You’re free to cheer for whomever you’d like at the other grand slams. But for the US Open, it’s practically your civic duty to root for Team USA. Here are the top American female singles players to keep an eye out for.
As the world number 8, Serena is coming into the US Open as the highest ranked American female player. But even if she were ranked 108 she’d have opponents rattled. That’s the effect you have when Federer himself calls you “the greatest tennis player of all time”, man OR woman. She does hold 23 grand slam titles, after all. Nevertheless, Serena has had a roller coaster year. Ever since returning to the sport, after becoming a mother, she hasn’t quite found her championship form. She lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to Karolina Pliskova and was eliminated even earlier at the French Open. Despite reaching the final at Wimbledon, she was handily beaten in straight sets by Simona Halep. More worryingly, a back injury forced her to retire from the final of the Rogers Cup and the Western & Southern Open. It all leads us to wonder if the 37-year-old has it in her to win her 6th US Open title. And if she’s given the chance, will she handle herself better than she did at last year’s controversial final?
2. Madison Keys
This 24-year-old has been on fire in the past few weeks leading up to New York. She won the title in Cincinnati by taking down one giant after another: Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova. It also put her back in the WTA top 10, her highest ranking in over a year. “It’s definitely a great building block,” Keys said to the crowds after winning the title. “I want to do well in New York and have a good end to the season.” Nevertheless, in her three previous tournaments, Madison never advanced past the 2nd round, Wimbledon included. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the form she found in Cincy continues.
Sloane has historically played well at her home grand slam. In fact, she won the title in 2017. So is this her year to lift the trophy again? Hard to say. The 26-year-old reached the quarterfinals of the French Open this year, but she’s struggled during the grass court and hard court seasons. To make matters worse, she recently parted ways with her coach Sven Groeneveld after just 3 months. It remains to be seen how that decision – made a mere week before the start of the grand slam – will affect her US Open campaign. We’re hoping Sloane’s huge swing and aggressive mindset carry her deep in the tournament.
4. Sofia Kenin
This 20-year-old may have only 2 WTA titles to her name, but the Russian-born player is not to be underestimated. It’s been a year of upsets for the youngster. Sofia defeated reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka to reach the semifinals in Cincinnati and at the French Open she took out Serena to reach the 4th round. Solid net play, excellent drop shots and heavy groundstrokes make her game a formidable one. This girl is one to watch out for.
There’s a good reason New Balance sponsors this 25-year-old Floridian. She’s best known for her fierce, fighting spirit, punishing backhand and ease at the net. 2018 was a breakthrough year for Collins which saw her reach the WTA top 50. She outdid herself this year reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open, a career best. Something tells us she’ll pull out all the stops for the home crowd in NYC.
6. Alison Riske
This Pittsburgh native, and current world number 36, has had one hell of a year. First, she reached her first grand slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. Two weeks later, she found herself walking down the aisle to marry her long-time partner. Could the combination of professional and personal success lead to a triumph in New York? That would be a love story we could get behind.
7. Monica Puig
Hailing from Puerto Rico but residing in Miami, 25-year-old Monica Puig rose to tennis stardom in the summer of 2016, when she won the Olympic singles gold medal in Rio de Janeiro as an unseeded player. Before that, she had won her first WTA title in 2014, and then followed it up with a victory at the WTA Rising Stars Invitational that same year. 2019 has been a solid one for her and she’ll be entering the US Open with a respectable ranking of 44th in the world. Her secret weapon? Coach Kamau Murray, who’s best known for having coached Sloane Stephens to the US Open title in 2017. No doubt about it – Monica will be going for gold again.
Seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams is proof that age is just a number. The 39-year-old, who’s played professionally since 1994, shows no signs of slowing down. In 2017 she reached two grand slam finals and a semi. Since then, she’s remained strong and steady. More recently, in Cincinnati, she knocked out defending champion Kiki Bertens, despite the heat. If she were to pull off a win at the US Open, it would make her the oldest woman to win a grand slam tournament in the open era, an honor currently held by her sister Serena who won her last title at age 35.
9. Coco Gauff
This 15-year-old tennis phenom was thrust onto the world stage this year after her impressive winning streak at Wimbledon defeating the likes of Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog to reach the 4th She then followed it up nicely with a doubles victory in DC, and it’s leading us to think she could make a big splash at her inaugural appearance in New York. Are you as #LocoForCoco as we are?
10. Naomi Osaka
We’ve included Naomi on this list since she has lived in the US since she was three years of age. Although she was born in Japan and plays under their flag, we can all agree on her honorary American status, right? Great. So how do we think the reigning US Open champion and current world number one will fare this year? Naomi started 2019 strong capturing her 2nd grand slam title at the Australian Open. But less impressive performances at the French Open and Wimbledon soon followed suit. To make matters worse, Naomi hasn’t seem to find her aggressive edge and retired recently with a knee injury in the Cincinnati quarterfinals. We’re depending on the fans to rally around this champion and give her the strength to end her year as strongly as she started it. Let’s see if she can recover her game on the big NY stage.
Other female compatriots we’ll be keeping our sights on? Jessica Pegula, Jennifer Brady, Caty McNally, Whitney Osuigwe, Lauren Davis and Madison Brengle. Go Team USA!
For More on the US Open: