The Baseline Awards will take a look back at some of the most noteworthy accomplishments of 2021.


The 2021 US Open was, among other things, a testament to the WTA Tour's incredible depth. Ten of the tournament's Top 20 seeds had won at least one Grand Slam singles title. The women's event was going to be an unpredictable and compelling fight from start to finish.

The leading contender for the title was arguably its defending champion, Naomi Osaka, even though she had missed the prior two Grand Slams. Few courts in the world suited the Japanese star’s game more than the ones at Flushing Meadows. However, Osaka’s hopes of retaining the title came to a screeching halt in the third round at the hands of young Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who fist-pumped and willed her way to the upset.

With Osaka gone, the odds of top seed Ashleigh Barty winning her second straight major improved. But her dreams were also dashed in the third round by veteran American—and frequent giant-slayer—Shelby Rogers.

Nevertheless, the round of 16 included this impressive roster: former world No. 1 and US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova; 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu; 2021 French Open finalists Barbora Krejcikova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova; Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic; and a resurgent Garbine Muguruza. Surely one of these accomplished players would claim the season-ending major.

But Fernandez remained a threat—and aside from her, another teenager was unexpectedly lurking in the fourth round.

Raducanu holds the 2021 US Open trophy in Flushing Meadows

Raducanu holds the 2021 US Open trophy in Flushing Meadows

Emma Raducanu, who delighted her home crowd at Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon a few months earlier, had battled through the qualifying and to the second week of the US Open without dropping a set.

In the round of 16, the Brit routed Rogers, then knocked off Bencic and the 17th seed Maria Sakkari to reach her very first career final. In the championship match, she faced, of all players, Fernandez, a former junior rival who was a one-woman wrecking crew through the bottom half of the draw. After shocking Osaka, Fernandez topped 2016 US Open winner Angelique Kerber; fifth seed Elina Svitolina and second seed Aryna Sabalenka to advance to just her third career final.

The championship match between Raducanu and Fernandez was one of the most unlikely in tournament history. It was the first US Open final in the Open Era to feature two unseeded women’s finalists, and the first in more than 20 years to see two teens battle for the title. In the end, Raducanu sprinted past Fernandez in straight sets—the 19th and 20th she had captured on the trot—to win her first career title. A major title at that.

Even with the major upsets, it was a fitting conclusion to one of the wildest tournaments in years at any level.