2024 could be a monumental year of transitioning in tennis. Young players such as Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are improving on the men's side while Iga Swiatek has mostly dominated the WTA No. 1 ranking the last two years, and is still only 22 years old. But while young players are improving, some aging players, such as Rafael Nadal, might be on their way out.
In the below, I am also not including other excellent players such as Angelique Kerber and Richard Gasquet. Both won't likely be playing in 2025. This means some other players are going to need to take their place.
Thankfully, besides Alcaraz, Sinner, and Swiatek, tennis has a lot of potentially all-time greats still finding their way. This includes Holger Rune and Mirra Andreeva. But here are four players we might be watching the end of their careers in 2024.
Four tennis icons likely playing final year, including Rafael Nadal
The 22-time Grand Slam winner is still struggling to come back from a hip injury he suffered in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open. He played in the Brisbane International to begin 2024 but aggravated his hip and had to withdraw from the 2024 Aussie Open. Thinking Nadal will come back nearly fully healthy for any long stretch seems foolish. Maybe he will win the French Open and then call it a day.
Williams won her first Grand Slam an astonishing 24 years ago (Wimbledon in 2000) and went on to win nine more, including Wimbledon four more times. But Williams has not won any kind of tournament since 2016. She is currently ranked 473. One would assume she doesn't need to keep playing for money, so hopefully she won't stop playing due to a bad injury.
Wawrinka was once a fixture of the ATP top 10, but the 38-year-old three-time Grand Slam winner must simply love playing because he hasn't had a year-end ranking in the top 10 since 2017 and hasn't won a title since 2017 either. He still has a bombastic forehand, but doesn't move overly well anymore.
If anyone has seen the Andy Murray bio-doc, Resurfacing, one might wonder not only why Murray is still playing but why. One of his hips is basically just made of metal. But he clearly has a love for the sport and he obviously is going to find quitting extremely difficult. He is still a fun watch but not a real threat to win a major anymore.