It was a volcanic year in women’s tennis, with the tour spewing out new, red-hot stars and unpredictable results that stunned fans all year. When the smoke finally cleared, though, the landscape was dominated by Ash—Ashleigh Barty that is, our WTA Player of the Year.
Barty, a former prodigy from Australia, left the tour for an extended period at age 18 when incessant travel and the demands of the pro life, became too onerous. But here she is, at age 25, a sensational, still-evolving comeback story. Barty finished 2021 atop the rankings for a third consecutive year, joining an elite club alongside an iconic quartet: Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.
Compact at 5'5" but solidly built, nimble on her feet, and blessed with great hands and a shrewd tennis mind, Barty won a tour-best five titles this year, including her first Wimbledon and three WTA 1000s at Miami and Madrid, Cincinnati. She also compiled a sterling 14-1 record against the WTA Top 20.