The 2017 season has finally come to an end and we’ve got three words to describe it. What. A. Season. This was one of the most entertaining seasons in a long time. It was jampacked with a back to the future domination by two icons of the game, a major push by players we’ve long waited for to announce their readiness for the big stage, one of the most beautiful tennis weddings ever, and some heart-wrenching moments all around. This season had a little bit of everything.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the memorable stories from the WTA. You can find our memorable ATP stories, here.
Don’t look behind now, Margaret!
It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when Serena Williams wasn’t as dominant a force in tennis. She seemed a little bit distracted with her indulgences off the court and some people were expecting a rather premature retirement. It wasn’t hard to anticipate. It wasn’t like it hadn’t happened before with other tennis players – most notably Anna Kournikova. But this was Serena Williams, a grand slam champion with a game for all surfaces. If she faded away from tennis before her time, it would have been borderline tragic. Thankfully, she didn’t and a full decade later, Serena Williams defeated her sister, Venus, to win the Australian Open title. It was her twenty-third win at this highest of levels and put her one title behind Margaret Court. Who would have thought? When we found out she won this title while pregnant, it made it all the more impressive.
Speaking of pregnancy, Serena dropped what was the equivalent of a hydrogen bomb on the tennis world, when she announced her pregnancy and engagement to Reddit founder, Alexis Ohanian – the father of her child. Move over Drake! See ya later Common! Serena Williams found her unique man and he doesn’t have trust issues – we… couldn’t help it. It appears the only thing stopping Serena Williams from at least equaling Margaret Court’s record was her pregnancy and subsequent motherhood. In hindsight, it was the only thing worthy of replacing the quest for such greatness, and it appears to have added a few new dimensions to Serena Williams’ character as a woman and her perspective of life. That has been interesting and quite fun to see.
Between Career and Child
Not all motherhood experiences have been as pleasant as they should be though. While Victoria Azarenka has clearly not minced words about how much of a blessing her child is to her, it is very clear the father has been quite the opposite. Forced to skip Wimbledon this year as she battled for the custody of her child, especially when she is playing tournaments. She was so moved by her trials that the normally private Azarenka, opened up and penned a powerful open later that shared her thoughts on her trials and experiences. This was one sad memory but the strength Azarenka has shown through this period, has been nothing but exemplary.
The Ageless Wonder
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Venus Williams has been the most inspirational player this year. Her magical run to the Australian Open finals was followed by another fantastic run to the Wimbledon Championship match, despite dealing with the emotional trauma of a car accident that resulted in a death. If that wasn’t enough, Venus would get to the U.S Open semifinals and finish the year by reaching the finals of the Singapore tournament, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki. She didn’t win any of those big titles but at age thirty-seven, to consistently pull off such runs is a titanic feat. She’s proven to so many people that nothing is impossible. We can only wish her the very best – a grand slam win – next year. Believe us. It is possible.
Has a return from a ban ever been so sensationally covered? You would think Jack the Ripper had been cloned, with the backlash from this event. Maria Sharapova had served her drug suspension and was ready to get back on the WTA tour. Everyone seemed to be either very unhappy, downright devastated or just plain indifferent. Immediately, a new debate surfaced. Considering Maria Sharapova’s ranking at the time, should she be given a wildcard to play at tournaments (particularly the slams) or did she need to fight her way through qualifying?
Things really hit new heights when the U.S open decided to give Maria Sharapova a wild card into the tournament. She was drawn to play Simona Halep, whom she dispatched in the first round. When Caroline Wozniacki lost to Makarova in the second round, she lamented playing on court 17 with her seeding while Sharapova played at Ashe. It sparked the famous retort from Sharapova “I’m in the fourth round. I don’t know where is.”
Speaking of memorable runs, Sloane Stephens resurrected her ailing career by putting on a memorable fortnight of superior, controlled tennis to win the U.S open. She was also responsible for derailing Venus Williams in a hard-fought semifinal tussle. Her dismantling of Madison Keys in the final, the great show of sportsmanship at the net and the wide-eyed open-mouthed expression when she saw the check, are just a few things that made Sloane Stephens so memorable, this year.
Girls Stepping Up
From Sloane Stephens to Jelena Ostapenko, and finally to Garbine Muguruza, the grand slam champions after Serena Williams, were all in their early to mid-twenties. In Serena’s absence, they have all matured a great deal and are higher up in the rankings than they usually would be. It will be very exciting to see how they fight to maintain the niches they’ve carved for themselves next season.
Wozniacki’s new Weapon
Like David Goffin, Caroline Wozniacki has built her game around speedy movement and a very stubborn defense. It has always taken her deep into tournaments but against confident, offensive-minded players, it just hasn’t been enough. Enter the WTA finals in Singapore. Wozniacki found the light switch and with a single flick, went offensive. The difference was startling for the tennis world and I believe, for the players themselves. No one knew what to do with Wozniacki’s aggressiveness because… no one had faced it before. It was very similar to David Goffin’s revelation in London, however, Wozniacki rode that wave all the way to the title. Maybe she should be in the grand slam conversation for next year. Only time will tell.