As Venus and Serena contested the oldest major final ever at the Australian Open, their runs to the final highlighted the fact that moments like this may not happen again. The faces of American women’s tennis for almost two decades, Venus and Serena are nearing the end of their legendary careers. And while Serena sits atop the world rankings, at the age of 35, time will eventually catch up with her. For years, tennis pundits have been trying to find the heirs to the Williams’s sister legacy and each time the chosen girl has faltered. Tennis is hard to predict but at the moment there are several American women that seemed primed to make a push towards the top of the tennis world.

Yet, it seems like there are factors that always stop them.

The younger generation does not seem as hungry

When Venus and Serena first began their careers, they had American players like Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati breathing down their necks. Seles was towards the end of her career and faded away but the other two (especially Capriati) were constantly working to improve their games. Something that all four women had was a competitiveness and hunger to succeed no matter what. Serena (in particular) hates to lose and lets everyone know that she will smash anyone who tries to get in her way. The American players of this generation do not appear to have that type of hunger.

Some seem more interested in the celebrity while others are a little too good natured for the demands of the professional circuit. And while Coco Vandeweghe did make the semi-finals at the Australian Open, there have been other young American women that have done well in Australia and not built upon that momentum.

Tennis is a sport where you get what you give and often times, the younger generation of America players do not seem willing to put their hearts on the line and show the people how much they care.

Mental weakness is prevalent

Women’s tennis has changed dramatically since the 1990’s. Back in those days, it was fairly normally for a seventeen year old to win a major.

For example, Serena won her first major at the US Open in 1999 at that age. As tennis has become more physically demanding the emergence of young talent has been replaced by the staying power of veterans. The day in and day out grind of playing so many matches and tournaments is something that many of the young American women struggle with. They will play well at one event and then have a head scratching result the next week. This problem seems to effect all of the American women from Madison Keys to Sloane Stephens. Mental toughness in the pressure moments is what separates the best players from the ones that hover around the top 100. At the ages of 36 and 35 respectively, Venus and Serena still want the spotlight on them.

If the American women want to ever emerge from the shadows of two of the best players ever, they need to be bolder and embrace the pressure.

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