The 2022 WTA Awards winners have finally been announced. The season-ending awards recognize the season’s top performers and shed light on the players and coaches whose accomplishments deserve recognition. Join us as we brief you through the categories, this year’s nominees, and the eventual winners.
WTA Awards Categories
Award winners are selected through 2 methods. The main awards concerned with the top-performing players are voted on by international tennis media. While the Player Service awards winners are chosen by WTA players. Let’s first talk about the main awards.
Player of the Year
Along with the Doubles Team of the Year title, the Player of the Year is a highly coveted title given to the woman with the most outstanding season performance spanning the Grand Slams and other top-level tournaments. Ranking and popularity play a very important role in deciding the victor. The 6 nominees for the Player of the Year are as follows:
- Iga Swiatek– First-time world no. 1 won 2 Grand Slam events and 4 WTA 1000 tournaments. Remained undefeated with 2 notable match-win streaks, the likes of which the Tour hasn’t seen for many years.
- Ons Jabeur– The greatest Arab/ African player who ended the season at a record-high ranking of world no. 2. Won at Madrid and Berlin and finished runner up at the US Open, qualifying for her first Finals.
- Coco Gauff– The spiritual successor of Serena Williams became the first teenager to participate in a major final since 2001. Currently world no. 7 in singles and no. 4 in doubles, the youngster made a large splash with first-time qualification at the Finals in both disciplines.
- Jessica Pegula– World no. 3 in singles and no. 6 in doubles won the biggest title of her career at Guadalajara alongside reaching at least the quarter-finals at 3 Grand Slam events. Qualified for the Finals for the first time in both singles and doubles categories.
- Caroline Garcia– Only woman to win titles on all 3 court surfaces in 2022 ranked year-end no. 4, a big jump from the starting 70s ranking. Became the WTA Finals champion, the biggest title in her career, and the US Open semi-finalist.
- Elena Rybakina– The greatest Khazakistani player won the biggest title of her career at Wimbledon and became the first Khazikistani player to win a major title. The 23-year-old was the youngest to win the Venus Rosewater Dish since 2011.
Rather unsurprisingly, Iga Swiatek was announced as the Player of the Year. The Polish player dominated this season with one of the best season performances by a singles player in recent years. She ended the season as the year-end-no. 1 and secured WTA points more than double those of the world no. 2- Ons Jabeur. She is more than deserving of her new title.
Steffi Graf with 8 titles has received the most Player of the Year titles. Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams follow closely behind with 7 titles each. What All these women have in common is they were the best players during their eras and easily top 10 the greatest players of all time. Thus being named Player of the Year is one of the highest honors a professional player can receive.
Doubles Team of the Year
The doubles counterpart to the player of the year, the Doubles Team of the Year celebrates the tennis pairing that made the biggest impact that particular season. The 2022 nominees were as follows:
- Barbora Krejcikova / Katerina Siniakova– The doubles no. 1 and no. 3 respectively won at 3 Grand Slams and after New York became one of 6 teams to complete a career Golden Slam. They also reached the final at the WTA Finals,
- Veronika Kudermetova / Elise Mertens– The doubles no. 2 and no. 5 triumphed at the WTA Finals and became runner-up at Doha and Miami, snatching the title in Dubai.
- Coco Gauff / Jessica Pegula– The fan-favorite duo won at Doha, Toronto, and San Diego. After a runner-up at the French Open, the pair became the first pair since 2009 to be qualified for both singles and doubles WTA Finals events.
- Gabriela Dabrowski / Giuliana Olmos– Consistent plays and titles at Madrid and Tokyo allowed them to qualify for the WTA Finals.
- Lyudmyla Kichenok / Jelena Ostapenko– The duo appeared in multiple semi-finals including 2 Grand Slam events. With titles at Birmingham and Cincinnati, the 2 qualified for the WTA Finals.
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova’s duo defended their 2021 title and were crowned Doubles Team of the Year for the 3rd time. The doubles world no.1 and 3 completely dominated at the Grand Slams and ended the season with a very impressive 27-4 win record. It is easy to see why they were voted the season best.
Martina Navratilova and Pam Shiver’s iconic duo often called the greatest woman’s pairing of all time, is leagues ahead of all other title holders with 8 Doubles Team of the Year Awards. This year’s champions became the team with the 3rd most titles, behind the pairing of Gigi Fernández and Natasha Zvereva who won 4.
