For the fourth annual edition of my WTA and LPGA money list countdown I will focus on the dynamic dozen from each tour, the top 12 on the money lists. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for total earnings. Here are the #2 players for 2016: Serena Williams (WTA) and Lydia Ko (LPGA).
SERENA WILLIAMS (WTA)
2016 Prize Money: $7,675,030
Titles: (singles) Wimbledon (Major), Internazionali BNL d’Italia; (doubles) Wimbledon (Major)
Awards: ESPY Best Female Tennis Player
You know Serena Williams is on a level beyond any but maybe one or two historic tennis players when she wins Wimbledon (singles and doubles), wins Rome, finishes runner-up at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Indian Wells, making over 7 million dollars in prize money…even though she took the entire fall season off after the US Open…and it’s considered a down year. However, that’s how it is when the end of the year rolls around the number 2 is next to her name…actually, any number other than #1. But the 35-year old Williams is still such a force in the game that I would not bet on anybody other than her to win in Melbourne in a few weeks. That’s not to disrespect Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep or anybody else. Although Serena has slipped to #2…I’m not sure yet if that’s a sign of age and attrition catching up with her or merely a temporary bump in the road. We’ll see soon enough down under where potential threats (if her game is truly diminishing) like Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Madison Keys and Maria Sharapova will not be there. In 2016, Serena’s “down” year had 3 Major finals and at least the semis of all of them. If she doesn’t duplicate at least the semis…and I would expect an appearance in the final…then perhaps it might be time to entertain the possibility of slippage.
LYDIA KO (LPGA)
2016 Prize Money: $2,492,994
Titles: ANA Inspiration (Major), Kia Classic, Marathon Classic, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship; Olympic Silver Medalist
Awards: LPGA Annika Award, ESPY Best Female Golfer
Basically, what I said about Serena Williams can apply to Lydia Ko. Yet another amazing year from the Kiwi prodigy; her 2nd LPGA Major at the ANA Inspiration to go along with titles at the Kia Classic, Marathon Classic and Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She also won the Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics. Had Lydia played a couple more tournaments, depending on how she placed maybe just one more tournament, she probably wins the 2016 Money title instead of barely finishing runner-up. She also lost the Player of the Year and Vare Trophy races by thin margins. The Vare Trophy was paper thin, with Ko losing out to In-Gee Chun with a 69.596 scoring average to Chun’s 69.583. She won 4 LPGA titles in 2016, 5 LPGA titles in 2015. She has14 LPGA titles at 19 years old. If she keeps up the pace she’s set the last two seasons, by the end of 2018 she will have more titles than her age. I don’t have the lifetime of LPGA fandom that I do in tennis, where I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t a tennis fan. I’ve only followed the LPGA since 1998. That’s relatively short compared to other fans that I know. But still, it’s getting close to 20 years soon…and I have never seen anything like Lydia Ko on the LPGA, what she has done and continues to do at her age. If she keeps up the pace she’s set the last two years, she could qualify for the Hall of Fame…by the age of 21! Now, I realize she would lack the qualification of time on tour…I’m just talking points. She would have to stay on tour and build up the years to get officially inducted. This is so special to watch. I remain in awe of Lydia Ko.
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