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 1 on this money list for each tour are Serena Williams (WTA) and Stacy Lewis (LPGA).
SERENA WILLIAMS (United States)
2014 Official WTA Prize Money: $9,317,298
Best Results: WINNER (7) US Open, WTA Finals, Sony Open, Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Western & Southern Open, Bank of the West Classic, Brisbane International; SF (2) Rogers Cup, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
WTA Awards: Player of the Year, Fan Favorite Match of the Year (WTA Finals SF vs Caroline Wozniacki)
The seasons move on and Serena Williams just keeps rolling along. She won 7 tournaments in 2014, raising her career singles titles to 64. In the “best results” section for other players on this list, I added quarterfinals appearances. First of all, those quarterfinal “losses” Serena had this year were really walkovers in Madrid and Beijing where she didn’t play the match due to injury or illness. But the real reason I didn’t do that for Serena is because when you win 7 times there isn’t a need to pad accomplishments. I almost didn’t even list the two semifinals. Serena won 7 tournaments. That says it all. One of those wins was her 18th singles Major, the US Open. She won the year-end finals for the 3rd straight time and 5th time overall. Her prize money total was north of 9 million dollars. And for all of that, it could have been better. For the first three Majors in 2014, Serena failed to even reach the quarters. Ana Ivanovic took her out in the 4th round at the Australian Open. Garbine Muguruza dismissed her in the 2nd round at Roland Garros. Most shocking was Alize Cornet beating her for the second time in 2014 by showing her the door at Wimbledon. Going into the summer hard court season, there was still doubt as to who would be Player of the Year. By year’s end, there was no doubt at all. So great is Serena that even in a dominant year, there is a sense she needed the US Open to salvage her season. Winning all the regular tournaments is one thing. The all-time greats measure themselves by Majors.
At 33, Serena continues to etch her name into the history books. Possibly the most visible female athlete in the world, she ended the season showing that when she’s on her game there is very little anybody can do to stop her. I see three players with the game to give her trouble, but they all have flaws that prevent them from reaching Serena’s level. Victoria Azarenka, who has multiple wins in recent years over Serena (to go with a whole lotta losses, too) can’t stay healthy. Petra Kvitova has all the skills to challenge anybody, but can’t seem to put it together from one match to the next. You never know which Petra is going to show up from match to match. Maria Sharapova is on a 10 year (year, not match!) losing streak to Serena not because Masha doesn’t have the game to compete with her. I think at this point it’s a huge psychological block. Sharapova plays great in matches leading up to playing Serena, but for years has just fallen apart against Williams for the most part. Oddly enough, it’s been lower ranked players in recent years surprising Serena early in tournaments (Cornet, Muguruza, etc). Once Williams picks up steam and reaches a final, she’s a tough out. 7 finals in 2014. 7 titles won. However, it is possible that with age, we could see more surprise losses from Serena similar to what happened in Melbourne, Paris and London. Of course, it’s also possible…maybe even likely…she will continue to wipe the floor with her competition as she did in New York and Singapore.
STACY LEWIS (United States)
2014 Official LPGA Prize Money: $2,539,039
Best Results: WINNER (3) North Texas LPGA Shootout, ShopRite LPGA Classic, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship; 2nd US Women’s Open, 3rd Kraft Nabisco Championship, T6 Wegmans LPGA Championship, 2nd Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, 2nd Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, 2nd Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, 2nd Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship, T2 JTBC Founders Cup, T5 Honda LPGA Thailand, T6 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, T6 Kia Classic, T6 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, T6 Reignwood LPGA Classic, T9 CME Group Tour Championship, T10 Airbus LPGA Classic
LPGA Awards: Player of the Year, Money List Title, Vare Trophy
Social Media: Twitter
I hope Stacy Lewis gets the respect she’s earned over her LPGA career. Oh sure, she receives her share of acclaim in the insular golf world, but as far as mainstream sports fans are concerned…and maybe in some golf circles, too…I just…I don’t know. When Paula Creamer or Michelle Wie do something spectacular or dramatic, as each did in 2014, it’s splashed all over the mainstream sportswaves. And I love that. I wouldn’t change that for anything. The more positive publicity, the better. But Stacy Lewis is doing historic things in American women’s golf. In 2012, she was the first American Player of the Year since Beth Daniel in 1994. This year she took that a step further by winning the Triple Crown; Player of the Year, the Money List title and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Stacy is the first American to pull off that hat trick since Betsy King in 1993. And with all due respect to the legends of the game that built the LPGA to what it is today, the global field of players on the LPGA with whom Lewis has to compete against is deeper than its ever been. I saw a golf publication that listed its top stories of the year on the LPGA tour. #1 wasn’t Stacy’s Triple Crown. It should have been.
What a year it was for Stacy. After missing only 1 cut in each of the last three seasons, she was finally a perfect 28 for 28 in 2014. Not only was she in the money every week, in her 28 starts she was out of the top 30 only twice. She was only out of the top 20 only six times. 10 times she was in the top 3. Since she turned pro, her prize money total has increased every single year over the previous year. As she mentioned in the video above, she’s focused on going out and competing every week. But clearly, she’s aware that for a player of her stature, some might expect a few more Major wins than Stacy’s 2. That’s especially true when compared to her closest current rival, Inbee Park, who has 5 Majors at the age of 26. However, let’s not underestimate how difficult winning a Major is. Remember that an all-time great like Nancy Lopez has 3. Lorena Ochoa “only” won 2, as did JoAnne Carner. Not everybody can rack up 13 like Mickey Wright or 10 like Annika Sorenstam (or 15 like Patty Berg or 11 like Louise Suggs, etc). All I can say is that when you win the Triple Crown in golf and are the first American to do so in 21 years…hey, I call myself bangkokbobby but I am an AMERICAN of half-Thai heritage…I am LOVING what Stacy is doing representing the Stars and Stripes.
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