Most Improved Player of the Year
As the name suggests, this title is given to the players who showed the most growth and improvement in their play, which translated well into match wins and reflected on their rankings. For a player very low in the rankings to then break into the top 100, she could become a potential candidate for the Most Improved Player Award. The 5 in running for the title were:
- Veronika Kudermetova– Advanced as a quarter-finalist or higher in over 10 events including at the French Open and 3 finals at Melbourne, Dubai, and Istanbul. Made her top 10 debut.
- Beatriz Haddad Maia– Became only woman to win at Nottingham and Birmingham back-to-back and had 5 quarter-finals or better appearances. The ranking climbed over 60 spots to make the top 20 debuts.
- Ekaterina Alexandrova- Won 2 of 3 total singles titles and advanced to the semi-finals at Madrid through the qualification round. Made the final 4 at the Ostrava Open, debuting in the top 20 as well.
- Liudmila Samsonova– Won 3 back-to-back titles during a 13-match win streak. After a victory at Tokyo, she gained a new career-high ranking of no. 19.
- Ajla Tomljanovic– Top 50 debut along with quarter-final appearances at 2 Grand Slams and other events like the Cincinnati Masters.
Beatriz Haddad Maia, the greatest Brazillian player and winner of the Most Improved Player of the Year Award just had the best season performance of her career. 2022 saw a major jump in her ranking and a record set at the Nottingham and Birmingham tournaments. She continued her stellar performance with a final at the WTA 1000 National Bank Open, allowing her to reach a new career-high rank of world no. 15. It is easy to see why she took home the Most Improved Player title.
Since the awards’ inception in 1977, only 2 women have ever been named the most improved player more than once. Those 2 are Ana Ivanovic and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who both won the title twice.
Newcomer of the Year
The Newcomer of the Year Award is similar to the Most Improved Player of the Year but relegated to new players who’ve either made a top 100 debut or had some other notable accomplishment. The award is a good way to draw attention to new and upcoming talent. The candidates for this year’s Newcomer of the Year title were:
- Zheng Qinwen– upset former French Open champion Simona Halep and had the best Grand Slam performance of the season. Secured a maiden WTA final and Tokyo,
- Linda Fruhvirtova– recorded her first top 20 win and Hologic WTA Tour title at Chennai. Became the youngest title winner in 2022 at 17 years old.
- Julie Niemeier– first major quarter-final at Wimbledon. Upset world no. 3- Annet Kontaveit and then won a title at Makarska.
- Mayar Sherif– Won 4 titles including the first Hologic WTA Tour title at Parma. Upset world no. 7 Maria Sakkari and made top 50 debut.
- Harriet Dart– Reached 4th round at Indian Wells through qualifiers. Upset no. 9 Daria Kasatkina and made top 100 debut.
- Laura Pigossi– Jumped over 100 ranking spots to make a top 100 debut. Reached quarter-finals at Warsaw as a lucky loser and a final at Bogota.
Zheng Qinwen who rose over 100 places this season, became the second-ever Chinese woman to win a WTA Award when she won the Newcomer of the Year Award. A quarter-final at the National Bank Open, semi-final at the Melbourne Summer Set 1, and final at the Toray Pan Pacific Open were some of her season highlights. She even reached the 4th round of a Grand Slam at the Rolland Garros. Considering her potential and current accolades, Azhen Qinwen is more than deserving of the Newcomer of the Year title.
Comeback Player of the Year
Players forced into hiatus due to either injury or other personal reasons ultimately experience a drop in ranking due to inactivity. Those players who return to play, recording some top wins, titles, or other achievements to restore their ranking are prime contenders for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. The 4 nominees were:
- Tatjana Maria– Was on maternity for a year following the birth of her second child. Won the title at Bogota and made a Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon.
- Daria Saville– Recorded multiple top wins after an almost year-long absence from the tour while recovering from leg surgery. Reached the 4th round at Indian Wells through qualifiers, quarter-finals at Miami, and semi-finals at Washington.
- Donna Verkic– After 3 months off the tour at the beginning of 2022 due to a knee injury, her ranking dropped below 100. Recovered to be ranked no. 47 and even reached finals at San Diego through qualifiers.
- Serena Williams– Absent from the tour since 2021 but somewhat returned with a doubles semi-final at Eastbourne. In singles, she upset world no. 2 Annet Kontaveit at the US Open.
