(Wimbledon) An African-American power serve player who jumped the WTA rankings in a matter of months and is coached by her father, but is neither Venus nor Serena Williams: it’s Alycia Parks following in the footsteps of his elders.
Time permitting, Parks is set to face Romania’s Ana Bogdan (world 57) in the second round of Wimbledon on Thursday, where Serena has won seven of her 23 Grand Slam titles and Venus five of her seven.
“I find it really amazing that we’re being compared because when I started playing tennis I didn’t really know who Venus and Serena were,” Parks said on the sidelines of the Australian Open this year.
And yet… Alycia, a teenager, even played the role of Serena in an advertisement for an energy drink.
When she picked up her first tennis racquet in 2007, a reward for her good grades at school, Serena (almost 26) had already won eight Grand Slam titles and Venus (27) six. The two had already reached the place of world N.1.
At 22, Parks is playing in his third Grand Slam tournament after losing in the first rounds of the 2021 U.S. Open and Roland Garros last May.
But her progression is dazzling: still beyond the 300th place in the world in April 2021, when she first tried her luck on the WTA circuit, and out of the top 200 in 2022, she reached the 43rd rank in last June and played as the 51st in the world his first Wimbledon.
Still straddling the WTA and ITF circuits, the level below, in 2022, she has established herself on the main circuit since the very end of last season.
And she won her first tournament on the WTA circuit in February in Lyon by beating world No.5 Caroline Garcia, before reaching the third round of the Madrid Masters 1000 by dominating ex-N.1 Victoria Azarenka.
At the start of the year, on the sidelines of the Australian Open, the American had confided her ambition: “I definitely see myself in the Top 10 this year”.
One of her main weapons is her serve, which is “at the level of the best Serena”, said former Australian player Rennae Stubbs in an episode of Tennis Podcast. In her match at the 2021 U.S. Open, Parks served at 207 km/h, tying the record for fastest serve by a woman at Flushing Meadows held by…Venus Williams.
“She has what it takes to win a Grand Slam one day,” Stubbs said.
Parks grew under the guidance of her father Michael who, like Richard Williams, has nurtured his daughters’ careers since childhood.
Because Alycia, 1.85m right-handed, also has a sister who plays tennis: Mikayla.
Alycia, born on December 31, 2000 in Atlanta, started playing tennis at age seven and, at age ten, she moved to Florida with her sister to progress…just like the Williams sisters had done. And Alycia took advantage of Rick Macci’s advice, just like the Williams sisters.
Certain that she wanted to pursue a career in tennis, Parks turned down several scholarships to become a professional player.
But at the same time, as Serena Williams did at the end of her career, Alycia Parks launched a clothing line Alycia Mikay in 2017 in collaboration with her sister.
And, of course, Serena is Alycia’s idol.
The youngest served as a training partner for the Williams sisters at the US Open.
“It was good to hit balls with them,” she said in December. Especially with Serena, because I look up to her. She is the GOAT (best player of all time, Editor’s note) of tennis. »
The road to reach his model, though similar so far, will become extremely steep from now on.