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2:58 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Wimbledon Watch: New Faces As Women's Tennis Makes A Comeback

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 3:42 pm

Sports correspondent Tom Perrotta, writes that “women’s tennis has finally found its future.” And it’s beyond the hands of Maria Sharapova, or Serena and Venus Williams.

American Sloane Stevens, 21, lost on day one of Wimbledon yesterday, but 18-year-old Taylor Townsend plays today. They’re both up-and-coming players to watch, along with 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who also plays today.

All three are part of a generation of players born in the 1990s that are heralding a new era in women’s tennis. Perotta join’s Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the fresh faces to watch.

Guest

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Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

It's day two of Wimbledon. Let's check in with sports correspondent Tom Perrotta, who joins us from the All England Club. And Tom, we're going to give just two results with spoiler alerts, so heads-up to people on that. But first, you've been writing in the Wall Street Journal about new faces in women's tennis?

TOM PEROTTA, BYLINE: There's a lot of women coming up now around the age of 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 who are really playing well. And it's a talent influx that the women's game has really needed. There was one woman in the final of French Open, Simona Halep, who put on a great performance - lost in three sets to Maria Sharapova - but there are many many others. And people who watch women's tennis have been waiting for this for a long time. Serena and Venus Williams have been on top for years. And it's - finally, we're seeing some new people who look like they could be champions.

YOUNG: Well, but one of the new faces you're watching - that of 21-year-old American Sloane Stephens. She's the African-American from Florida. Her father was a football player. She lost yesterday. Now, one loss is not a conclusion, but does this maybe underscore that, you know, some of these people are very young and maybe not quite ready?

PEROTTA: Yeah, we're going to have to see about all that stuff. That was a surprising - a tough loss for Stephens. It's the first time she's ever lost to anyone ranked lower than her at a Grand Slam tournament in her career. Yeah, they're going to need time. They're going to need season. But I think what stands out about a lot of these women is that they seem to be embracing that moment a little bit better than women who are about three, four, five years older than them, who haven't quite been able to challenge the best players in the game.

YOUNG: Well, you're also watching the 21-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, 18-year-old American Taylor Townsend, who, you know, won raves in Paris, and another American, 19-year-old Madison Keys. What do you like about all of them?

PEROTTA: Bouchard really probably has the most - right now, seems to have the most potential of anyone in that generation because she's super, super competitive. She's big, athletic. She has powerful serve, weapons everywhere else and just seems to really shine, you know, in the moment and wants to be great.

And Keys has one of the biggest serves in the game already, at 19. And she has a lot of firepower and really has done great on grass. She won a grass court tournament over the weekend, which I think is her first title, and she was great.

And Townsend is throwback player who's really interesting. She likes to volley, and she has a lot of touch, but she's left handed, and she is a big forehand - lot of character and personality on the court. And she has some seasoning to go. Her ranking's lower right now. But mainly, it's that they all seem to have a lot of presence.

YOUNG: Well, and all of them are playing right now, so we know people want to watch the results at night, and we'll let you do that. But we're going to give one result right now - spoiler alert, spoiler alert - because we want to talk about Agnieszka Radwanska. Now, you point out she's slightly older than the women we've been talking about. She's all of 25, from Poland. She won today. And you call her the most creative woman in tennis. Why?

PEROTTA: I think she might be the most creative player in tennis, not just the most creative woman in tennis. She's very delicate, small, doesn't have a lot of power. Her her hands are really amazing. She has great drop shots and touch. She's great around the net. And she routinely hits shots that look like magic tricks. It's just the way she is. And, you know, she grew up in Poland learning from her father - didn't really train, you know, at an academy like a lot of players do - so really has a much different game and it's really fun to watch.

YOUNG: Well, so keep your eye on Agnieszka Radwanska from Poland. Well, we've been looking at women, but a quick look at the men again. And while we're in spoiler alert territory, Roger Federer also won today. How did he look?

PEROTTA: He looked great. He won very easily. He says, he feels fit. He's moving really well, hitting the ball clean, and he's going to be in the running here. And if he wins, it would be his eighth at Wimbledon, and it would be his 18th for his career, which is, you know, already an all-time record.

YOUNG: Sports correspondent Tom Perrotta at Wimbledon, which is in day two today. Tom, thanks so much.

PEROTTA: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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