Instead of a year in review focusing on overall achievements, I thought this time I’d do a countdown of the top 30 money list leaders from the WTA and LPGA. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for this top 30. Number 1 on the money list from each tour are Serena Williams (WTA) and Inbee Park (LPGA).
SERENA WILLIAMS (United States)
2013 Official WTA Prizemoney: $12,385,572
Awards: WTA Player of the Year, Year-End #1 Ranked Player, ITF World Champion, AP Female Athlete of the Year, ESPY Best Female Athlete, ESPY Best Female Tennis Player, WTA Money List winner (record amount)
Best Results: WINNER US Open, WINNER Roland Garros, WTA Tour Championships, WINNER Sony Open, WINNER Mutua Madrid Open, WINNER Internazionali BNL d’Italia, WINNER Rogers Cup, WINNER China Open, WINNER Brisbane International, WINNER Family Circle Cup, WINNER Swedish Open, RUNNER-UP Qatar Total Open, RUNNER-UP Western & Southern Open
Serena Williams doesn’t play against the other players currently on tour. Although she might be humble about it, she is peerless when compared to her contemporaries. Oh sure, she is human and loses matches from time to time. Were it not for two losses to Victoria Azarenka, she would have been 13 for 13 in finals in 2013. But 11 for 13, plus beating Vika at the one that mattered most, the US Open final, is still remarkable and highly exceptional. Instead, Serena competes with the all-time greats. Each Major championship, each achievement and title, enhances and strengthens her stature among the legends of the game like Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court, Chris Evert and others. For Serena, all that’s left is comparing resumés at career’s end to see where she ranks among the Tennis Goddesses.
There are some, and the number is growing, that think she’s already the best to ever play women’s tennis. She certainly has the greatest serve in the history of women’s tennis. It’s not just about speed. Her sister Venus can at times outserve Serena in terms of speed. It’s also placement and having such solidly simple mechanics that it’s more reliable under pressure than some other players who also serve hard. I don’t know yet if I want to say she’s already the best ever overall as a player. I think we sometimes become enraptured with whomever is creating historic achievements at the moment. But 2013 did nothing to diminish her growing reputation as the ultimate women’s tennis player. 11 titles, including 2 Majors. Big premier wins at Miami, Rome, Madrid, Toronto and Beijing. Capping it all off with the WTA Tour Championships singles crown. AP Female Athlete of the Year. ESPYs for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Tennis Player. ITF World Champion. WTA Player of the Year. The Year End #1. A record prizemoney count of $12,385,572 (not to mention many millions more in endorsements). All told, she has an amazing 57 career WTA singles titles with no foreseeable end in sight.
The question going into 2014 is whether anybody will stand up and be a rival. Since Justine Henin was in her prime before her first retirement, there hasn’t been anybody to really challenge Serena until Vika won a couple of matches last year. Still, when the lights shined brightest, Serena turned the tables. The rest of the top ladies have to get better or 2014 will be a repeat of 2013, unless Father Time catches up with Serena. But so far, so good. She hasn’t seemed to pale any since she passed 30. In fact, she seems to be getting better with age.
INBEE PARK (South Korea)
2013 Official LPGA Prizemoney: $2,456,619
Awards: LPGA Player of the Year, LPGA Money List winner, Year-End World #1 Ranking
Best Results: WINNER US Women’s Open, WINNER Kraft Nabisco Championship, WINNER Wegmans LPGA Classic, WINNER Honda LPGA Thailand, WINNER North Texas LPGA Shootout, WINNER Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, 3rd Reignwood LPGA Classic, 4th Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by Banamex, T4 LPGA Lotte Championship presented by J Golf, 5th CME Group Titleholders, 7th Kingsmill Championship
Although mainstream media began to pay attention to Inbee Park in 2013, she was already a proven winner on the LPGA. Her breakout was winning the 2008 US Open, when she followed in the footsteps of her hero, Se Ri Pak. In 2012, Inbee took her game to a new level winning the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the also winning the money title. But outside of LPGA die-hards, Inbee was still largely overlooked in the American media. So what changed in 2013? History. Inbee walked in the footsteps of one of the greatest female athletes of the 20th century, Babe Didrikson Zaharias. By winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the US Women’s Open, Inbee matched Babe’s feat of winning the first three LPGA Majors of the season, an accomplishment not duplicated since 1950 (in that season, Babe won the only 3 Majors of the season). When you consider the legends of the LPGA who have come since Babe…Annika Sorenstam, Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright, Nancy Lopez, Patty Berg, Joanne Carner, Lorena Ochoa and others…but nobody did what Inbee did in 2013, it’s truly historic. On top of that history, she became the first South Korean player to win Player of the Year. Considering all the great Seoul Sisters who have dominated women’s golf, it’s a special distinction to be the first to win Player of the Year.
Inbee’s winning ways were not confined to the Majors, as she won a total of 6 tournaments in 2013, her highest single season total to date. She defeated her good friend So-Yeon Ryu in a playoff to win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She edged Carlota Ciganda by a shot to win the North Texas LPGA Shootout. And then there’s the Honda LPGA Thailand. OK, this is a post to celebrate Inbee, and I am. But I must confess to still being in anguish about how Ariya Jutanugarn had victory slip away on the final hole.
Moving forward in 2014, I hope Inbee wins at least 3 titles. I’d just like to see her continue her momentum. I absolutely think she was snubbed by the Associated Press by not even finishing in the top 3 for Female Athlete of the Year. No disrespect to those great athletes who did, but Britney Griner, as wonderful a player as she is and having had a great playoffs, wasn’t even the best rookie in the WNBA. Elena Delle Donne was. Inbee did something in her sport that hadn’t been done in 63 years. 63 YEARS, AP!!! And that is less than Missy Franklin in a non-Olympic year? I have my doubts. Perhaps doing so much in the first 6 months of the year made people forget about Inbee at the end of the season. I also have doubts about that. I just think Inbee is not a name that they respect and know. Had other female golfers who are more media darlings had exactly the same season as Inbee, I think they woud have been afforded more accolades. So I hope Inbee stays in the spotlight and keeps reminding people just how great she is.
SELECTED 2013 PICS OF SERENA WILLIAMS and INBEE PARK
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE