Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam title in 1999 - now almost half of the women left at the Australian Open were born in that decade. Mark Hodgkinson investigates for
WTA Staff

It was in the 1990s - or, to be a little more precise, at the 1999 US Open - that Serena Williams won her first Grand Slam singles title. Now she goes deep into a major and sees that almost half the women left were born in that decade.

For evidence that the next generation is starting to assert themselves, just consider that three of the quarterfinalists at this Australian Open - Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, Romanian Simona Halep, and Madison Keys of the United States - are children of the 1990s. For now, Petra Kvitova is the only Grand Slam champion born in the 1990s, after her glories on the Wimbledon grass in 2011 and then again last season, but that could be about to change by Melbourne's Yarra River. Last summer's Wimbledon final, when Bouchard was the runner-up to Kvitova, was the first Grand Slam title match to be contested by two players who came into this world in the 1990s, and that was undoubtedly a key moment. But even more significant would be if one of the young trio in Melbourne could score the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

That would mean that two of the past three Slams would have been won by this new generation, pushing out those born in the 1980s.

The last eight at Melbourne Park revives memories of glories past - Venus Williams is through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2010 - but also gives a strong indication of the future direction of the women's game. "She was watching me in diapers," Venus Williams has said of her quarterfinal opponent, Keys, and while that's an exaggeration, it's not much of one. Keys was just five years old when Venus won her first major at the 2000 Wimbledon Championships. On the way to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal, Keys defeated Kvitova in the third round - though the Czech hasn't the best record at the Australian Open, that was a result to take notice of. Given the power in Keys' game - and especially the might of her serve - you can expect the American to have an impact on proceedings at the All England Club this summer, as well as on the cement of Flushing Meadows.

It's plain that Bouchard, who plays Maria Sharapova in the last eight, has the game to prosper on Melbourne's hardcourts, for it was there last year that she made her first appearance in a Grand Slam semifinal. But she has a game for all surfaces, and came close to beating Sharapova in the semifinals of last year's French Open, and then featured in a Slam final for the first time in London last year. Halep, who plays Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, is also capable of going deep at every Slam - this is the second successive year that she has made the last eight in Melbourne, and she was a runner-up to Sharapova at last year's French Open, and also made the last four at Wimbledon.

These children of the 1990s are only going to grow in power, reach and confidence.

Mark Hodgkinson is the author of 'Game, Set and Match: Secret Weapons of the World's Top Tennis Players' (Bloomsbury, May 2015).