Impudence of youth a distant memory for Paris women

Updated: May 27, 2010, 12:25 PM IST

Paris: Improving with age is a euphemism not taken to kindly by some women but it would seem in tennis that quality, these days certainly, comes with experience.

Denmark`s Caroline Wozniacki is the only teenager in the top 25-ranked women at this year`s French Open, an event where the energy, vitality and innocence of youth used to dominate like at no other slam.

"I think it`s really tough at the top at the moment there are so many great players up there," the 19-year-old Wozniacki told reporters on Monday after a straightforward 6-0, 6-3 first round win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva on Monday.

Compare this year`s crop of women`s contenders with those of the 1980s and 1990s.

When Steffi Graf claimed the first of her six titles in 1987, she started a run of six years that saw a teenager take the world`s most coveted clay prize.

Monica Seles won the first of three straight crowns aged just 16 in 1990 while Graf and Spain`s Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, aged 17 when she took the 1989 title, dominated the red clay of Roland Garros.

Now the world numbers one and two are 28 and 29, Serena and Venus Williams adding weight to the theory that the age of the impudent teenager is over for now.

"I think pretty much everyone got older and aged," Serena, winner of the 2002 title at 20, said after her first-round defeat of Swiss Stefanie Voegele.

"I was also a teenager once. I was in the top 25, but I ended up getting older, unfortunately. It`s inevitable."

Kimiko Date Krumm, four months short of her 40th birthday, takes on last year`s finalist Dinara Safina in the first round on Tuesday, 21 years after the Japanese made her grand slam bow at Roland Garros.

The only older women`s player to reach the second round here was Britain`s Virginia Wade in 1985, and if the growing trend is to be believed Safina, who was three when Krumm debuted in Paris, will be wary of respecting her elders.

Bureau Report