Will Roger Federer and Serena Williams ever be able to return to top form?
Federer and Williams have not looked like the tennis superstars they were for a long time, but we take a look at their future to see if they will again.
As Wimbledon 2022 enters its second week with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic vying for another Grand Slam win, the world of tennis has already seen all of what Roger Federer and Serena Williams could accomplish at this tournament, as the American lost in the first round and Federer was only seen in a suit. In 2002 Serena won her first Wimbledon title, and Roger’s came along in 2003. Two decades later, the 40-year-olds are constantly battling injuries, but no tennis fan has lost hope of seeing them return.
Williams’ short-lived 2022 Wimbledon
Williams lost in a gruesome three-hour duel against Harmony Tan, by going 5-7 6-1 and 6-7 against Tan in what was the seven-time Wimbledon winner’s reappearance at a Grand Slam court in the same round she got injured in during Wimbledon 2021.
After her loss, Williams explained that she does not as of now have a fixed schedule for the rest of the season and that she will just play it by ear as to what tournaments to play in. “I don’t know where I’ll pop up next,” she said when asked whether this could be her last match at the All England Club, not committing to being at September’s US Open either, but still leaving the door open. The 40-year-old had a strong set where she looked like the powerful player she used to be, but both the rust of having played just three matches in the past year and her age showed against an opponent who was two years old when Serena won her first major title.
Federer prepares for 2023 comeback
Roger Federer’s last match was also at last year’s All England Club tournament, where he got to the quarter-finals before losing against Hubert Hurkacz in three straight sets. He was ranked number eight in the world that day, but given the ATP decision to strip Wimbledon points this year and the back injury that has prevented Roger from stepping on the court for the past year, he’s set to disappear from the rankings next week. The Swiss tennis legend also decided to show up in this year’s Wimbledon, but only in a ceremonial capacity as Wimbledon’s most laureate singles player, where he was welcomed back during Center Court’s 100-year anniversary ceremony just before Djokovic’s fourth round match.
Federer does have more of a defined calendar for his next tennis showings, with the 2022 Laver Cup, where he will play alongside Nadal and other European stars, as the next time tennis fans will get to see his impressive single-handed backhand in action. After that, his plan is to play in the ATP circuit the same way he has for the past six or five years, carefully picking his contests to give himself the best chance to win whenever he plays. If last year’s Wimbledon, where he beat Richard Gasquet or 2022′s quarterfinalist Cameron Norrie, is any indication, it would seem like he still has the tennis to play against the best.
Looking to return to winning ways
Men’s tennis hierarchy has not changed as much as one would have expected during his absence. Next-Gen players have established themselves at the top of the rankings, with Medvedev and Zverev destined to be the top-two by next week, but Nadal has won both the Australian Open and Roland Garros while Djokovic looks like the prohibitive favorite on the grass this year. That is not the situation at the WTA Circuit, where new stars like Iga Swiatek or Ons Jabeur have taken the spotlight from more veteran players like the Williams sisters.
The next months will therefore be crucial to see which level Williams can get back to, with the US Open as a make-or-break scenario where she will have to prove whether she can be the force she once was even as she gets older. Serena is the oldest woman to ever win a Grand Slam, back in the 2017 Australian Open, but she will try to beat her own mark by more than five years. As for Federer, his technical style and quick-paced tennis should help him not have such a physical load as he tries to get back to his winning ways in 2023 and give us one more year of brilliance alongside Nadal and Djokovic, the three best players men’s tennis has ever seen.