Earlier this year, the one-handed backhand faced another round of last rites. The catalyst this time was Stefanos Tsitsipas's brief dip outside the ATP Top 10, marking the first time in the Open Era that neither the ATP nor WTA Top 10 included a player with this stroke.

"Has the sun set on the one-handed backhand?" Racquet magazine asked. Twenty-time major champion Roger Federer described the state of affairs as "like a dagger," and a trend he took personally.

None of this was new. The New York Times proclaimed "The Death of the One-Handed Backhand" in 2014, and nine years later, declared it was (still) "on the way to extinction."  In 2015, the Independent stated it was "on the way out," and a year after that, Sports Illustrated labeled it a "dying art." The prevailing view now is that the one-handed backhand is seen more as an aesthetic flourish than an efficient winning strategy.

While it may seem repetitive to declare these burials premature, there's little doubt that the single-hander is in decline. The last player with a one-handed backhand in the WTA Top 10 was Carla Suárez Navarro in September of 2016. The Spaniard is one of only five single-handers to be ranked in the Top 10 this century, alongside Francesca Schiavone, Justine Henin, Amélie Mauresmo and Nathalie Tauziat.

Enter Diane Parry.

The 21-year-old, who cracked the Top 50 for the first time in April, is currently one of three women in the Top 100 (along with Tatjana Maria and Viktorija Golubic) with a single-handed backhand -- but the only player aged under 25 in the Top 300 with one. Thus, for now the French No.2 player carries the responsibility of preserving the stroke's survival for another generation. 

Parry battles past Fernandez to reach Indian Wells third round

Appropriately enough for someone who was raised in the shadow of Roland Garros, with a school window overlooking the grounds, Parry was influenced by some of this century's prominent one-handed players.

"Two good girls!" she said last week in Rome, discussing Henin and Mauresmo. "I always watched them play the last few years and I always tried to learn things when watching them playing."

Federer, too, was an inspiration.

"He made everything look easy," Parry said. "So I never thought it might be hard to do this. Only when you try it do you realize it's hard!"

Curiously, given the natural flair with which Parry swishes her backhand drive, it wasn't what she was first taught. Even in France, where she says there's more of an appreciation of "beautiful games," her first childhood coaches cleaved to the conventional wisdom.

"It's easier to teach a two-handed backhand to have power and play flat," Parry said. "It's always easy to put the second hand when you're a child and you don't have power. You start like this and you continue, and you don't even think to change it."

One person who thought to change it was Valérie Vernet-Le Droff, Parry's coach when she was 12 years old. Noticing that the young Parry kept deviating from her sensible two-hander to experiment with single-handed flourishes, Vernet-Le Droff -- a single-hander herself -- suggested that she try it out properly at a series of small summer tournaments.

"I tried and it was hard," Parry said. "I didn't really have to change the technique or the footwork. But all the girls, they were playing really high on my backhand, and I couldn't get much power. But I really enjoyed it, so I kept it and I worked a lot on it."

The single-hander is often romanticized in terms of instinctive artistry, in contrast to the manufactured two-hander. Henin, famously, claimed it "came naturally" to her the first time she picked up a racquet. In some ways, perhaps this has contributed to its decline. If none other than Martina Navratilova proclaims that it "takes a genius" to hit a one-handed backhand, what motivation is there to attempt it? But Parry emphasizes the amount of hard work it took for her to get it to a professional level.

She learned the quick footwork necessary to run around her forehand and turn that wing into her major weapon. She did rigorous strength training on her right arm and shoulder. Now, she feels the variety and disguise the single-hander offers her have turned it into a weapon in its own right.

Nonetheless, Parry acknowledges that an emotional connection is important. She watched a recent promotional video, shot in Madrid, of various two-handed professionals attempting single-handers with amusement. "It was a lot of fun to see them play one-handed backhands," she said, singling out ATP No. 28 Sebastian Korda's balanced attempt for praise.

But her advice to anyone thinking of following her footsteps and making the switch?

"You have to feel it in the soul first," she said. "Not every player can play a one-handed backhand. It has to be natural. If it's not, it's hard to have a good one."