With the bulbs of the cameras flashing incessantly around her, Sofia Kenin hoisted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup on Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena after enamoring audiences around the world with her aggressive play, relentless self-belief and endearing speech about her lifelong dream coming true. It was the 21-year old’s maiden Grand Slam title, and she became the first American to win a major since Sloane Stephens in 2017, and the youngest to do so since Serena Williams in 2002.
As tennis is largely considered the most lucrative of the professional sports for women, it is obvious why it tends to attract some of the world’s greatest female athletes.
Kenin’s family, which emigrated from Russia when she was an infant, followed the blueprint set by five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in getting into the sport. Gauff’s father has talked about watching and learning from Serena and Venus Williams and their father Richard. Seeing these examples perhaps makes the game seem more accessible for interested young players than it previously did.