Barty and Bencic, Andreescu and Kenin headline WTA Players Awards 2019
Kiki Bertens awarded ACES Award for promotional and charitable work
Youthful talent and effort have been rewarded in spades in the WTA’s 2019 Player Awards, in which all four playing categories have been taken by women age 23 or younger.
No1 Ashleigh Barty is queen of tennis in 2019
The most prestigious award, Player of the Year, has been won by world No1 Ashleigh Barty, who has been showered in accolades over the last month or so in recognition of her rise to the top of the ranks, winning her first Major at Roland Garros, and capping the season with the WTA Finals crown in Shenzhen.
She has won the Newcombe Medal for the third straight year as Australia’s most outstanding performer of 2019. And just this week, she won in three categories at the Australian Institute of Sport Performance Awards: Female Athlete of the Year, the ABC Sport Personality of the Year, and Sporting Moment of the Year.
The modest Australian, who has both charmed and thrilled tennis fans since she returned to tennis with fresh ambition after almost two years playing professional cricket, became Australia’s first French Open champion since Margaret Court in 1973 and the country’s first female No1 since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976. And her victory in Shenzhen earned her the biggest ever prize in tennis, $6.4 million.
That she has also been as high as No5 in doubles—she has 10 titles, including the US Open title with Coco Vandeweghe—only adds to her reputation, as well as feeding her popular, all-court style of tennis.
· Won four titles from six finals, including the WTA Finals, the French Open, and her first Premier Mandatory at the Miami Open.
· Victory in Paris took her to No1, and she returned to the top in September: She has now accumulated 21 weeks at the top.
· She was the only woman this year to reach the second week of all four Majors, and won more matches in the season, 57, than anyone else.
Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova
Teenage Bianca Andreescu becomes Newcomer of the Year in stunning breakthrough season
It began with her first tournament of 2019, ranked just 152, as Andreescu worked through three qualifying rounds to reach the final in Auckland. And although she played only 13 tournaments in the year, hampered as she was by a shoulder injury, she more than made up for it in quality wins.
The young Canadian won three titles, including her first Major at the US Open in her main-draw debut, plus two more prestige North American titles, in Indian Wells and Toronto. The 19-year-old topped out at No4—she is now No5—having gone 48-7 for the year, with an 8-3 record over top-10 opposition.
Coco Gauff, Karolina Muchova, Elena Rybakina, Iga Swiatek, Dayana Yastremska
Belinda Bencic bounces back from wrist surgery to be Comeback Player of the Year
The Swiss player reached No7 as a teenager back in 2016, but her prodigious early promise was hampered by wrist injury, which forced surgery in 2017 and a five-month absence. But from a slip outside the top 300, she finally regained her top-10 place this season with her best-yet season.
She won her first titles since 2015 in Dubai and Moscow, as well as reaching her first Major semi-final at the US Open. She thus qualified for the WTA Finals for the first time, where she reached the semis and sealed 50 match-wins for the year.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Sofia Kenin is Most Improved Player after winning her first three titles
The 21-year-old American began 2019 ranked 52 and ends it at 14 after winning the first three titles of her career in Hobart, Mallorca, and Guangzhou.
Along the way, Kenin won more hard-court matches than any fellow player, 38, and beat No1s in back-to-back weeks, first over Barty at the Rogers Cup, then over Osaka in Cincinnati. She also beat Serena Williams at the French Open.
Amanda Anisimova, Bencic, Alison Riske, Zheng Saisai, Donna Vekic
Timea Babos/ Kristina Mladenovic are Doubles Team of the Year
The Hungary/French duo won back-to-back titles in Istanbul and Roland Garros, and at the WTA Finals, they went undefeated to become the first team to successfully defend the Martina Navratilova Doubles title in 11 years.
The outstanding partnership also reached the final at the Australian Open, the semis at Wimbledon and the quarters at the US Open.
Following their triumph in Paris, Mladenovic rose to the doubles No1 for the first time in her career.
Elise Mertens/Aryna Sabalenka, Zhang Shuai/Samantha Stosur, Barbora Strycova/Hsieh Su-Wei
Kiki Bertens earns Jerry Diamond ACES Award
The much-liked Dutch woman picked up this award, which is presented to the player who goes above and beyond in promoting tennis to fans, media, and local communities, after becoming involved in over 40 kids’ clinics, charitable activities, and fan-friendly events around the world to help bring the game closer to the community.
Bertens, who reached a career high of No4 this season, scored 55/26 in matches, won both the Premier Mandatory in Madrid and then St Petersburg, also reached the final of three more tournaments, playing both the Zhuhai Elite Trophy and the WTA Finals back-to-back.