Winning a Hologic WTA Tour title is a special achievement, and the pomp and circumstance of the trophy presentation is often memorable on its own. But this year, several memorable postmatch moments rose to the top.
From banter between top players to mic-drop worthy finishes, here are some of our favorite trophy ceremony moments from 2023.
Rybakina and Sabalenka thrill, then banter, in Indian Wells
The rivalry between Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka added four new chapters in 2023, and while their highest-profile final came in January at Australian Open — where Sabalenka captured her first major title — the best postmatch scenes came two months later, when Rybakina won the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Having lost four three-setters to Sabalenka previously, Rybakina was eager to note that she scored a long-awaited win after beating her 7-6(11), 6-4 to capture her first WTA 1000 crown.
“It’s actually [the] first time it went my way,” she said, “so, hopefully, we’re gonna play many more finals.”
That led Sabalenka to drop one of the year’s most iconic quotes: “I will make sure it was the last one,” she said, jokingly.
“No, no, no. We see next time,” Rybakina replied with a grin. “It’s always been a pleasure to play against you, and always toughest battles.”
As it turned out, Sabalenka wasn’t totally omniscient. Rybakina won again when the two played in Beijing, before Sabalenka had the final word with a three-set victory in a winner-take-all round-robin match at the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun.
Svitolina donates Strasbourg winner’s purse to Ukraine
This week, Elina Svitolina was crowned the WTA’s Comeback Player of the Year as a reward for a return from maternity leave, where she reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the semifinals at Wimbledon before returning to the Top 25 in the rankings.
But it was in the aftermath of her second title in Strasbourg, a WTA 250 held just prior to Roland Garros, where the Ukrainian truly shined.
Ranked No. 508 and a wild card at the tournament she won for the first time in 2020 — in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic –Svitolina won her first title as a mother, and afterward, dedicated the full sum of her winnings back to humanitarian relief efforts in her country as a consequence of its ongoing war with Russia.
“I would like to share this energy with Ukraine, with my homeland,” she said in her victory speech. “All my prize money from this tournament is going to go to the kids of Ukraine, [which is] much needed in this tough moment.”
To close out the year, Ons Jabeur also made a similar stand, though her moment came not in a trophy ceremony, but after a victory nonetheless. After beating Marketa Vondrousova in round-robin action in Cancun, the Tunisian announced she’d donate a portion of her prize money to support Palestinians in Gaza.
Hats, er, trophy tops, off for Swiatek at Roland Garros
Watch your head! Iga Swiatek is more than familiar with the winner’s trophy at Roland Garros — her win in 2023 marked the third time she’s raised the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in her career — but the World No.1 got a surprise she didn’t bargain for when she lifted it aloft in her celebrations after defeating Karolina Muchova in the final.
Afterward in her postmatch press conference, Swiatek gave a play-by-play of the slip-up.
“I honestly felt like I’m holding it with my finger, so I guess all these emotions, I don’t know, caused that,” she said. “Sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I’m glad that Suzanne Lenglen trophy is fine and it won’t happen again probably, but we’ll see.
“I just hope I’m gonna have a chance to hold it again in future years.”
Gauff sends a message to her haters at the US Open
Coco Gauff’s US Open triumph this summer was the realization of a long-awaited dream, as she became the youngest American to win her home Grand Slam title since Serena Williams more than 20 years ago.
But it was also a pointed message. And after the match, Gauff so much as confirmed that. She stepped up to the mic to directly address those who “didn’t believe in her” and thanked them.
“A month ago, I won a 500 title and people said I would stop at that,” she said. “Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title, and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. So, three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now.
“I tried my best to carry this with grace, and I’ve been doing my best … To those who thought [they] were putting water in my fire, you were really adding gas to it, and now I’m really burning so bright right now.”
Zhengzhou: Zheng’s impromptu karaoke session
Ten aces and 30 winners weren’t the only high notes that Zheng Qinwen hit on championship Sunday in Zhengzhou. After winning her second career WTA singles title at the WTA 500 event by beating Barbora Krejcikova in three sets, Zheng served up an impromptu karaoke session and sang a Chinese pop song during the trophy ceremony.
But the musical interlude shouldn’t have come as a surprise, if you’ve been paying attention to the 2023 Most Improved Player of the Year’s off-court interests: Karaoke is one of her favorite hobbies.