Sofia Kenin pipped fellow nominees Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Aryna Sabalenka, and Iga Swiatek to the WTA’s Player of the Year Award on Tuesday, voted on by members of the international media.
The Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award, which is voted on by the players, is awarded to all 10 players who served on the WTA Players’ Council during the unprecedented 2020 season: Kristie Ahn, Gabriela Dabrowski, Madison Keys, Johanna Konta, Aleksandra Krunic, Christina McHale, Kristina Mladenovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sloane Stephens and Donna Vekic. WTA Statement
The young American captured her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, where she defeated World No 1 Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals and former No 1 Garbiñe Muguruza in the final.
She lifted her second trophy of 2020 in Lyon and advanced to her second career Grand Slam final at Roland Garros two weeks after reaching the Round of 16 at the US Open, becoming one of two players to reach the second week at all three Grand Slams in 2020 alongside Petra Kvitova.
Kenin finishes the season at a career-high of World No 4, which she first achieved on 9 March.
The WTA awards are broken down into five categories and, this season, voting was completed using Qualtrics, the leader in experience management through its longstanding global partnership which began in 2015 between the WTA and SAP.
The WTA Doubles Team of the Year is Kristina Mladenovic & Timea Babos (FRA/HUN), who captured two titles this season, both at the Grand Slam level, at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and marking their third and fourth major doubles titles as a team.
Mladenovic spent one week as the World No1 doubles player in 2020 on 24 February, while former No 1 Babos reached as high as No 2 this season.
The WTA Most Improved Player of the Year is Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who finished inside the Top 100 and showed significant improvement throughout the 2020 season
She captured her maiden Tour-level title at Roland Garros, defeating 2019 finalist Marketa Vondrousova, 2018 champion Halep and 2020 Australian Open champion Kenin along the way, and didn’t drop a set throughout the fortnight to become the first Polish player, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam singles title.
At 19-years-old, Swiatek became the youngest woman since Monica Seles to win Roland Garros after opening her 2020 season by advancing to the Round of 16 at the Australian .
Having cracked the Top 50 in 2019, broke into the Top 20 following her run in Paris this year and finishes the season at a career best of No 17.
The WTA Newcomer of the Year is Nadia Podoroska from Argentina, who started the 2020 season ranked outside the Top 250, playing a mix of ITF and WTA qualifying events at the start of the year.
She advanced to her career first Tour-level semi-final this year at Roland Garros, where she entered as a qualifier and defeated No 5 Elina Svitolina before falling to the eventual champion Iga Swiatek
Prior to Paris, Podoroska had never won a Grand Slam match or beaten a Top 50 ranked opponent.
She posted a 13-match winning streak (across all levels) between claiming the ITF title in Saint-Malo, France and reaching the final four at Roland Garros as a qualifier.
Entering the Top 100 and the Top 50 for the first time in her career in 2020, Podoroska improved her year-end ranking from 2019 by over 200 spots, having finished last year at No. 55 and ending this season at No 48
The WTA Comeback Player of the Year is Victoria Azarenka (BLR)Player, who saw her ranking drop due to injury or personal reasons, and restored her ranking through an outstanding season of results.
Mid-way through a strong season in 2016, Azarenka announced she was pregnant and eventually gave birth to her son Leo in December of that same year
Following maternity leave, she returned to Tour during the grass court swing in 2017 and despite a few strong results over the last 3 seasons, she was unable to put together consistent strong runs until the summer of 2020 when she claimed her first title in over 4 years at the Western & Southern Open before reaching her 5th career Grand Slam final at the US Open and an additional final at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open, making her 1 of 5 players to reach 3 or more finals in 2020.
Following the US Open, she returned to the WTA Top 20 for the first time since March 2017 and finishes the season ranked No 13 as of November 16, 2020.
This year’s Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award, which is also voted on by the players, is awarded to all 10 players who served on the WTA Players’ Council during the unprecedented 2020 season: Kristie Ahn, Gabriela Dabrowski, Madison Keys, Johanna Konta, Aleksandra Krunic, Christina McHale, Kristina Mladenovic, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sloane Stephens and Donna Vekic.
The group has worked diligently discussing proposals and obtaining feedback to help the Tour return safely and successfully, all with a dedicated commitment to their fellow players.
Introduced in 1977, this award has recognised athletes including Chris Evert, Francesca Schiavone, Pam Shriver and Venus Williams.
The Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova earns her first Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, which is voted on by her peers on Tour and is presented to the player who conducts herself in a manner fitting of a professional sports figure, observes the rules of fair play, shows respect for others and is gracious on and off the court.
Introduced in 1978, Bouzkova’s compatriot Petra Kvitova has received this award for the last 7 successive years, and 8 years overall, while previous winners include Kim Clijsters, Elena Dementieva, Ana Ivanovic, Lindsay Davenport, Chris Evert and Evonne Goolagong-Cawley.
Meanwhile, Piotr Sierzputowski, coach of Iga Swiatek and a Gold Member of the WTA Coach Program, becomes the 3rd recipient of the WTA Coach of the Year Award.
This award recognises the winning coach for success on the court, but also for serving as an ambassador of the sport and bringing coaching to the forefront of the game, and previous winners of this award include Sascha Bajin (2018) and Craig Tyzzer (2019).
Having begun their partnership in 2016, Sierzputowski helped develop Swiatek’s game from juniors to the professional circuit, leading her to the junior Wimbledon title in 2018 to becoming the reigning Roland Garros champion and reaching a career high ranking of World No 17.
Sierzputowski is professionally certified through the Polish National Association and Professional Tennis Registry.
Since several WTA tournaments were unable to operate in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the WTA will not be presenting its annual Tournament Awards this year.