tennishead awards ‘The Women’: We salute the standout female athletes from 2019 including Coco Gauff
The 2020 season will look very different to any other season even after the world has recovered from the devastation of the coronavirus. Right now we can just look back at fonder times from 2019 when tennis once again proved to be a sport that can deliver the most memorable performances from outstanding athletes, just like Coco Gauff.
Here, tennishead honours the standout female players and performances from the 2019 tennis season.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In a memorable year for the younger generation, Ashleigh Barty enjoyed great success at the highest level. The 23-year-old Australian won her first Grand Slam title in Paris, finished the year on top of the world-rankings and claimed the biggest cheque in tennis history by winning the year-end Shiseido WTA Finals.
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
For one so young, 22-year-old Belinda Bencic seems to have been playing top-level tennis for a long time. Until this year, however, injuries regularly halted her progress. Having started 2019 ranked No 37 in the world, she ended it at No 8 and secured the last place at the year-end Shiseido WTA Finals, where she made the semi-finals.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
After becoming the youngest player to come through the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon, 15-year-old Coco Gauff beat Venus Williams on her debut in the main draw at the All England Club and went on to make the fourth round. In October she won her first tour-level title, beating Jelena Ostapenko in the final in Linz.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Bianca Andreescu had to qualify to play in her first tournament of the year in Auckland, but went on to beat four top 20 players to win the title in Indian Wells and triumphed at the US Open, where she beat Serena Williams in the final. World No 178 at the end of last year, the 19-year-old Canadian finished 2019 as world No 5.
DOUBLES TEAM OF THE YEAR
Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka
Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka, who are both top 20 singles players, won the doubles titles at Indian Wells, Miami and Flushing Meadows in their first year together. They also made the semi-finals at the French Open and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
WHEELCHAIR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Diede de Groot
Diede de Groot would have claimed a clean sweep of the four Grand Slam singles titles but for her defeat by her doubles partner, Aniek van Koot, in the final at Wimbledon. De Groot, a 22-year-old Dutchwoman, has won five of the last six Grand Slam singles titles.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Ever since Ashleigh Barty returned to tennis after an 18-month break in 2016 she has been coached by Craig Tyzzer. Under the guidance of her fellow Australian, Barty has taken everything in her stride during her remarkable sequence of success in 2019.
MATCH OF THE YEAR
Australian Open final
Naomi Osaka won her second successive Grand Slam title when she beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 5-7 6-4 in a pulsating final in Rod Laver Arena. Kvitova, in her first Grand Slam final since 2014, saved three match points in the second set and a fourth in the decider.
SHOT OF THE YEAR
Karolina Pliskova at the US Open
Johanna Konta appeared in control when she hit a fierce forehand cross-court, pushing Karolina Pliskova out wide to her forehand. As Konta closed in on the net, Pliskova stretched to slice an exquisite forehand across court and beyond her opponent’s reach.
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