Welcome to Destination OBN, our weekly update on all the action on the WTA Tour ahead of the National Bank Open in Montréal from August 4 to 13.
DAYS UNTIL THE NATIONAL BANK OPEN: 44
Like all islanders, regardless of their island’s size, tennis fans in Great Britain band together when the summer ushers in the uber concise grass-court swing on which they have a near-monopoly: Nottingham, Birmingham, Eastbourne and London.
There were seven astoundingly successful British players at the Rothesay Open in Nottingham (more on that later), and three of GB’s own are expected to compete in Birmingham.
As for the other members of the WTA, Maria Sakkari was the only Top 10 player in action during the first week on grass. The rest of the elite, with the exception of Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula, got back to business at the WTA 500 in Berlin, where Carol Zhao and Eugenie Bouchard were eliminated in the qualifying rounds and Bianca Andreescu is in the main draw.
Read also: Grass-Court Season Kicks Off
Stories to watch
Who’ll be the next British woman to win The Championships?
This photo of two queens was taken all the way back in 1977, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II handed the Venus Rosewater Dish to Virginia Wade, Britain’s last ladies’ singles champion.
Read also: A new battle for supremacy?
Forty-five years ago, she broke down Betty Stöve of the Netherlands (4-6, 6-3, 6-1) to become only the fifth Briton to win at home in the last 100 years.
But who’s her heir apparent?
Two years ago, when Emma Raducanu took the tennis world by storm, many would have said she was the next in line, but it’s been a rollercoaster ride for her. She’s currently the British No. 3.
Ahead of her are No. 2 Jodie Burrage and No. 1 Katie Boulter.
WTA ranking on June 19, 2023
- No. 77 Katie Boulter (26)
- No. 108 Jodie Burrage (24)
- No. 130 Emma Raducanu (20)
- No. 134 Harriet Dart (26)
- No. 137 Katie Swan (24)
- No. 145 Heather Watson (31)
The astounding British success I touched upon earlier came at the Rothesay Open in Nottingham, which wrapped up on June 18.
Read also: The Biggest Wimbledon Warm-Up Week
For the first time in WTA history, there were four British players in the quarters of a tournament: Boulter, Burrage, Harriet Dart and Heather Watson. The three who levelled up to the semis certainly generated some long-awaited hype.
So you can imagine the excitement when Boulter and Burrage went head-to-head in the first all-British WTA final in 46 years!
In the end, Katie Boulter raised the winner’s trophy at the outcome of two sets (6-3, 6-3). With her shiny new title, she moves up 49 spots in the rankings.
Of course we hope the British mission will electrify their fans from July 3 to 16, but unless Boulter has a real breakthrough, Raducanu remains the most likely player to receive the silver salver.
The drought at the All England Club shouldn’t last forever. On the men’s side, Britain had to wait 77 years after Fred Perry in 1936 for a new homegrown champion in Andy Murray.
Hope springs eternal!
Serena: Is the grass greener?
On June 13, Serena Williams was spotted at the tournament in s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.
Is she planning a big return to try to secure her 24th Grand Slam?
Definitely not. She was actually in the stands to watch Venus return to competition.
After a five-month hiatus, the elder Williams made the most of her wild card entry into the Libema Open ahead of Wimbledon.
And as is often the case, there was a generation gap—25 years, to be exact—between her and her opponent.
Currently ranked No. 696, the 42-year-old Grand Slam champion was up against No. 202 Céline Naef of Switzerland. Venus took the first set 6-3, but the 17-year-old managed to turn things around to win the next two and the match (7-6(3), 6-2).
When Wimbledon’s social media team got wind that Serena was front and centre, they promptly posted a throwback pic from when the Williams were just starting out.
Will Serena follow Venus to her next (and second last) stop in Birmingham and then to London? Does she perhaps know something we don’t about Venus saying farewell to tennis on her terms at the All England Lawn Tennis Club?
That might explain it.
The WTA's best return to Montreal this summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 13 at IGA Stadium. Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!