The WTA Player Awards – questioning the choices


Francesca SchiavoneThe WTA has recently announced the winners of their yearly awards and, as with everything, some people agree with their selection and some don’t. Our great contributor John Bolan thinks the WTA made some questionable choices, especially if you look at the rankings, and the following article shows his extensive research backing up his opinion.

The WTA Player Award winners have been announced. They were excellent picks, but was Francesca Schiavone really the most improved player? She was the most improved if only the top 10 players are considered.  Her ranking increased from 17 at the start of 2010 to 7 at the end.  That is excellent improvement. Looking further down the rankings, Shahar Peer was even more improved moving from 31 to 13 at the end of the year. Rounding out the top 20 is Maria Kirilenko who is clearly the most improved player in the top 20 moving from 63 to 20, an improvement of 43 ranking points!!! Shouldn’t Maria have won the most improved? Using a totally bias free mathematic computation, she was by far the player with the most improved ranking.

Why stop with the top 20. Looking at the next twenty players, finds Alexandra Dulgheru who improved 22 ranks from 51 to 29. Andrea Petkovic moved from 56 to 32, an improvement of 24. Petra Kvitova went from 62 to 34, a gain of 28. Petra won the Newcomer of the Year award even though she has been in the top ranks for three years. Julia Goerges went from 78 to 40, a gain of 38. Tsvetana Pironkova is the big winner in the top 40, moving from 99 to 35 for a gain of 64 ranking points!!! Shouldn’t Tsvetana have won most improved? She is a top 35 player – why shouldn’t she have an award?

Moving on down the rankings, Klara Zakopalova increased 54 ranks to 41 and Anastasija Sevastova increased 38 to number 45. Alla Kudryavtseva went up 30 from 90 to 60. The biggest gainer in the top 60 was Bethanie Mattek Sands who went from 152 to 58 – 94 ranking points higher!! Bethanie should have definitely been awarded most improved!!

Looking at the rest of the top 100, there is Simona Halep who went from 210 to 83, an improvement of 127 points!!! But hold on because Greta Arn went from 231 to 88 – a whopping 143 point improvement. Greta definitely deserves an award for most improved.

Petra KvitovaThree Americans really improved. Alison Riske went from 222 to 116. Christina McHale went from 218 to 109. Coco Vandeweghe went from 354 to 117, a gigantic 237 point improvement!! Shouldn’t Coco been the newcomer of the year as well as most improved??

Perhaps, the WTA could give multiple most improved player awards. One for the most improved top 10 player, another for the top 20 player, the top 40 player, the top 60 player and the top 100 player.

At the other end of the spectrum are the players who really dropped in the rankings.
In almost every case, injuries were the cause:

Top 10 player Dinara Safina 2 to 63.
Top 20 player Virginie Razzano 19 to 114.
Top 30 player Elena Vesnina 24 to 54, Sabine Lisicki 22 to 177, and Anabel Medina Garrigues 28 to 72.
Top 40 player Melinda Czink 38 to 310, Kateryna Bondarenko 32 to 100, Aleksandra Wozniak 35 to 126, and Carla Suarez Navarro 33 to 57.

Top 50 player Sorana Cirstea 46 to 95, Alize Cornet 49 to 78 and Magdalena Rybarikova 45 to 107.

Former stars Jelena Dokic 57 to 137, Sania Mirza 58 to 165, Anna-Lena Groenefeld 67 to 167, Katie O’Brien 88 to 181 and Urszula Radwanska 66 to 193.

I don’t absolutely agree with John, as for example in the case of Francesca Schiavone, because she won the French Open which is obviously the milestone of her long career, while Bethanie Mattek Sands’ career high ranking was last year.

I think that the awards didn’t take into account the rankings only, but other achievements as well. Still, overall, who is the best in this or that category is subjective and it’s natural that there are disagreements. In addition, I don’t share John’s opinion that we should have multiple winners in the same category. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)


  1. I think it make sense. I mean, I’ve followed tennis for a long time but I don’t really know the girls outside the top 100 and she is the most improved, she’s gotten into the top 10 after a while of being outside and she won RG. I mean, Maria’s don well, Coco too, but they definitely aren’t the same as Francesca.

  2. I agree with you Marija and Lilly. Francesca won Grand Slam and got 2000 points (not exactly 2000 – I don’t know her last years achievement at RG but it was far far from final). Although the other girls have more improved their ranking position (and their game ) they have earned less points and didn’t win Grand Slam. To improve from 200 to 80 you need less than 1000 points. Anyway congratulations to all the girls.

  3. It is not a simple matter, but in this case I think Francesca deserves full recognition… I agree with Maja, personally I have the idea that is more difficult to improve the ranking when it is among the top 20 rather than between top 200, because you need more points and it means that you have to win difficult matches, against top 10. Francesca has improved herself at thirty, with humility and determination, she deserves it!

    Among other things, she has been nominated by Sports Illustrated as a possible “Sportsman of the Year” 🙂

  4. @Benjamin
    Thanks 🙂
    I knew that you’ll agree with me. Not only that she is your compatriot and namesake 😀 but Francesca’s award is totally deserved.

  5. All of you in the comments agree with me. 🙂 John isn’t against our opinion either, he’s just taken a different approach.

  6. Fans now have a chance to vote for players in several catagories including most improved. When you vote for the Womens Tennis Blog for best blog, you can also vote for most improved. Lets see who the fans pick!!!

  7. Yes, the Baseline Awards. There is also a vote for newcomer of the year. The list includes Coco Vandeweghe. The most improved list includes Francesca, Peer and Kirilenko amoung others I listed in this article. Of course this is a popularity contest. Maria Sharapova always wins any category for which she is nominated! 😉

    Most improved
    Vera Zvonareva
    Francesca Schiavone
    Shahar Peer
    Maria Kirilenko
    Andrea Petkovic
    Samantha Stosur
    Marjiana Lucic
    Aravane Rezai

    5. Newcomer of the Year
    Petra Kvitova
    Coco Vandeweghe
    Julia Goerges
    Polona Hercog
    Simona Halep
    Johanna Larsson
    Anastasia Sevastova


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