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Billie Jean King confident in state of women’s tennis — even without Serena Williams

Serena Williams of the United States receives the

Serena Williams of the United States receives the runners up trophy from Billie Jean King and Jean Gachassin the President of the French Tennis Federation during the Ladies Singles final match against Garbine Muguruza of Spain on day fourteen of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2016 in Paris, France. Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

The women’s tennis world is in limbo, missing Serena Williams, who is pregnant, diminished by injuries to other key players and full of lesser-known contenders for major championships, including the current French Open.

But Billie Jean King, one of the best players in history, is unconcerned, confident it will work out in the end — even if Williams does not return full time after giving birth later this year.

“First of all, is she even going to want to after she has the baby?” King said Thursday before a news conference to promote the upcoming season of World Team Tennis’ New York Empire. “Sometimes that changes people, changes the family dynamics.

“Maybe she’s going to love being a mother so much she just doesn’t have any desire to do much more, or it might be rekindled.”

Either way, King believes, all will be well.

“We have a lot of young players doing well now; somebody will break through,” she said. “The good thing is that you don’t know who’s winning anymore. That’s the exciting part . . . The media always complains. If you don’t have a rivalry they go, ‘Why don’t you have one?’ But then when you have a rivalry they go, ‘Well, isn’t anybody else going to break through?’ ”

For now, though, some of the most talented women on the tour seem unready for the spotlight.

“You know what, they’re all nervous because they all know they have a chance to win, because Serena is not in and Venus [Williams] is out now,” she said of the French Open. “Now you’ll see, it’s tight, because these kids aren’t used to that. This group of players aren’t used to being in the finals a lot. But they all know they have a chance.”

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