Chris Evert has tipped both Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep to be among the WTA players to watch in the next 12 months.
The 18-time Grand Slam champion believes that 2018 promises to be a fascinating time for the game as there are so many players vying to become WTA World No.1.
Simona Halep will finish the year ranked first, yet Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Garbiñe Muguruza have all had spells in top spot.
Evert predicts that next year, however, things will get even more competitive with the anticipated return of 28-year-old Azarenka, who has been unable to play in recent months due to personal issues.
“I think next year with Vika Azarenka back full time and Maria Sharapova seeming to be getting better, having just won a tournament and having had that big win at the US Open. If she stays healthy, she'll be a force to reckon with,” she told The Times of India.
“Petra Kvitova has come back and Serena should be back.
“Then there's this crop, Garbiñe Muguruza has all the potential in the world and Simona Halep. I'd be shocked if Simona doesn't win a Grand Slam next year. She almost had a great year, she should've won the French Open, she should've won Wimbledon and she could've won the US Open. If she just won the big match. I think it's going to be a banner year next year for women's tennis.”
Evert believes that a burning desire for success is what differentiates champions from contenders and has pinpointed the determination of Serena, one of only four women to hold more Grand Slam singles crowns than Evert, as the factor that makes her special.
“I think it is hunger. How much do you want it?” she said. “I think belief also plays a part. The players that want it badly make it happen easier than the players who don't want it that badly. They have to work harder.
“Serena is a different kind of competitor because she has it all. I mean, she has all the money in the world, all the fame and yet she's still as hungry as ever.”
The 36-year-old American gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., earlier this year and Evert believes it will have a major impact on her life.
“Before she had the baby, she was like I'm coming back. And I was like, we'll see, we'll see...” she said. “You never know when that baby is born how you feel. I know when my kids were born I didn't want to venture out, take one step out of the house. I wanted to be with them.
“We'll see because it's obvious from her tweets, Facebook and Instagram that she's crazy about her daughter. What remains to be seen is if that's going to take away from the intensity.”