Spotlight: Amanda Anisimova

  • Matt Trollope

Thanks to her rapid transition from top junior to successful pro, Amanda Anisimova evokes memories of a WTA golden era during which teen phenoms drove the sport. 

The 19-year-old has already been an established top-30 player for more than a year, with her textbook groundstrokes, power and court sense having an immediate impact.

On court

Anisimova is most notable for her run at the 2019 French Open, where, at age 17, she stunned defending champion Simona Halep to reach the semifinals – and very nearly beat eventual champ Ash Barty once there.

But signs of her talent emerged even earlier; in 2018, as a 16-year-old wildcard at Indian Wells, she upset world No.9 Petra Kvitova to reach the fourth round.

Later that year she made her first WTA final as a qualifier in Hiroshima – a result that pushed her inside the top 100.

In 2019 came more success, including a win over 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka to advance to the Australian Open’s last 16, plus her first WTA title in Bogota three months later.

Amanda Anisimova (R) and Nick Kyrgios formed a popular mixed doubles team at AO 2020. (Getty Images)

Then came the French Open, where her victory over third-ranked Halep was one of five she has already notched over top-15 opponents.

Peaking at world No.21 in October 2019, she posted a third-round finish at the 2020 US Open after tennis resumed in August.

These results are all the more impressive given that she was competing on the junior circuit as recently as 2017, winning that year’s US Open girls’ title.

Notable stat

Anisimova became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since Nicole Vaidisova 12 years earlier at Australian Open 2007, and is the first Grand Slam semifinalist born in the 2000s.

Amanda Anisimova reacts to beating defending champion Simona Halep in the 2019 French Open quarterfinals. (Getty Images)

X-factor

Tennis-wise, Anisimova’s two-handed backhand is among the most purely-struck shots in the sport.

Yet the American will also accrue fans due to a willingness to use her voice on social causes.  

Already in her fledgling career she has called for gun reform in her home country and has supported the movement against racial injustice sweeping the US in 2020.

She also described trailblazing tennis legend Billie Jean King as her role model.

Off court

Anisimova is a fun follow on social media – especially on TikTok – for anything from life advice to dance routines with Victoria Azarenka.

@shakedatt

Dubs warmup @victoriaazarenka

♬ original sound - Perri Kiely

Born in New Jersey to Russian parents, Anisimova is now based in Florida.

Last year she suffered heartbreak when her father suddenly passed away just before the US Open.

After withdrawing from that tournament and playing sparingly for the rest of 2019, she revealed this year his memory was a source of strength as she forges on in her professional career.


She said… 

“I didn't look nervous because I wasn't.” 
– Anisimova, on how she felt coming out onto Court Philippe Chatrier to face Halep at the 2019 French Open.

“As soon as I got back to tennis, it is what made me happy. And I know that’s what my dad would want me to be doing. That’s what would make him proud.”
- Anisimova, during a New York Post interview in January 2020.

Experts are saying…

"She has such incredible timing. She reminds me a bit of (Lindsay) Davenport for that … and every time she hits the ball, she hurts (her opponent). I think she's able to hit more angles than Davenport, but otherwise she's always dangerous whenever she hits the ball.”
- Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams