WTA Stars: where are they now?

 - Alix Ramsay

The Australian Open is now a distant memory. So where is everybody?

Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova laughing during the trophy presentation at the 2019 Australian Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

'The tennis tour waits for no one and the Australian Open is now no more than a distant memory. So where is everybody?

And what have the stars of the WTA Tour been doing?'

Life moves on very quickly, particularly in sport. And in tennis, it moves like greased lightning.

No sooner had the Australian Open trophies been locked away for another year (you can win them, you just can’t keep them) than the tennis tour moved on and the fit and the famous went their separate ways.

While the rest of us are still boring our friends silly with pictures of our trip Down Under (“This is me with Serena Williams. She’s in her suite inside the hotel and that’s me standing on the pavement outside…”) and wondering why we ever thought a tea caddy in the shape of a koala bear that sings Waltzing Matilda every time you open it is a fitting memento of one of the most beautiful countries on the planet (note to self: never buy souvenirs at the airport), the players are all back at work in their regular jobs on the regular tour.

Kvitova? First flight to Russia!

Pity poor Petra Kvitova. She had no time to take in what she had achieved in Melbourne, although it is hard to think of another player who looked quite so pleased with her runner’s up trophy – it had been a heck of a two weeks for her. But with the cheers still ringing in her ears, she was running to Tullamarine Airport to catch the first flight to Russia to defend her St. Petersburg title.

Struggling to shake off the jet lag, she lost to Donna Vekic in the quarter-finals. The picture and caption she posted in Instagram says it all: she was running on fumes. And, boy, did she look happy when she finally got home to Monaco and could have a few days of rest before getting ready for the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the middle of February.

Simona Halep sending love to the sky during the 2019 Australian Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
Halep? Never a dull moment!

Simona Halep
, who after losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open suddenly found herself down to No.3 in the world rankings, wasted no time in getting back to business and getting herself a new coach.

Thierry Van Cleemput had gone to Melbourne as the coach of David Goffin but then Goffin lost to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. That was on the middle Saturday. On the middle Sunday, Goffin announced that he and Van Cleemput were splitting up and then, quick as a flash, Van Cleemput was watching Simona with a new interest as she took on Serena Williams on the Monday.

Alas, Simona lost that day and, afterwards, she refused to confirm or deny that she and Van Cleemput were planning to work together (and put up solid and dogged resistance to the Belgian journalist who kept asking her about it). But then, at the start of February, she announced that, yes, he was joining her team and their first tournament together would be the Qatar total Open in Doha.

With that out of the way, she headed to Ostrava to take on the defending champions, the Czech Republic, in the first round of the Fed Cup World Group. There is never a dull moment with Simona.

Osaka? "Pump it up!"

Naomi Osaka
 is still settling into her role as the world No.1. With the position comes all sorts of new responsibilities and opportunities. And a whole heap of things that no one ever tells you about. Yes, there were TV appearances (not a favourite pastime for someone who doesn’t like speaking in public); yes, the Tokyo Tower was lit in red and white to celebrate her victory and, yes, her car sponsor sold out of its limited edition “Naomi Osaka” GT-R.

But the song? That came as a real surprise.

Her self-appointed No.1 fan, Masato Tani, is a Japanese musician and composer who, it says on his website, writes music “drawing from his classical background, including pop, jazz, EDM and Japanese traditional music.” And he has written a “cheering song” for Naomi. He wants to call it Pump It Up, although Elvis Costello may have grabbed that title back in the 1970s, and its chorus is “Naomi Osaka: pump it, pump it, pump it up”.

For those who have seen the video, we can assure you that no elephants or dinosaurs were harmed in its making. And you could try singing a verse or two to support the No.1 when she plays in Dubai.

Naomi’s reaction? “You guys I screamed”. 

Serena Williams says bye bye to the 2019 Australian Open©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
Serena? “Sorry", not sorry!

But if you want to know how to be a real superstar, you need look no further than Serena Williams. Where others lie low in their time away from the courts, Serena takes centre stage.

There was Brooklyn Decker taking on her husband, Andy Roddick, on the American TV show Lip Synch Battle. She was doing a passable job, too, with Beyoncé’s “Sorry” when from behind a screen emerged Serena in black leotard, knee-high black boots and lots of hair. To say she stole the show as she gave the song her all was an understatement – Brooklyn knew she had been upstaged by a pro. As she Tweeted: “I love that Serena looks hot and elegant and I look like a caffeinated nine-year-old.”

Serena also made an appearance at the Super Bowl, featuring in an advert for the dating app Bumble (the ads are taken almost as seriously as the football on Super Bowl Sunday). She used the moment to give a feminist message to her followers: “Don’t wait to be told your place. Take it. Don’t wait for people to find you. Find them. In work, in love in life.”

After all of that, it is no wonder that the Australian Open final feels like a lifetime ago.