Swiatek wins WTA Player of Year; Pegula’s coach Witt honored
Dec 11, 2022, 6:15 PM | Updated: Dec 12, 2022, 8:16 am
(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
Iga Swiatek was honored as WTA Player of the Year for the first time on Monday after rising to No. 1 in the rankings in April and remaining there for the rest of the season thanks in part to two Grand Slam titles.
Swiatek, a 21-year-old from Poland who was the WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2020, led the tour with 67 match wins and eight titles. That included a run of six trophies in a row during a 37-match winning streak that lasted from February to July and was the longest undefeated stretch in women’s tennis in a quarter of a century.
“I felt like everything clicked this season,” Swiatek said in a video interview with The Associated Press during her unbeaten streak. “And I wasn’t expecting to be that consistent.”
She ascended to the top of the rankings after Ash Barty suddenly retired at age 25 and relinquished that spot. Swiatek later won her second major championship at the French Open in June, then claimed the U.S. Open title in September, making her the first woman with two Slam trophies in one season since Angelique Kerber in 2016.
The WTA Coach of the Year award went to David Witt. He works with Jessica Pegula, a 28-year-old American who rose to a career-best No. 3 in the rankings during 2022 and was a quarterfinalist at three Grand Slam tournaments — losing to Barty or Swiatek each time.
Pegula also won the Guadalajara Open, made it to her first WTA 1000 final at the Madrid Open and qualified for the WTA Finals in singles and doubles (with Coco Gauff).
Witt’s honor was voted on by other registered coaches. Player awards determined by a vote of international media members included:
— Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic were the WTA Doubles Team of the Year for the second consecutive season and third time overall after winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open;
— Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil was the WTA Most Improved Player of the Year after rising from No. 80 to No. 15 in the rankings and winning her first two tour-level titles;
— Zheng Qinwen of China, who turned 20 in October, was the WTA Newcomer of the Year after rising more than 100 places in the rankings and reaching the fourth round in her French Open debut before bowing out against Swiatek;
— Tatjana Maria of Germany was the WTA Comeback Player of the Year after getting to her first career Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon at age 34, making her the oldest woman to make her debut at a major tournament. She twice took time away from the tour to have children.
Ons Jabeur received the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, Gabriela Dabrowski collected the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award for a third time and Maria Sakkari won the Jerry Diamond ACES Award for helping promote the sport via off-court activities.
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