Conchita Martínez has been named the WTA Coach of the Year after helping her charge, fellow Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza, to three titles this season, and leaving the pair full of optimism for 2022.
I truly believe this has been my best career season, even though I haven’t won slam tournaments. It was a season in which I managed to find continuity in the game, albeit with ups and downs in the result. Now I have managed to find a balance towards which I have worked a lot with my team – this victory shows us that work pays off, and that we are following the right path. Garbiñe Muguruza
Martínez, a former World No 2 and Wimbledon champion, becomes the fourth recipient of the annual Award, which 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.
While first working together in 2017 during Muguruza’s run to the title at The Wimbledon Championships, Martínez and Muguruza re-kindled their partnership in 2020 and, together, brought the Spaniard’s game to new heights in 2021.
This year they reached 5 WTA finals, winning the titles at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Chicago Fall Tennis Classic, and finished the year by lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy at the AKRON WTA Finals Guadalajara along with Muguruza’s first Top 5 year-end season since 2017, at World No 3.
The 28-year-old saw Guadalajara as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a chance to not only win the biggest hard-court title of her career, but to do so at the first WTA Finals hosted in Latin America.
For the Venezuela-born Spaniard, motivation was never an issue.
“Every time I came to Mexico, not necessarily where I am right now as Garbiñe, when I was ‘nobody Garbiñe,’ I also felt the support,” she said after winning the title. “To qualify, the whole year with my team, it’s in Mexico, we have to make it, c’mon. It was my biggest motivation.”
Muguruza, a former World No 1 who previously won the French Open in 2016, did not win a major this year but believes this has been her best run.
“I truly believe this has been my best career season, even though I haven’t won slam tournaments,” the Spanish player said. “It was a season in which I managed to find continuity in the game, albeit with ups and downs in the result.
“Now I have managed to find a balance towards which I have worked a lot with my team – this victory shows us that work pays off, and that we are following the right path.”
She is now fully concentrated on the road ahead, with an eye firmly on the Australian Open as the climax to a Summer of Australian Tennis on hard courts in January and then to the Charleston Open at the start of April with plenty of opportunities in between.
“I can’t wait to come back to Charleston again,” Muguruza revealed on the competition’s Twitter page. “It’s one of the favourite stops on the tour for a reason.
“I obviously feel at home on clay courts and look forward to seeing everyone at the tournament.”
The Charleston Open celebrates it’s 50th anniversary in 2022 and it gets underway from 2 April.
Martínez is the fourth recipient of the WTA Coach of the Year Award, with previous winners including Naomi Osaka’s former coach Sascha Bajin, Ashleigh Barty’s mentor Craig Tyzzer, and Iga Natalia Świątek’s tutor Piotr Sierzputowski.
The WTA Coach of the Year is voted on by members of the WTA Coach Program.
Meanwhile, Ash Barty, the World No 1, is named WTA Player of the Year, voted on by members of the international media to recognise the standout performer of the season.
Barty took the honour for the second time, having also earned the accolade in 2019, after capturing a tour-leading five WTA titles in 2021.
The Australian won her second career Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and successfully defended her title at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, while also winning the titles at the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne, Porsche Tennis Grand Prix at Stuttgart and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
She also won the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals and secured the year-end World No 1 ranking for the third consecutive year.
Emma Raducanu took the WTA Newcomer of the Year after making history in 2021 with her US Open title, where she became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam and did not drop a set throughout all 10 of her matches.
She made her Grand Slam main-draw debut at Wimbledon in July, and reached the last 16 to become the youngest British woman to reach this stage at the All-England Club.
Her other notable results this season include a finals appearance at the Chicago WTA 125 and the quarter-finals at the Transylvania Open at Cluj-Napoca.
The British teenager started the year ranked No 343 and finishes the season at a career best 19.
Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova receive the WTA Doubles Team of the Year Award for the second time, having also been recognised with this honour in 2018.
This season, the Czech duo captured their third Grand Slam trophy as a team at Roland Garros, won additional titles at the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne and the Mutua Madrid Open, before rounding off the year by lifting the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Doubles Trophy at the AKRON WTA Finals Guadalajara.
While both held the No 1 doubles ranking this season, Siniakova finishes the year as the WTA doubles year-end No 1.
Krejcikova succeeded in both singles and doubles in 2021 and also earned the WTA Most Improved Player of the Year Award.
This season, she won the first three singles titles of her career.
The Czech went on a 12-match winning streak to win her first two titles, at the Internationaux de Strasbourg before her run to the Roland Garros crown.
She won a third title on home soil at the Livesport Prague Open and earlier in the season reached the final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Krejcikova made her Top 50 debut this year and climbed as high as World No 3, ending her breakout singles season on her singles debut at the AKRON WTA Finals Guadalajara.
The Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award and Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, which are voted on by the players, go to Kristie Ahn and Carla Suárez Navarro respectively.
American Kristie Ahn earns the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award for the second time in her career, having also been recognised with this accolade in 2020 along with the WTA Players’ Council members.
This acknowledges the work she has done to support her fellow players as well as the wider initiatives on behalf of the WTA.
The award has been voted on by players since 1977 and has recognised athletes including Chris Evert, Kim Clijsters, Pam Shriver and Venus Williams.
Ahn was previously a member of the WTA Players’ Council and now serves as Player Board representative on the WTA Board of Directors.
Spain’s Carla Suárez Navarro was voted by her fellow tour players to receive the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award for the first time this year and is an honour presented to the player who conducts herself in a manner fitting of a professional sports figure and observes the rules of fair play, shows respect for others and is gracious on and off the court.
Introduced in 1978, previous award winners include Petra Kvitova, Elena Dementieva, Ana Ivanovic, Lindsay Davenport, Chris Evert and Evonne Goolagong-Cawley.
Suárez Navarro also receives the WTA Comeback Player of the Year, having planned to end her career in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted the Spaniard’s farewell season when she then diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September of last year.
After winning her battle against cancer, Suárez Navarro decided to end her career on her own terms and returned to the tour in 2021 for her final farewell.
She played Roland Garros, where she took Sloane Stephens to three sets in the opening round, and Wimbledon, where she had another three-set battle against eventual champion Barty in the first round.
She also represented Spain at both the Tokyo Olympics and the Billie Jean King Cup finals.