Tatjana Maria was named the Comeback Player of the Year. She not only returned to professional play but accomplished major wins in her career. She triumphed at Copa Colsanitas (Bogota) as a qualifier and won her 2nd ever title. Tatjana Maria won the 1st WTA title back in 2018. She has her best Grand Slam performance, a semi-final at Wimbledon this year. She also made higher sounds at other events like in Seoul. Tatjana came back better than ever and for that, she got the title of Comeback Player of the Year.
4 players are currently tied for most Comeback Player of the Year titles including Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters. Both have had this award 2 times each in their career.
WTA Player Service Awards Categories
The following 2 awards, the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award and the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award both fall under this category. What distinguishes these 2 awards is that other WTA players will vote and select the award winners. They are also unique in their naming, being based on influential executives and iconic players.
Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award
This is the award named in memory of Karen Krantzcke, an Australian player. She passed off from a heart attack at age 31 whilst she was jogging. The year after her death, this award was given to Evonne Goolagong for her exceptional sportsmanship. The award is given to players who serve as paragons for professional etiquette and behavior that is fitting of an international sports figure. For the respect and grace observed by Ons Jabeur when interacting with her opponents on and off the court, she was given the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award.
Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award
Peachy Kellmeyer, the Current administrator is a very important part of women’s tennis history. The former player was the first tour director of the Virginia Slims circuit, the precursor to the WTA Tour. In her honor, the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award is given to players and executives who have contributed to the tennis industry, mainly through administration or as an executive. Gabriela Dabrowski, who is part of the WTA Player’s Council received the award for the 3rd total time for her help and support to fellow players at all levels of the tour and in WTA initiatives.
Jerry Diamond Aces Award
Jerry Diamon Aces Award has made a return to the WTA Awards after not being awarded for 2 years. It is a title reserved for tennis players who tirelessly promoted the sport both on and off the court. The award was first given to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1995. Like the previous awards, the Jerry Diamond Aces Award is also named after an important and influential tennis person. Jerry Diamond, the late WTA trailblazer and former CEO served as the inspiration for this award.
The Jerry Diamond Aces Award recognized Maria Sakkari’s promotional efforts this year. Her many off-court promotional activities in 2022 helped bring traction toward tennis and for this, she was awarded the Jerry Diamond Aces Award.
Coach of the Year
The Coach of the Year Award is different compared to the WTA Awards and PLayer Service awards. It is voted on by WTA-registered coaches. Coaches are an often overlooked aspect of professional tennis that goes unnoticed by most fans. So, to highlight their importance to a player’s success and recognition, the Coach of the Year Award is given to those who have served as ambassadors for the sport and been great role models and teachers through and through. The nominees for this year were:
- David Witt- Coach of Jessica Pegula. Helped her go from year starting ranking of 18 to world no. 3.
- Tomasz Wiktorowski– Coach of Iga Swiatek. Helped her become the world no. 1 from her season-starting ranking of no. 9.
- Carlos Martinez– Daria Kasatkina’s coach who helped her debut in the top 10 as no. 8 after starting the season as 26.
- Issam Jellali– Coach of the highest ranked Arab and North African woman- Ons Jabeur helped her reach the word no. 2 ranking from no. 10.
- Bertrand Perret– The reason behind Caroline Garcia’s return to the top 10 after 4 years and a low starting tanking of no. 74. She currently ranks world no. 4.
- Corey Gauff and Diego Moyano– Coco’s father and professional coach helped Coco reach a career-high single and doubles ranking of no. 4 and no. 1 in 2022.
- Rafael Paciaroni– The coach of the Most Improved Player of the Year, Beatriz Haddad Maia, helped her become one of the biggest and anticipated upcoming players, launching her rank from 83 to 15.
- Tom Hill– Maria Sakkari’s coach who helped her achieve a career-high world no. 3 rank and consistent top 5 rankings.
David Witt, Jessica Pegula’s coach, was voted for by his peers and became the WTA Coach of the Year. His guidance allowed Pegula to reach the top 5 players in both singles and doubles disciplines. His presence in the media as an ambassador for tennis, combined with his coaching successes make him a deserving winner of the Coach of the Year title, and his peers agree.
To read more about the official winners and nominations, click the link below for the WTA Tour website.
Though the main awards have been announced, tournament-specific awards and more are still to come until the 16th. Keep an eye out for the WTA Awards.