Most sports fanatics are getting their fill with the array of showcased agility on display this June — including the wrap-up of the NBA and Stanley Cup finals and the kick-off of summer seasons. Another one of these events is the conclusion of the Women’s Tennis Associations’ (WTA) clay court season, which will be followed by the much anticipated grass court season (meaning that the infamous Wimbledon will be played in less than two weeks).

While many fans and commentators offered well-deserved praise to the now two-time French Open Champion, 7th ranked Maria Sharapova, certain fans (like yours truly) could not help but watch in amazement as a new generation of female tennis players made their mark by occupying the majority of quarter and semifinal slots.

tennis-251907_640In what came as a shock to spectators, the number one (Serena Williams) and two seed (Li Na) were both eliminated from the French Open by the second round of play. After a commanding performance in the first round, Williams was once again the anticipated favorite for the French title; that is, of course, until round two.  Spain’s young and unseeded Garbiñe Muguruza, who turned pro in 2012, swiftly took control of the match against Williams and won in straight sets (6-2, 6-2).  Similarly, Li Na’s first round opponent, France’s twenty-one year old Kristina Mladenovic, beat out the veteran in a three setter that clearly swung in her direction by the final set (7-5, 3-6, 6-1).  With the number one and two seeded players out before the round of sixteen, viewers and sports writers alike were forced to re-examine the tournament brackets to establish who amongst the new generation of female tennis player had what it took to thwart one of the few remaining seasoned players: Maria Sharapova.

As the tournament continued, notably young and not so highly ranked players began their run to the semifinals. The 18th seed and 2013 WTA Newcomer of the Year, Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard, proved that her menial pro experience and youth was not a deterrent in her push to the semis by only dropping a single set before her loss to Sharapova in the semifinal (4-6, 7-5, 2-6).  On the other end of the bracket, Germany’s 28th seed, Andrea Petkovic, also held her own against Simona Halep, the twenty-two-year-old, 4th seeded Romanian.  Both athletes performed admirably, but Halep ultimately snatched the win in a two set victory (6-2, 77-64).

The tournament revealed many new and talented faces over the course of its two-week run, and it highlighted what every professional sport organization must recognize: A new era is on its way.  Although experience proved a well-endowed tool for Sharapova as she clinched the three set nail bitter against Halep (6-4, 65 -77, 6-4) and took her second French Open title home, her competition amidst the quarterfinals and beyond demonstrates a shift in the tennis world. While there does not seem to be a strength/agility spectrum shift in the game as there was with Martina Navratilova and the Williams sisters, there is unquestionably a new group slicing their path to the top-ranked seats in the WTA.

When unseeded athletes knock out the top players in any division of athletics, it’s worth paying attention.  In this case, it will be worth watching. These young ladies, clearly, are here to stay.

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