her best chance of success so 50/1 looks worth a punt at this stage.
Wimbledon – Ashleigh Barty –
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 31, 2018
There aren’t too many players on the WTA who really like playing on the grass but Barty certainly does and she’s someone who could make an impact both prior to and during the grasscourt season. Still only 22, the Australian has the game to go well on this surface and she’s proved it, winning this year in Nottingham and last year reaching the final in Birmingham. It’s not difficult to see her winning plenty of matches on grass again in 2019.
However, for this price to really be significantly shorter, she’ll also need some strong results in the first half of the season but that’s perfectly feasible for the world number 15, who is one of a number of younger players who will be looking to make an impact in the new season. She finished 2018 in the best possible fashion, winning the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai and with a run of events in her home country to kick things off in the coming weeks, Barty has potential here.
US Open – Caroline Wozniacki –
Wozniacki didn’t have the best second half of 2018 but I’m a bit perplexed to see her so far down the US Open market – no fewer than 11 players are on offer at shorter odds. She remains the world number three and has reached the final in New York twice, as well as three other semi-finals. The somewhat slower courts which were in evidence last season should, in theory, aid her retrieving game a little and this is another price I can see being gone come August.
Clearly Wozniacki will need to play well between now and then but she’s more than capable of doing that. Again, it’s hardly bet-of-the-year stuff but in a market which isn’t the most enticing as things stand, this looks the best option for those looking for an ante-post selection.
Take a look at Andy Schooler’s 2019 Men’s Grand Slams ante-post predictions here!