October 29, 2018—The elite season-ending event on the women’s tennis tour, the WTA Finals, was a roller coaster ride of pure joy and bitter disappointment for the women of the WTA. In case you missed it, here is a recap of some the highlights from the past week…
Changes ahead, shocking news and hard-fought victories at WTA Finals
Change could be good: The WTA Finals, the elite season-ending event on the women’s tennis tour, will leave Singapore after this year and begin a 10-year run in Shenzhen, China from 2019 through 2028. Although bitter-sweet news to some, the increase in the total prize money at the Finals to $14 million in 2019 will certainly sweeten the deal. This is double the current purse of $7 million and much more than the $8 million awarded at the ATP World Tour Finals, the equivalent men’s event in London.
Shocking health news brings challenges to Caro: The 28-year-old world No. 2, Caroline Wozniacki had the best season of her career winning the Australian Open, and then getting engaged to her fiancée David Lee. But following her loss to Elina Svitolina at the WTA Finals, she revealed that prior to the US Open she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, “I’m very proud of how I have been so positive through it all and just kind of tried to not let that hinder me,” she said. She feels strong and hopeful that with treatment she can manage the disease and continue with her career.
Being Number 1: The WTA announced it will dedicate its World No.1 trophy to WTA Legend Chris Evert officially naming the award Chris Evert WTA World No.1 Trophy. “I’m honored and privileged to have my name on this trophy,” said Evert. Reigning WTA World No.1 Simona Halep become the first recipient of the Chris Evert WTA World No.1 Trophy following her best season yet. “I’m very happy to be the first player to hold the Chris Evert WTA World No.1 Trophy,” said Halep. “Chris is one of the greatest players of all time and I think it’s great that she is being honored this way.”
Playing through pain: 2018 US Open Champion, Naomi Osaka, ended her WTA Finals debut in tears on Friday (Oct 26) as she was forced to retire against Kiki Bertens, handing her the surprise spot in the semi-finals. “I hurt my left hamstring in the first match,” Osaka told reporters. In her soft-spoken demeanor she expressed genuine disappointed in letting down her fans saying, “I just really wanted to try because this is the last tournament, and I felt it was really unfair to everyone who came to watch.”
And the winners are… 24-year-old, Elina Svitolina, the first Ukrainian to be crowned champion of the WTA Finals, won the biggest title of her career after a three-set comeback win over Sloane Stephens. Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, was a tough opponent and fought to the bitter end but Svitolina prevailed. “It is amazing. I am very pleased with my performance this week,” said Svitolina.
WTA Finals runner-up, Sloane Stephens, leaves Singapore with a positive attitude. “I won more matches here than I have in Asia in probably like my whole career,” Stephens acknowledged. “I think that it was tough for me to come here and be seeded No. 5…. to play with some of the best players in the world. But I think no matter where I am, I can play some good tennis,” said Sloane in her press conference at the WTA Finals.
Australian Open champions Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated Czechs Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova to took home the WTA Finals doubles title. “…An unreal feeling to win that very prestigious title for the first time,” Mladenovic said to the press. “I couldn’t ask for better moment and partner to share it with than my best friend.”
Babos agreed, saying that “to share it with [Mladenovic] and to live through these moments together, it’s very, very special. I’m really, really glad to be part of this story.”
For more of the latest news and video on the women of the WTA go to wtatennis.com.