American tennis historical past is crammed with the boldest of boldface names—trailblazers and superstars comparable to Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Stan Smith, and Chris Evert amongst many, many others who reached the heights of world fame and renown. Whereas every era had its personal heroes, it wasn’t till the ’90s, when an explosion of expertise and persona introduced us Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Todd Martin, and Michael Chang, that a complete cohort of Individuals dominated the worldwide stage on the identical time.
Their contrasts in types, personalities, and paths to greatness commanded unrelenting protection and a spot in well-liked tradition till the ’00s launched two Williams sisters from Compton, California, who first challenged, then dominated, and in the end remodeled the game in their very own picture—Venus turning into the activist inheritor to Billie Jean King, and Serena ascending to dizzying movie star heights. They’ve largely developed away from taking part in simply as leisure participation and curiosity within the skilled realms are on the cusp of surpassing the glory days of the ’80s.
After many years of hand-wringing about who would take up the mantle, their heirs are actually coming into their very own. The present subject of American professional tennis gamers is essentially the most thrilling, proficient, and assorted we’ve seen in many years—women and men alike. Each excursions’ deep benches are dominating the game’s competitions, and the worldwide sport closest to paying women and men equally for his or her efforts is benefiting doubly for it.
However simply my favourite half about this new crop is their swagger. Their lack of bags. Their feeling that American tennis historical past is simply that—historical past. And their willpower to write down themselves into it. Behind the scenes on the French Open in Paris, VF surveyed the rising stars of American tennis as they headed into one other spectacular season.
From: Hyattsville, Maryland
Highest rating: 10