Timea Bacsinszky enjoyed a sparkling junior career, winning a string of prestigious tournaments and reaching the semifinals at three of the four Grand Slams. But following a bright start in the professional ranks, she grew so disillusioned with a series of injury setbacks that her tennis dreams were temporarily parked in favor of a career in hotel management.
While it was a change in direction that ultimately was never going to satisfy her thirst for competition, it did provide a newfound sense of perspective on both life and tennis. When she did eventually get back on court, this introspection worked wonders, the Swiss registering 115 wins, a couple of titles and rising, briefly, into the Top 10.
A blistering start to 2015 saw Bacsinszky triumph in 21 of her first 23 matches, collecting titles in Acapulco and Monterrey. Semi and quarterfinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, respectively, proved her success was not confined to the smaller events. Despite losing her way in the second half of the summer, she rounded off the year with a runner-up finish in Beijing, underlining her worthiness as the winner of this year's WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year.
"To breakthrough into the Top 10, to be honest, it's something I never even dreamed of - I never thought that would be possible for me," Bacsinszky said. "But when you don't set yourself any limits, you push yourself and sometimes some great things are happening.
"I'm super proud of all I've achieved. I wouldn't have been able to do it without my team, especially my coach [Dimitri Zavialoff]. He is the one who lifted me up two years ago and got me to play again. I will definitely still push myself in the future and see my limits."
Bacsinsky joins a select group to have won the award. Among their number are 10 WTA No.1's: Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina.
The WTA Awards are voted for by a combination of media and fans.