(April 8th, 2013) -- Serena Williams
and her "chat" with Jelena Jankovic
prior to the World No.1 going on to win her 49th career WTA title at the Family Circle Cup is what many may be buzzing about now. But there was a lot more that happened last week in Charleston that was worth paying attention to in the weeks and months to come.
- Serena proved once again that age really is a number when it comes to being the best in the world. But Charleston was also a showcase for a plethora of young talent - many who weren't afraid to say they were ready to take on the world.
Puerto Rico's Monica Puig
, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard
, France's Caroline Garcia
were just a few of the names worth remembering and keeping an eye on as they move up the ranks. If many are worried when the next group of WTA stars will arrive, all I can say is you won't have to wait long.
Americans in the Mix
- While it's expected that a U.S. based event will attract local talent to play, what was a nice surprise was to see so many American women advance into the middle of the week. 14 U.S. women were in the main draw and seven of them reached the third round, the most number to do so at the event since 1983. From rising talents like Mallory Burdette, Madison Keys
and Jessica Pegula
to veterans Varvara Lepchenko
and Bethanie Mattek-Sands
, it's clear that the Williams Sisters won't be the only Americans we'll be talking about this year.
The lone disappointment was once again Sloane Stephens
who crashed out in her opening round match. Stephens, who didn't look like she even wanted to be on court, is only too ready to head back to Europe and the red clay. And it's also because she wants to escape what she feels is overbearing media coverage since her run to the semis of Melbourne. With her game and her emotions in flux, American fans should probably lower their expectations of the 20-year-old until she sorts out what she really wants from tennis right now.
Venus at the Crossroads
- While Venus Williams
took away a lot of positives during her week in Charleston, there was also a lingering feeling that the seven time Major champion is very much at a crossroads in her career. She did make her first semifinal of the year and proved she is capable of beating a majority of players on tour. But her quick dismissal at the hands of her younger sister continued the recent trend of Venus getting blown out when facing the tour's elite.
After achieving her goal of making the Olympics last year, Venus said that staying healthy so that she can perform at her best is what she's focusing on for 2013. If Venus thinks she can win one more Major is something only she knows, but how she views her results at the end of this year could well determine how much longer she continues to remain a presence in the sport.
The J.J. Show
- It's clear that Jelena Jankovic has been sorely missed. And not just her tennis. The larger-than-life Serbian star delighted fans in Charleston with her over the top personality and the media to some truly hilarious press conferences. But Jankovic will be the first to tell you that she wants to be back at the top and it's obvious that the WTA needs her star power to become a constant presence again in the later stages of events.
We all love the drama and craziness she can can bring to a match. But Jankovic, who achieved her 500th career win last week, wants to be known more her on-court results than the amount of laughter she can cause. If Jankovic is serious as she says she is about training harder and recommitting even more to the game, then we could be in for a real treat this year.
- Finally, Charleston and the Family Circle Cup is truly a tennis's lover dream event. From the great food, the hospitality of the staff and the cozy surroundings, no wonder so many players and fans keep coming back each year.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)