WTA Awards 2023 – deserving winners honoured this year

Now that the dust has started to settle following the WTA Awards 2023, I wanted to take you through an in-depth run-through of this year’s winners. After all, it’s one thing to simply produce a list of winners, but it’s another thing entirely to cover the ins and outs of why such awards were issued. Of course, it’s the latter that I will be following today.

So, if you’ve seen the WTA Awards 2023, at least in terms of the awards that were issued, you are about to learn why each of the respective individuals truly received the awards in question. And if you didn’t see the WTA Awards 2023 – even better! You’re going to learn who was honoured with these awards in the first place.

WTA Awards 2023 Swiatek
Photo by Icon sport

As for some specifics before we get the ball rolling here, you should know that there were almost 10 individual WTA Awards given out this year. That’s quite a number, and it allowed for a range of players to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight for different reasons. 

Speaking of which, I think it’s about time I move things forward, so let’s now review the WTA Awards 2023 before taking a closer look at the winners. 

WTA Awards 2023 – breakdown of awards issued

As referenced above, almost 10 awards were distributed to various individuals involved in WTA tennis this year. Or to be more specific, 8 awards were up for grabs. Of these 8 WTA Awards 2023, there were a total of 6 different winners – showing that one of the WTA professionals took home 2 awards this year.

Once you’ve seen the shortlist of awards that were available, I’m sure you may form your own ideas on who was deserving of ‘the double’. Yet while you have some fun with those ideas, let me present the full list of awards before we proceed:

  • Player of the Year
  • Most Improved Player of the Year
  • Newcomer of the Year
  • Comeback Player of the Year
  • Doubles Team of the Year
  • Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award
  • Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award
  • Coach of the Year

As you can see, that’s quite a buffet of awards – each with its own prerequisites that a player must meet before they are even presented as a nominee. So, now that you’re armed with the overview of WTA Awards 2023, let’s start our run-through. 

Player of the Year – Iga Swiatek

Of all the players who had a reason to be nominated for this award, I must ask, was it ever going to be given to somebody other than Iga Swiatek? The Polish world number one is nothing short of phenomenal, as she has proven time and time again in the biggest WTA tournaments. However, some might argue that her 2023 season was eclipsed by other individuals in terms of the overall ‘success’ for the year – something that she will no doubt be looking to put to bed at the WTA 2024 Australian Open.

But when you consider that she lost the world number 1 ranking late in the season, only to chase it at the 2023 WTA Finals and snatch it from Aryna Sabalenka, this has to go down as one of her great triumphs. In addition to that, Iga Swiatek did win the French Open in 2023, which was the biggest of her 6 titles this season.

And in being named the Player of the Year for the second straight season, she has joined the legendary Serena Williams in producing such a feat. So for me, with this being the most prestigious of all the WTA Awards 2023, Iga Swiatek is a deserving winner. 

Most Improved Player of the Year – Zheng Qinwen

Compared with the Player of the Year award that I’ve covered above, the Most Improved Player of the Year was much more open. By this, I mean that there wasn’t necessarily a clear-cut winner. But if you look at the performances that Zheng Qinwen produced from the summer months onwards, personally, I believe that she is more than deserving of the award.

Interestingly, this isn’t the only time that Zheng Qinwen has received one of the WTA Awards. In 2022, she was named the WTA Newcomer of the Year, although not many tennis fans would have been too familiar with her at that point. However, by winning two WTA titles in 2023, making the US Open quarter-finals, and finishing the season with a career-high ranking of 15, she stood out from the other candidates in the end.

Yet since she has now earned two WTA Awards in back to back seasons, I’m interested to see whether she can make it a hat-trick by putting together a top-drawer 2024 season. 

Newcomer of the Year – Mirra Andreeva

I hope you are sitting down for this one. This teenager started the 2023 season ranked 405 in the world. At this ranking, you’d expect a player to be struggling at the lower-level WTA tournaments. But how wrong could we all have been when making such assumptions – she finished the season ranked 46!

Amazingly, Mirra Andreeva competed in the Australian Open Juniors event in January 2023, reaching the finals in that tournament. Following such a great streak, she made the immediate step up to the second-highest tier of WTA tennis – the 1000 level. This occurred at the Madrid Open, and boy did she impress.

Mirra Andreeva took out two top 20 players to reach the last 16 in that event, and she then stepped up to make her first main draw of a Grand Slam in Paris. She reached the third round there and used this confidence to reach the second week of Wimbledon – all of this at just 16 years of age!

Comeback Player of the Year – Elina Svitolina

Full disclosure – Elina Svitolina is one of my favourites, so there could be a bit of bias here! But biased opinions aside, if we focus on the facts and figures of Svitolina’s 2023 season, the findings really are outstanding. Bear in mind that Elina Svitolina was absent from the WTA Tour for more than a year to welcome her first child with her husband, Gael Monfils.

She returned to the WTA Tour in April 2023, and just one month later, she snapped up a WTA 500 title in Strasbourg. This title was huge for both her confidence and belief going into the summer months, and Svitolina went on to reach the quarters of Roland Garros, as well as the semis of Wimbledon. 

WTA Awards 2023
Photo by Icon sport

Of course, nobody would have anticipated this kind of comeback following a period of absence to start a family. But given the way that she returned, I firmly believe that the WTA Awards 2023 produced the right outcome here.

Doubles Team of the Year – Storm Hunter & Elise Mertens

I have to admit, the WTA Awards 2023 surprised me here. Now, I don’t mean this from the perspective of disagreeing with the outcome – far from it. I say this because there were so many great doubles teams on the WTA Tour this year that the competition here was ridiculously close. 

But ultimately, the powers that be have spoken, and the award for Doubles Team of the Year went to the duo of Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens. In just their first season together, these two made the quarters of the Australian Open, they won two 1000 titles in Rome and Guadalajara, and they made the finals of Wimbledon.

To top things off, Storm Hunter finished the year as the world number one.

Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award – Ons Jabeur

Welcome to the first of two WTA Awards 2023 for this remarkable woman from Tunisia. Few players on the WTA Tour can capture the hearts of tennis fans quite like Ons Jabeur. With her smile, bubbly personality, and on-court fairness, Jabeur really is a deserving winner of the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award.

Then again, she won the award last year too, so this maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise. And to quickly add to that, besides her appealing nature, Jabeur is one of the most gracious and respectful players of them all. 

Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award – Ons Jabeur

Not only is Ons Jabeur viewed as the fairest and most sporting WTA player by her peers, but her efforts to ‘better the world’, so to speak, have gained recognition here too. That’s precisely what the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award is designed to acknowledge – individuals who bring the best out of the game, while also being active to better the world away from the tennis court too.

Ons Jabeur is a prime example of this, hence her nickname of the ‘Minister of Happiness’. This is a nickname that she has adopted based on comments from numerous WTA professionals, and given that she competes with such joy and respect for the game, she’s a stand-out winner for one of the top WTA Awards 2023.

Coach of the Year – Tomasz Wiktorowski

As if you needed to make any guess as to which player is coached by Tomasz Wiktorowski. Of course, he is the coach of the world number one, Iga Swiatek. In fact, he has been the coach of the sensational Polish player for two years already. 

Evidently, it’s been a very successful partnership, and he has been honoured here not only for his contributions on the court but also off the court. Wiktorowski has been pivotal in creating the fierce mentality that Swiatek now possesses, and the 2023 WTA Finals was perhaps the best display of just how incredible this has become.

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