LONDON — Billie Jean King believes Wimbledon finalists Petra Kvitova and Eugenie Bouchard are creating one of the most exciting times in women's tennis in decades.
King ought to know. She helped start the Women's Tennis Association more than 40 years ago.
Kvitova, 24, of the Czech Republic, won the 2011 Wimbledon title. She faces Bouchard, 20, who plays in her — and Canada's — first Grand Slam final today.
They're from a generation of fitter and stronger players who have "closed the gap on power and belief" with their older contemporaries, King said at a news conference. "They have definitely caught up. Women have more confidence overall. Serena (Williams) is not in the same place as she was; she's a little more vulnerable. The men have had their 'Top 4.' Now we've got a lot of younger women who want to be here. They like the showtime."
WHAT A YEAR: Bouchard is the only woman to have advanced to all three Grand Slam tournament semifinals this year, and now she's taken it another step. She's received support from her home country, prime ministers and mayors, along with TV's The Big Bang Theory actor Jim Parsons. She finished 2013 ranked 32nd, and she's projected to improve to No. 7, the highest for a Canadian woman. She would be the youngest Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won the 2006 U.S. Open at 19.
ONLY MEETING: Kvitova and Bouchard have played just once. They faced off on hardcourts in Toronto, with Kvitova an easy winner, 6-3, 6-2.
NEW GENERATION: The final is the first to feature two players born in the 1990s. Kvitova is the only player born in that decade to win a Grand Slam — her 2011 Wimbledon title — and Bouchard is the fourth player born in the '90s to reach a Slam final. The others are French Open runnerup Simona Halep (who lost to Bouchard in the semifinals here) and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, the 2009 U.S. Open runnerup.
BOUCHARD'S PLAN: "(Kvitova) has good shots which are very powerful compared perhaps to opponents I played in the tournament. I think she will try to attack, but I will try to do the same thing. I think both of us will try to put pressure on each other. I think it will be important to start the points well on serve and on return. It will be the first shots that decide the match."