WTA 2023 Mount Rushmore: Swiatek and three others defined their sport

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Early in 2023, there was quite a bit of talk about the WTA potentially starting to be run by a Big 3. This included Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elena Rybakina. The issue is that the Big 3 in men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, were not termed that until they started dominating tennis over a number of years. On the WTA side, we are just a couple of years removed from Ash Barty being the top-ranked player.

Besides, while the argument could be made for Iga Swiatek to be involved in some kind of Big 3 as she has won four major titles, Rybakina and Sabalenka have won just one apiece. Still, Sabalenka did overtake Swiatek for the No. 1 ranking for a short bit of 2023, so she does appear to be a real threat to the Pole for the next several years. With Rybakina, that remains to be proved.

In fact, for the WTA 2023 Mount Rushmore, I do not have Rybakina on the list. She struggled for a great part of the last half of the year and did not win a title after May. So who is on the WTA Mount Rushmore currently? These four players.

Iga Swiatek is a no-brainer to have on the WTA 2023 Mount Rushmore

Iga Swiatek

Swiatek proved at the year-end WTA Finals that when she wants to win she is likely going to win. She showed up to the event in red while everyone else wore white, and this was likely intentional as Swiatek sees herself as separate from the rest of the group. She won the title, and re-took her No. 1 ranking, and finished with six titles, including her third victory at the French Open. She is also still just 22 years old.

Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka had a fantastic year as she reached at least the semifinals in all four Grand Slams. She started the year by winning the Australian Open, her first major title. She won the three titles in 2023, and became the second Belarusian woman to become No. 1 on the WTA tour – Victoria Azarenka was the first. She lost her ranking in the WTA Finals, and she needs to learn to have a bit more touch to her game, but she is going to be a threat to win several more Grand Slams in her career.

Naomi Osaka

How can I have Osaka on this list if she did not even play in 2023? Easy. The mere mention of Osaka’s return, which is scheduled to happen in January, will push back almost any other WTA news. She is a four-time Grand Slam winner who has struggled with the mental side of the game and gave birth to her first child in 2023 so she will be trying to become one of just a few women to give birth and win a Grand Slam tournament. She is only 26 years old so she has plenty of time to show what she is still capable of.

Coco Gauff

After mostly struggling from March through a first-match loss at Wimbledon in July, Gauff changed to coach Brad Gilbert and the world changed. Gauff at just 19 years old won the US Open (where she defeated Sabalenka in three sets in the final) along with two other tournaments from late July through early September. She also made the quarterfinals in every other tournament. She rose to No. 3 on the tour and could reach No. 1 in 2024.

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