Like 2013, this year I will do a countdown of the top money list leaders from both the WTA and LPGA. Last year I did the top 30, but this year I will do the top 25. Note that as of this post, the retired Li Na has been removed from the WTA website money list rankings, but I will include her here. Thus, some WTA players will be off by one position on my list compared to the WTA website list. Also, Hyo Joo Kim is not on my LPGA list due to not being a member this year. I’m certain she will be on the list in the future. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for this top 25. Number 6 on this money list for each tour are Caroline Wozniacki (WTA) and Shanshan Feng (LPGA).
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI (Denmark)
2014 Official WTA Prize Money: $3,372,350
WTA Awards: Fan Favorite Player on Twitter, Fan Favorite Match of the Year (vs. Serena Williams, WTA Finals), Selfie of the Year
Best Results: WINNER (1) Istanbul Cup; RUNNER-UP (2) US Open, Toray Pan Pacific Open; SF (6) WTA Finals, Wuhan Open, Western & Southern Open, Aegon International, Abierto Monterrey Afirme, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, QF (2) Sony Open, Rogers Cup
Over the years, Caroline Wozniacki has been defined in the tennis media and among some fans for what she hasn’t accomplished more than what she has. I’ve done it myself, pointing out the missing Major on her resume. Then for a period she was defined by who she was dating. Questions swirled about whether being part of a high profile sports couple was hurting her game and the game of her then-boyfriend. So it was an absolute joy to watch Sunshine move forward on her own and redefine her own story in 2014. Once said ex-boyfriend departed the scene, Wozniacki started to look more like the player who once sat atop women’s tennis. She made three finals in the second half of the year, including the US Open, as well as three other semis. Sunshine won in Istanbul and took Serena to the edge in the semifinals of the WTA Finals, voted by fans the Favorite Match of the Year. After a period of time in the doldrums, Caro was again moving up the rankings.
She was shining off the tennis court as well, particularly her run for charity at the New York City Marathon. She ran a very impressive 3:26:33. It was a time that had some experts in running wondering how well she could do if she seriously trained the way marathon runners do instead of squeezing in runs here and there around her tennis schedule. Marathoner and Mayo Clinic doctor Michael Joyner suggested that based on what she did without proper marathon training that she could possibly get into the low 2:30s with the correct regimen. That would put her in striking distance of the women’s champion, Mary Keitany. And she did it all with her trademark smile. That’s what was so inspiring to me. After being bounced around the headlines and news reports for things she would probably rather not be, she emerged and claimed a place of happiness. She radiated light and joy. This is why they call her Sunshine.
Fan Favorite Selfie of the Year
SHANSHAN FENG (China)
2014 Official LPGA Prizemony: $1,404,623
Best Results: WINNER (1) Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; T2 Ricoh Women’s British Open, 6th Kraft Nabisco Championship, T6 Wegmans LPGA Championship, T10 Evian Championship, 2nd Lorena Ochoa Invitational, 3rd Manulife Financial Classic, T4 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, 6th Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship, T6 Blue Bay LPGA, 8th Meijer LPGA Classic, T8 ShopRite LPGA Classic
As much as I love newly retired Chinese tennis icon Li Na, I have made the argument that countrywoman Shanshan Feng might be the more accomplished trailblazer in her sport of golf. Already Shanshan has a Major, is much younger and is on pace to win more tournaments before all is said and done on her career. Li Na was a hot and cold player. When she was hot, she was very hot. But when she was cold, she could be ice cold. Shanshan is much more consistent. 12 top 10s in 2014. 4 top 10s in Majors (and the other Major was a T15). Another win (at Sime Darby), her 4th LPGA title. It doesn’t count on this LPGA list, but she just won her second Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour. At 25 years old, she could be just getting started. She’s so good that I even forgive her for breaking my heart at Sime Darby by overtaking Pornanong Phatlum. I take nothing away from Li Na, but I think Shanshan deserves to get a lot of the same love from mainstream sports media for being a trailblazer on the LPGA that Li Na received for being a trailblazer on the WTA.
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