2023 WTA storylines to watch — Top quotes of 2022 — Must-click women’s tennis links
The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Dec. 20, 2022
Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! 2022 saw surprise retirements and evolutions from players like Ashleigh Barty and Serena Williams and a new dominant queen in Iga Swiatek. However, the last Tennis Tuesday of 2022 will be a few WTA storylines that I’m keeping an eye on next year.
(Editor’s Note: The IX will be off for all of next week, Dec. 26-30. The next edition of Tennis Tuesday will come to you on Jan. 3.)
The trailer for the Netflix docuseries, Break Point, was released last week and the WTA players featured are Iga Swiatek, Sloane Stephens, Ons Jabeur, Ajla Tomljanovic, Paula Badosa, Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari. The series will be similar to Drive to Survive, which profiles the F1 season and is a large reason behind the massive growth behind the sport. One of the questions I’m most curious about is the impact this will have on tennis. The series primarily focuses on the four Grand Slams, which already reel in the casual fan.
Episodes 1-5 will be released January 13th, while 6-10 will come out in June. Something I’m also wondering is how the players involved will react to the series premiering. Will it help them on the court or will the extra attention create extra pressure? I’ve said it time and time again — the WTA is in a pretty decent spot with a lot of faces that can take over the sport. Between Iga Swiatek dominating and a global Naomi Osaka looking to carve her way back to No. 1, there are storylines galore. Extra viewership can really only help the WTA, which is celebrating their first anniversary with Hologic.
I’m very excited to watch and will no doubt give my thoughts about each episode.
Serena’s Evolved — Who’s Next?
Like I mentioned, losing Serena Williams is a massive loss for women’s tennis. After COVID shut down half of the 2020 calendar and postponed the Tokyo Olympics to last year, 2021 was a year we said goodbye to so many players. Kim Clijsters forgoing her latest comeback and Ashleigh Barty retiring at the top are others that said farewell to the sport this year. If anyone were to guess the next star to hang up their racquets would be Venus Williams, but the former World No. 1 has accepted a wildcard into the Australian Open so she’s planning on continuing playing at 42.
Other players approaching 40 are Samantha Stosur (38), who made the switch to doubles this year — so expect to see her on court a couple of more years — but Vera Zvonareva (38) hasn’t played since Miami due to injury. I’m not sure if she can have another comeback, but she will have a protected ranking should she decide.
I’ve discussed former collegiate and professional tennis players venturing into pickleball and corporate CEOs and big-time athletes like Tom Brady, Lebron James and tennis’ Kim Clijsters are investing into the sport. Pickleball is gaining steam and fast. ESPN plans to broadcast APP Tour events, while Tennis Channel just held the Major League Pickleball draft. Universal Tennis also shared that they are venturing into the sport to create a rating through their software.
The PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball merging was a giant step for the sport to fully cement itself, in my opinion. One of my gripes about the sport was that there were too many pots in the kitchen and while there is less monopoly, there’s still too much in my opinion. I eventually see that changing, but I’m not too optimistic about the discourse of tennis vs. pickleball. Selfishly, I see so many tennis courts being taken over for pickleball and I wonder how long until tennis loses the fight. The IX alum Rennae Stubbs caused quite the stir on Twitter about tennis players investing and promoting pickleball instead of fully giving back to the sport:
While I agree to her thought, I also lean more into the “if you can’t beat them, join them.” I’ve mentioned in previous Tennis Tuesdays that the WTA and/or ITF should start to incorporate pickleball clinics, exhibitions or even tournaments during their events. Seeing pickleball as a collaborator for tennis instead of a rival is an avenue I’m not seeing much of. That being said, the pickleball train is roaring into 2023 and honestly, they’re probably just getting started.
I hope everyone has a safe and fantastic holiday season. See you in 2023!
On to links!
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This Week in Women’s Tennis
Anhelina Kalinina captured the biggest title of her career at the Open BLS de Limoges following a three-set win over Clara Tauson. In doubles, Marta Kostyuk and Oksana Kalashnikova defeated Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls to win their first title in just their second tournament as a duo.
Barbara Gatica, who is on a provisional doping ban, was banned for three years for accepting money to throw a match in 2016.
Alex Macpherson profiled Caty McNally, who turned her 2022 season around following some serious reflection about her outlook with tennis and shaking off the “doubles specialist” discussions.
Though The IX alum Sloane Stephens is 15 years into her professional career, she’s aiming a return to the WTA’s Top 10 while navigating the young generation making her feel her age.
2023 will be the comeback season for new/expecting moms like Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber, respectively, but there are plenty of players to watch out for next year.
Former WTA Top 30 pro Jamie Hampton currently volunteers for a collegiate team and gave some thoughts when it was coming out that the NCAA tournament currently isn’t projected to be televised:
Julia Elbaba, a former collegiate No. 1 and WTA player, penned a great tribute to Serena Williams as the UVA grad reflects on her own evolution into the newsroom.
In coaching news 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu is reportedly working with Sabastian Sachs, while runner-up Leylah Fernandez is adding Julian Alonso to her team.
US Billie Jean King Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi was the latest guest on the Tennis Channel podcast Inside-In.
Indian Wells, Charleston and Cluj-Napoca were named the WTA Tournament Award winners as voted by the players.
Sam Stosur is looking forward to the first United Cup as she co-captains Team Australia.
One of two tennis players of all-time to have a lifetime contract with the brand, Ana Ivanovic remains on the list of Adidas’ most influential athletes — even 6 years in retirement.
A year ago, Priska Nugroho was about to enter her freshman season at NC State. Now, she’s rolling on the ITF World Tour and is definitely one to watch in 2023:
Auckland returns to the calendar for the first time since 2020 with a loaded field, while the Adelaide 2 tournament the week after will headline Iga Swiatek, who was named the ITF World Champion.
If you need some tennis bracelets to add to your Christmas list, Ali Riske has got you covered.
In Billie Jean King Cup news, a special coin to commemorate the first BJK Cup Finals was unveiled, while Storm Sanders and Beatriz Haddad Maia were named recipients of the tournament’s Heart Award.
In retirement, Vania King is continuing to use her name for good as she builds the charity, Serving Up Hope.
In not-so-surprising news, Poland voted Iga Swiatek for the 2022 WTA Shot of the Year.
Tweet of the Week
How can you not be happy for Carla Suarez Navarro? The Spaniard announced she and partner Olga Garcia are expecting their first child:
Five at The IX: Best WTA Quotes of 2022
“Since I was younger, my dad told me I could change the world with my racquet. He didn’t mean that by just playing tennis. He meant speaking out on issues like this. The first thing my dad said to me after I got off court, I’m proud of you and I love what you wrote on the camera.”
— Coco Gauff after writing a camera message against gun violence during Roland Garros.
“Some people like to do bungee jumping. I like to come back to tennis after having kids, I guess.”
— Tatjana Maria at Wimbledon, where she became the first mother of two to make a major semifinal in the Open Era.
“I’m like good wine. In France, good wine always ages well.”
–32-year-old Alizé Cornet, who enjoyed one of the best seasons of her career, after ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak in the third round at Wimbledon.
Reporter: “Are you here for the experience or are you going to go all the way?”
Venus Williams: “Are you going to write a good article or a halfway decent one?”
Reporter: “I’m going to do what I usually do.”
Venus Williams: “Us too.”
— Venus Williams holds her ground in an exchange with a reporter after her mixed doubles match at Wimbledon
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|By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer|
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