For the 2018 edition of my WTA and LPGA money list countdown I will focus on the top 10 from each tour, as determined by the money lists. For the WTA, singles, doubles and mixed are combined for total earnings. Here are the #7 players for 2018: Serena Williams (WTA) and Sei-Young Kim (LPGA).
SERENA WILLIAMS (WTA)
2018 Prize Money: $3,770,170
Awards: WTA Comeback Player of the Year
Okay, let me deal with the incident that will forever mark 2018 for Serena Williams, the US Open final full game penalty. I heard a lot of people approach what happened from many different points of view. In my opinion, how one viewed what happened largely depended on the background of the person critiquing. Here’s my view. Initially, controversy started when Williams was warned for a coaching violation. Now, whether Serena even saw the violation committed by her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, or whether she would rather lose than cheat, none of that matters. Her coach was recorded on camera giving hand signals and, more importantly, admitted to doing so. A lot of people who don’t follow tennis…and, surprisingly, some that do…don’t understand it doesn’t matter if the player receives the coaching or even sees the coaching. If the coach is caught by the chair umpire coaching from the stands, the player suffers the consequence.
Some contend that chair umpire Carlos Ramos would not have warned a female player, but he has a history of nailing male players for coaching. After this part of the incident, there was a racquet smash. Pretty much everybody agrees on the point penalty regarding that…but here’s the key, that was the second code of conduct penalty. Serena, as many tennis players do, complain vociferously to the chair umpire. By itself, that’s not a terrible thing. However, in the opinion of Carlos Ramos she went on too far and was assessed another code of conduct penalty. That resulted in a game forfeiture penalty. That’s really when all hell broke loose. Some claimed a male player would not have been penalized a full game for complaining to the umpire. But it wasn’t merely because of verbal abuse, it was because it was the third code of conduct violation. If the coaching and racquet smash had not happened, and for some other reason Serena was going on and on complaining, it would have been a code of conduct warning. From what I’ve written, one would rightly assume that I feel the chair umpire followed the correct rules procedures. However, what would be incorrect is in thinking I agreed with everything he did. The coaching and the racquet abuse…no problems. I’m with Ramos 100% on those. But this is a MAJOR FINAL. Unless Serena throws her racquet at me, if I’m the chair umpire I do not hand down a third code of conduct penalty that would cost a full game. I think you have to understand the situation. He wasn’t wrong. But he could have shown better judgement, in my opinion. In this situation, regardless for whom you were cheering (and I was cheering for Naomi Osaka), you want the final result completely settled by the players. I think Osaka was going to win regardless of the controversy. BUT…I have spent almost two decades watching Serena pull off incredible comebacks. I cannot say she wouldn’t have come back had she not been put further in a hole by the loss of a game.
It’s really a shame all of that marred a great season that earned Serena the WTA Comeback Player of the Year Award. Although only the second time (2006) since 1999 that Williams did not win a singles title, she did reach the final at Wimbledon and the aforementioned US Open, arguably the two greatest tournaments of the year. Although she didn’t play out full year, that’s not unusual for her. She continues to go strong. Yes, the field has closed the gap somewhat, in the sense that there are probably more players that go on court thinking they honestly have a chance. But those players will have more to do before I believe anybody but Serena is the favorite in any tournament she plays.
SEI-YOUNG KIM (LPGA)
2018 Prize Money: $1,369,418
Titles: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
31-under par. That’s all you need to know abou Sei-Young Kim in 2018. That’s unthinkable. It’s so incredible that I know it happened and I still cannot believe it! Sei-Young already was tied for the lowest score to par in a tournament at 27-under, which she did at the Founders Cup back in 2016. Annika Sorenstam also reached 27-under (which included her 59 round) at the 2001 Standard Register Ping. I guess Sei-Young was tired of sharing the record! She not only beat the previous mark, she gave herself a cushion of 4 more shots in winning the 2018 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic with an LPGA record to par 31-under. She is one of my favorite players to watch. She has a delightful personality and is an incredible shotmaker. The fact that she now holds the first and shares the second lowest to par victories in LPGA history just goes to show how unbelievable she can play when she has it all going.
With the win at Thornberry, the 2015 LPGA Rookie of the Year made it 4 straight seasons with at least one title. She was also tied for 2nd at Evian and tied for 4th at the Women’s British Open, among her 9 top tens in 2018. If she could maybe just be a little more accurate off the tee…give herself more chances…she could be a real threat to Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung-Hyun Park, Brooke Henderson and all the players circling number one in the Rolex Rankings. As it is, she has demonstrated on a couple of occasions, when she has everything working…she can go to to place where nobody can follow.
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