Angelique Kerber played her first official WTA match as a Grand Slam champion in Doha earlier this week, and a fan expecting a spectacular show could be forgiven for asking for her money back.
Kerber, the top seed, lost to Zheng Saisai of China—a woman ranked 71 spots below her, at No. 73—in under an hour-and-a-half, 7-5, 6-1. You knew it wasn't too competitive when the winner prefaced her post-match comments with, “For sure it wasn’t (Kerber’s) best tennis today, but. . .”
And so it goes.
In fairness to Kerber, winning a major—especially at such a late stage in the 28-year-old's career—can really knock a player for a loop. She may yet settle nicely into her new role as an elite star when the big combined hard-court events roll around. But the way things have been going in the WTA, it could just as easily go the other way.
Should Kerber find it difficult to consolidate her newfound status, she would only be demonstrating that she’s part of the gestalt. The WTA seems to have become a tour with plenty of stars, but almost no champions. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are the only two women who have the game and the temperament to compete week-in, week-out, as if their lives depended on it. The headlines coming out of the tour these days tell it all: