If you’re a sports entity preparing a showcase event featuring some of the best athletes in the world, two words should be left out of your planning:

“Scramble mode.”

There’s potential for plenty of pratfalls while rushing to meet a deadline, a fact the Women’s Tennis Association could attest to after the conclusion of the season-ending championships in Cancun, Mexico. Selected as the venue less than two months before the tournament’s start, the race was on to get ready for the round-robin event, with the push including construction of a stadium court. By the final week of the season, the field was set, with the players making a return trip to Mexico after a lively tournament in Guadalajara in 2021.

Optimism was high, but it seemed a vibe shift was imminent, perhaps starting with four-time Grand Slam champion Iga Swiatek missing the memo on wearing white for the photo shoot.


After her opening-round match on the first day, top seed Aryna Sabalenka let loose about the inconsistent playability of the tournament’s lone court, one that she barely had a chance to practice on.

And aside from battling each other, the top eight’s most interminable opponent had to be Mother Nature. Rain and gale-force winds forced the players off the court with regularity, which also wreaked havoc on the scheduling. That, in turn, did a number on the attendance, especially during the day sessions.


It was a grueling test for singles and doubles players alike. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva—one of the top teams in the second half of the year—survived the gauntlet to win their first WTA Finals title together. On the singles side, a dream semifinal took shape with doubles partners Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula facing off on one side of the draw, while Sabalenka and Swiatek battled on the other. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the 2023 WTA Finals without weather playing a part.

At the end of the event, it was Swiatek who reigned (“rained”?) supreme, defeating Pegula in straight sets to claim her first WTA Finals title. She also returned to the top of the rankings post-tournament, making it an all-around successful tournament where the only thing that was predictable was unpredictability.