2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin was named the WTA Player of the Year after a breakthrough season that saw her win her first grand slam title.
Kenin defeated world No.1, Ashleigh Barty in straight sets en route to the final where she overcame former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza to win the Australian Open.Embed from Getty Images
It’s been a superb year for the 22-year-old, who was crowned champion at the Lyon Open in March and has amassed the most prize money on the WTA tour this season.
Finishing her season at a career-high 4th in the ATP Rankings, Kenin will become the 8th American to win the WTA Player of the Year award, joining an illustrious group of players that includes Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert.
“Not many people believed in me, people overlooked me, and I finally did it, I proved them all wrong,’’ Kenin said following her Australian Open, who, before 2019, was mostly unknown on the WTA tour.
Despite favouring hard courts, Kenin also proved she can beat the best on any surface, defeating Petra Kvitova in the semi-finals at this year’s French Open.
However, she fell short to Iga Swiatek in the finals who was also honoured by the WTA on Tuesday.
Swiatek was crowned the Most Improved Player of the Year after she became the youngest woman to win the French Open since Monica Seles in 1990.
The unseeded 19-year-old did not lose a single set during the seven matches she played at Roland Garros, beating both Kenin and reigning Wimbledon Champion Simona Halep in straight sets to win the major.
Swiatek was ranked No.175 on the 1 January 2019 but has since rocketed her way up the ladder to finish this year ranked world No.17 in the WTA Rankings.
Doubles team Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos have been recognised as the 2020 Doubles Team of the Year after winning doubles grand slam titles at both the French and Australian Open.
The pair have now strung together 3 years of dominance in the doubles circuit, winning 4 grand slams, and two WTA Finals in 2018 and 2019. And after dropping only 2 sets in their French Open defence, the pair will be hot favourites to win in Melbourne in February.
Meanwhile, after reaching the semi-finals at the French Open this year, Argentinian Nadia Podoroska was awarded Newcomer of the Year.
The 23-year-old hadn’t won a grand slam match prior to the tournament but overcame the odds to defeat world No.5 Elina Svitolina in straight sets.
31-year-old Victoria Azarenka was also awarded Comeback Player of the Year, after returning to her form of old to finish the season in the WTA top 20 for the first time since March 2017.
After leaving the game to spend time with her family, Azarenka has struggled to find her grove over the past few years, but made significant strides this season, winning this year’s Western & Southern Open and finishing as a runner-up in the U.S. Open.
Azarenka will look to continue her run of good form and bag her third major title in 2021.
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