Very few sports can boast the athletic prowess, the big personalities and the glamour that follows the women’s professional tennis circuit.
From the gritty fighters to the graceful movers, the WTA is littered with players of all personalities and styles. But everybody has their favourite.
Since 2012, the WTA has released their website data, detailing the most ‘clicked on’ players for each calendar year. Success generally breeds profile views, but interestingly enough, titles don’t always equate to popularity.
For the second year running, Simona Halep was the most viewed player after her best ever season, finishing at No.2 on the year-end WTA Rankings. Halep shot to the top of the popularity rankings in 2014 after a breakthrough season saw her reach the final of Roland Garros and reach the top 2 for the first time.
In 2015, Halep held off Serena Williams after a blistering season that saw her win three of the four Grand Slams on offer. Williams has remained near the top of the popularity rankings since records began.
Another evergreen favourite of the people, Maria Sharapova has stayed constantly near the top (although below Williams), the Russian proving to be one of the fan’s favourite players of the last decade.
21-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, has been a fan-favourite ever since she burst onto the scene and jumped 19 places to move to fourth on the popularity list in 2014. After a rocky 2015 season she slipped all but one place to cement her place in fifth, despite her WTA ranking sliding to 48 at the end of 2015.
But whilst Bouchard shot to fame in the last four years, it has come at the cost of two-time Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian has relinquished her No. 1 position on the popularity rankings in 2012 and tumbled down the list to place at number 14 after the 2015 data was tallied.
I was fortunate enough to see many of these players hit the courts at 2016 Australian Open. I returned for my third year of employment as part of the editorial team writing for ausopen.com.
It was again, a privilege to be a working journalist at one of the world’s premier sporting events.
For three weeks in January I worked on content for Tennis Australia, Australian Open and their associated social media channels.