The Queenless Era Of Tennis

Alejandro MullerCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2008

In an era of men's tennis where we have gotten used to seeing the same name on top week after week, and changes are as rare as a Rafael Nadal loss on clay, the women's top spot is as volatile as Andy Roddick's game ever since Federer got in his head.

With the retirement of Justine Henin in May, the women's tour has seen four different number ones, and the longest stay at the spot of honor has been nine weeks.  Why is this happening? Who is going to take over? Answers are ahead.

Let's rewind five years.  Andy Roddick ends 2003 as the number one player in the world and loses the spot to Roger Federer on Feb. 1. Enough said.  

But if we take a closer look at 2003, from April to November, we see four different number ones, and absolutely no stability or domination in the men's game.  The reason? Greatness only comes once in a while.

2003 was a transition year for the men after a two-year monopoly by Leyton Hewitt, and a complete domination by Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the '90s.  

And now has come time for the women to transition into a new era.  Serena's time at the top came to an end, and then Justine Henin retired unexpectedly, leaving the top spot in women's tennis up for grabs.

Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have all had a taste, but none has kept a strong enough hold.  And the biggest problem is that Henin didn't hand the torch to, say, a Rafael Nadal, she just threw it up and no one was there to catch it.  

So who will light it up and take it into the next decade? Which of these four women will step up and get a chokehold on the coveted spot? Probably none of them.  

You see, in 2003, the four number one ranked players were: Andre Agassi (on his way out), Juan Carlos Ferrero (clay-courter), Leyton Hewitt (had already completed his long run), and Andy Roddick (not consistent or mentally stable enough).

None of them were named Roger Federer, and all of them had to stand back and watch the Fed-express pass by in 2004.  

As for these women, Serena Williams already had a great run, Jelena Jankovic is too volatile, Maria Sharapova has injury and consistency problems, and Ana Ivanovic is probably the most inconsistent of the four.

So get ready, wait and watch closely, because when we least expect it, the next great one will blindside us and make us forget about the transition era of 2008.