Welcome to Shades Of, where SI experts discuss young, emerging stars across all sports in the context of which current veterans or retired athletes they draw comparisons to, based on everything from stats to stature, style and more.
Who does Amanda Anisimova remind you of?
Just when we thought the teenage tennis phenom was becoming an endangered species, Amanda Anisimova arrived to remind us otherwise. A Jersey Girl by birth who came of age training in Florida, Anisimova was 17 when she reached the semifinals of the 2019 French Open, beating defending champion Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4 in the process to become the youngest player to reach the Roland Garros semifinals since 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. Equally ferocious and precocious, Anisimova wins by smacking the yellow felt off the ball; but comports herself with a mature and measured poise that suggests she never considers losing to be an option.
For all sort of reasons—her blond mane; her tall, angled physique; the flat, pace-laced right-handed ground strokes; the last three letters of her surname—Anisimova draws immediate comparisons to Maria Sharapova, who retired in 2020 as one of the most decorated players of this millennium. Anisimova, though, has a less likely analogue in Jimmy Connors. In addition to applying the identical forehand grip as Connors, Anisimova plays well on all surfaces, possesses a deceptively soft touch when required, and shares his relentless unwillingness to leave the court as anything other than the winner. Even restricted by age eligibility rules and even after a 2019 hiatus as she mourned the unexpected death of her father, Anisimova is closing in on 100 career match wins on the WTA Tour. And she doesn’t turn 20 until next August 31.
After losing in the third round to Maria Sakkari at the 2020 U.S. Open, Anisimova enters Roland Garros looking to build on her 2019 breakout performance.