Australian Open, World No 1, Belarus: Everything you always wanted to know about Aryna Sabalenka (but never had time to find out) – updated after 2023 WTA Finals
Aryna Sabalenka won her first slam title at the Australian Open in January. Here are answers to some common questions you may have about the Belarusian
Who is Aryna Sabalenka?
Aryna Sabalenka is a professional tennis player from Belarus. She was born on May 5, 1998 and is currently 25 years old (as of November 7, 2023). She’s won 13 singles titles worldwide and became world No 1 for the first time on September 11, 2023.
Why is Aryna Sabalenka in the news?
Aryna Sabalenka became the 29th woman ever to top the WTA rankings when she hit world No 1 spot on September 11, 2023. The Belarusian won the Australian Open in January, reached the semi-finals at Roland-Garros and at Wimbledon, and finished runner-up at the US Open, where she lost out to Coco Gauff. She lost the No 1 ranking to Iga Swiatek after the 2023 WTA Finals, where she was a semi-finalist, losing to the Pole.
She won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2023, beating the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to win the final. It was a first slam final for the 24-year-old and she finished it off on her fourth match point.
Before that, Aryna Sabalenka reached the then-biggest final of her career at the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas. The powerful Belarussian qualified for the semi-finals in second place in her round-robin group, and went on to beat world No 1 Iga Swiatek in three sets in the semi-finals for one of her biggest wins of her career.
What is Sabalenka’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
The Belarusian has avoided posting anything on social media or made any statements since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
However, in recent months she has commented on feeling “hate” from others on tour because of her nationality. And at Wimbledon she distanced herself from the actions of the Belarusian government.
Can Sabalenka continue to play on the WTA Tour and at Grand Slams?
Aryna Sabalenka is allowed to continue playing on the WTA Tour and the Grand Slam events.
The All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association announced in April 2022 that Russian and Belarusian players would not be permitted to compete in any tournaments in the United Kingdom based on the directional guidance provided by the UK government for sporting events. In 2023, they confirmed Russians and Belarusians could compete if they signed a declaration of neutrality.
Sabalenka and other Russian/Belarusian players are not allowed to compete under their national flag on the Tour and other Grand Slams. Russia and Belarus are also be banned from team competitions, including Davis Cup, until further notice.
What is her best Grand Slam performance?
Sabalenka won her first Grand Slam title when she beat Elena Rybakina to win the Australian Open in January 2023. Before that she had reached three Grand Slam semi-finals but lost each time; to Karolina Pliskova at Wimbledon in 2021, to Leylah Fernandez in the semi-finals of the US Open in 2021 and to Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals of the US Open in 2022.
She advanced to her first US Open final in 2023 but lost to Coco Gauff 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
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What nationality is Aryna Sabalenka?
Aryna Sabalenka is Belarussian. She was born in the country’s capital, Minsk.
How many titles has Sabalenka won?
Aryna Sabalenka has won 13 singles titles on the WTA tour, including two in a row in 2023, in Adelaide and at the Australian Open.
Sabalenka also won the Mutua Madrid Open in 2021. She had earlier won the prestigious WTA Wuhan Open two times in a row, in 2018 and 2019. The event was not played in 2020.
What about in doubles?
Aryna Sabalenka excels in both main forms of the game. In February 2021, she reached the top ranking for doubles, having played most of her doubles events in 2020 with Belgian Elise Mertens. Sabalenka has won six doubles titles in her career.
After winning the 2021 Australian Open doubles title with Mertens (their second Grand Slam title as a team), the pair announced that they would not play together at the rest of the Slams as Sabalenka wanted to focus on singles.
What is Sabalenka’s best ranking?
Sabalenka became No 1 for the first time in September 2023.
Heading into the 2023 US Open, her career-high ranking was No 2 — a mark she reached for the first time on August 23, 2021. She then returned to No 2 after winning the Australian Open in 2023. She took over as world No 1 for the first time following her runner-up effort at the 2023 US Open. Her current ranking and rankings history can be seen on her WTA Tour profile page.
How much prize money has she won?
As of November 7, 2023, Sabalenka has won more than $20.38 million in prize money, in singles and doubles combined.
Who is her coach?
Sabalenka is now working with Anton Dubrov, her former hitting partner, after a trial in 2020 with Dieter Kindlmann, the former coach of Angelique Kerber, failed to work out. She previously worked with former Russian player Dmitry Tursunov and Sascha Bajin.
Does Aryna Sabalenka have a nickname?
Yes. The Warrior Princess, named, perhaps for her fearless, powerful game. And it seems she likes it.
What are her hobbies?
According to her profile on the WTA website, she likes pancakes, dogs and reading. Sabalenka’s favourite book is the Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas.
Is Aryna Sabalenka active on social media?
The Belarusian has more than 110,000 followers on her Twitter feed, where she mostly posts training posts but occasionally the odd more fun offering.