WTA 2023 review: Swiatek edges chasing pack

Four different Grand Slam champions reflect an edge-of-the-seat season on the women's tour.

Iga Swiatek / Finale Masters 2023©Fred Mullane / Camerawork USA / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Another trip around the world, another thrilling 12 months on the WTA Tour.

Let's take a look back at who stole away the headlines with their on-court heroics...

3GA reasserts her dominance

At the start of November Iga Swiatek posted on social media; "What a season that was… I saw, did and learned so much."

The Pole's 2022 campaign was one of the all-time great seasons, which slightly diminished the praise for Swiatek's stellar 2023.

It might not have had a mind-boggling 37-match winning streak, but the 22-year-old still led the women's field with six titles from eight finals.

Swiatek retained her Roland-Garros title (2020, 2022-23) with more pulsating play in Paris to lift a fourth major.

Aryna Sabalenka stole away the No.1 spot following Swiatek's US Open fourth round exit to Jelena Ostapenko. However, Swiatek recalibrated and stormed through her last 11 matches to take the Beijing Open and then her first WTA Finals triumph.

The Pole put on a masterclass in Mexico, toppling three reigning Grand Slam winners in straight sets, before dismissing Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-0 in a rapid-fire final.

Back with No.1 next to her name, back to her very spellbinding best.

'Big Three' brilliance

Scrolling down the WTA rankings you see a host of players who have featured in finals or taken home silverware in 2023. The quality of contenders has made predictions a thankless task. 

At the very summit, Sabalenka blazed into the Grand Slam Roll of Honour with her maiden major in Melbourne. Sabalenka (Madrid) and Swiatek (Stuttgart) split finals on clay as their blistering battle for No.1 lasted all season.

Elena Rybakina, Australian Open runner-up, had the better of Swiatek all three times in 2023, including victories en route to WTA 1000 glory in Indian Wells and Rome.

Soon this supreme trio was being labelled the new 'Big Three' in tennis.

Coco fulfilling her destiny

Not so fast. Coco Gauff certainly had her say in 2023.

The teenager has long been seen as the 'next Serena' for American tennis, but ignored outside noise to fulfil her own dreams to become a Grand Slam champion.

Disheartened after a first round loss at Wimbleon to Sofia Kenin, Gauff went back to the drawing board, enlisting Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert as coaches.

The confidence and conviction oozed through the world No.3's game as she compiled a 18-1 match record after SW19, taking titles in Washington and Cincinnati to build momentum for a spectacular US Open triumph.

A set and a break down to Sabalenka in the final, Gauff became the Queen of Queens in style.

Remarkable breakouts and reunions

This time last year Mirra Andreeva was ranked outside the Top 400. Somehow, the 16-year-old prodigy is already an established player having rocketed up to world No.57.

Tenacity is the word, Andreeva is a fighter and chalked up plenty of notable wins in a 36-9 campaign.

In January she was the runner-up in the Australian Open girls' singles. By May she had qualified for the Roland-Garros main draw and soared into the third round. Same at Wimbledon, qualifying and achieving a Last 16 ticket. A player made for a big stage.

The likes of Alycia Parks and Marta Kostyuk claimed their first titles, as well as Zheng Qinwen. The Chinese star also advanced to the Elite Trophy final, only to be denied a season-finale triumph by the ever-improving Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The resurgent Leylah Fernandez was an inspirational force as she guided Canada to Billie Jean King Cup success in November.

In terms of comebacks, Caroline Wozniacki made a miraculous return from maternity leave. The Dane, featuring in her first Grand Slam since Australian Open 2020, proved her top-tier quality with a US Open run to the fourth round.

Elina Svitolina produced another feel-good story, desperate to fight for her war-torn nation. The Ukrainian also made the transition back from maternity leave with jaw-dropping results – including a Roland-Garros quarter-final and Wimbledon semi-final surge.

Czech conveyor belt

At Wimbledon 2022 Marketa Vondrousova had her left wrist in a cast and still turned up to watch her friend Miriam Kolodziejova in qualifying, enjoying London life as a tourist.

Zoom through two left wrist surgeries and six months out all the way to Wimbledon 2023 and the Czech's angles-laden play landed an "almost impossible" Grand Slam with a 6-4, 6-4 scoreboard over repeat finalist Ons Jabeur.

The Roland-Garros 2019 finalist has always showed promise, has always been derailed by injuries. That's pretty much the same tale for fellow Czech Karolina Muchova, who assembled an enthralling Roland-Garros to be squeezed out by Swiatek 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 as the runner-up.

The evergreen Petra Kvitova enjoyed trophy lifts in Miami and Berlin, whilst her countrywomen Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova were present in plenty trophy presentations across the 2023 calendar in singles and doubles. 

Marketa Vondrousova / Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT