Barty wins 2nd WTA Player of the Year; Krejickova gets 2 honors

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ash Barty’s Wimbledon title and hold on the No. 1 ranking helped her win WTA Player of the Year for the second time.

Barbora Krejcikova was selected as Most Improved Player and shared the Doubles Team of the Year award with Katerina Siniakova. Krejcikova was the first woman since 2000 to win both the singles and doubles championships at the French Open.

Emma Raducanu was picked as Newcomer of the Year after winning the U.S. Open at age 18 and becoming the first player to go from qualifying rounds all the way to a Grand Slam title.

Carla Suarez Navarro is the Comeback Player of the Year after returning from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to play on tour and represent Spain in the Billie Jean King Cup finals.

Barty also was the WTA Player of the Year in 2019. This season, she led the tour with five titles, including her second Grand Slam championship at the All England Club.

The 25-year-old Australian also finished at No. 1 in the year-end rankings for the third season in a row.

Krejcikova had never won a singles title before taking three in 2021, including at Roland Garros, and she rose from No. 65 at the end of 2020 to a high of No. 3 in the singles rankings.

Krejcikova and Siniakova were recognized as the Doubles Team of the Year for the second time, after 2018. They won the French Open, the WTA Finals and an Olympic gold medal together this year.

French players get life bans for fixing

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LONDON — Two low-ranked French players were banned from the sport for life after being found guilty of match-fixing by a hearing officer.

Jules Okala, a 25-year-old with a career-best ATP ranking of No. 338, and Mick Lescure, a 29-year-old with a top ranking of No. 487, “admitted multiple charges,” the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Neither player is allowed to compete at – or even attend – any sanctioned event again.

Okala was found guilty of seven match-fixing charges and fined $15,000 in addition to the permanent suspension. Lescure was found guilty of eight charges and fined $40,000 on top of the ban.

The punishments come after both players were involved in law enforcement investigations in France and Belgium, according to the sport’s integrity agency.

Ash Barty wins Australia’s top sports award for second time

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Ash Barty’s Australian Open singles title in January was enough to ensure the former top-ranked player won Australia’s most prestigious annual sports award — despite retiring from the game less than two months later.

Barty has been given The Don Award, named after its most accomplished and famous cricketer Don Bradman.

Barty shocked the tennis world in March when she announced her retirement at the age of 25. The three-time major winner was the No. 1-ranked female player at the time of her retirement decision.

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s Don Award is given to an athlete or a team “which has provided the most inspiration to the country through performance and example in the past year.”

Barty (2019, 2022) joins Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sally Pearson (2012, 2014) and Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker (2008, 2009) as a multiple winner of the award.

Barty said she had decided before the Australian Open started that it would be her last major tournament.

“This year was certainly my most enjoyable Australian Open . . . because it felt free,” Barty said in a television interview. “I played without consequence, I played like a little kid. In my eyes, there was no pressure. It was just about me trying to redeem myself, in a way, and playing how I’d always wanted to play – go out there and play like the kid that fell in love with sport.”

Barty said she has no plans to return to tennis.

“In my mind there was never going to be a perfect ending, but it was my perfect ending,” Barty said of her retirement. “It was never about finishing on a win or on a really high emotional feeling. It was just about collectively, I felt it was right.

“Now (that decision) has led to nine months of just an incredible life off the court. It’s been amazing.”

Barty married her long-time partner Garry Kissick in late July. She also golfs frequently and is reported to be playing off a handicap of low single figures.