40 LOVE History: Canada's Golden Era
Published August 08, 2013 12:01
The Rogers Cup has been showcasing the best women's tennis players in the world since 1892 - only Wimbledon and the US Open have longer histories - and since the formation of the WTA, 40 years ago in 1973, Canadians themselves have had a wealth of success on the tour, particularly in the 1980s.
A total of five Canadians have won WTA titles in the past, and four of those came in a golden era for Canadian tennis between 1983 and 1988. Carling Bassett-Seguso was the first Canadian to win a WTA title, doing it in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1983. It was another three years before another Canadian achieved the feat, with Patricia Hy-Boulais winning the WTA event in Taipei on October 12, 1986 - and a week later on October 19, 1986, Helen Kelesi joined the club, conquering the WTA event in Tokyo. Jill Hetherington became the fourth Canadian to win a WTA title in Wellington, New Zealand in 1988.
Also during that era, Bassett-Seguso and Kelesi upped the ante by winning their second WTA titles, Bassett-Seguso at Strasbourg in 1987 and Kelesi at Taranto in 1988. And those two also became Canada's only two Top 20 players, Bassett-Seguso getting up to No.8 and Kelesi peaking at No.13.
It would be over 20 years before another Canadian won a WTA title and it was classy Québécoise Aleksandra Wozniak who did it, conquering the Premier-level event in Stanford in 2008 - she would almost become the third Canadian to crack the Top 20, too, going as high as No.21 during 2009.
Wozniak, Canada's No.1 player for the last several years and inside the Top 50 at the start of this year, has only played one tournament this year as she tries to recover from a right shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, Canada's future seems to be approaching fast - could Eugenie Bouchard be the next to join the list? The first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam title in singles - she won the Wimbledon juniors last year - Bouchard has rocketed up the rankings over the last year, going as high as No.55 just a few weeks ago and currently No.62. Sharon Fichman is also on the verge of her Top 100 debut.
With Wozniak hopefully returning soon and other talents emerging, Canadian tennis is in good hands.