This month, the WTA Editorial team is profiling a selection of up-and-coming names to look out for in 2023.
If Linda Noskova ever needs a reminder of just how stunning her 2022 season was, all she has to do is look at her computer. Her wallpaper is a picture of her on court with two of the greatest players of all time, Serena and Venus Williams, during their US Open doubles match.
“Yeah, I have my wallpaper,” Noskova said. “It's going to stay there forever.”
That was just one of the highlights from Noskova's breakthrough season, where the 18-year-old teen moved from a sterling junior career to the professional tour, becoming one of the leaders of the Czechs' new wave of talent.
Noskova is now one of four teenagers from her country ranked inside the Top 200.
“Right now, I think I focus mostly on myself, and obviously on opponents all around the world," Noskova said. "But when I was a little bit younger and when we were competing against each other like every single week, it was so many matches, head to head.”
Of course, Noskova and her compatriots can look back on a bevy of Grand Slam champions and former World No.1 players to inspire them.
“I would say that tennis in our country is very popular thanks to them,” Noskova said. “There's a lot of tennis clubs, a lot of coaches, a lot of tennis players starting playing tennis from young ages.”
The excitement toward women’s tennis in the Czech Republic helped Noskova post her best result this season, where she reached her first Hologic WTA Tour semifinal, at the Livesport Prague Open.
In her country's capital, Noskova toppled Alizé Cornet in a third-set tiebreak in the second round before eventually succumbing to eventual champion and fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova.
“The atmosphere there was just incredible,” Noskova said. “I was really glad to see the fans all come around and just cheer for the Czech girls, because I hadn't experienced that.”
This season also marked Noskova’s first Grand Slam successes at the professional level. Coming into Roland Garros ranked No.185, Noskova won the first three Grand Slam qualifying matches of her career to make the main draw.
Then 17, Noskova became the youngest woman to make the Roland Garros main draw through the qualifying rounds in 13 years. She then pushed reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu to three sets in their opening-round clash.
“I always liked the French Open,” said Noskova, who won the Junior Roland Garros singles title just last year. “This year, it was just an amazing experience for me. And I was just really, really glad that I can just take a look at what really is [happening in] these Grand Slams.
"I was just really lucky to get into the main draw and play Emma Raducanu, which was really great as well.”
Noskova pulled off the same feat at the US Open, where she came through qualifying to make another Grand Slam main draw. Noskova is now 6-0 in Grand Slam qualifying matches.
“Everybody is just so excited [at Grand Slams], because it's just four times a year and everybody wants to have the greatest memories and the best results there,” Noskova said. “You just go there and you put on a great fight.
“Like with the French Open, it was just amazing to see the big arenas and you're like, ‘OK, no matter what happens, I have to play good!'”
At that same US Open, Noskova certainly played well in the aforementioned first-round doubles match. With three-time Grand Slam doubles champion Lucie Hradecka by her side on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Czech pair overcame the Williams sisters, winners of 14 Grand Slam women's doubles titles.
Just having the experience alongside all of these major winners on a massive court, especially in what will likely be the Williams sisters’ final doubles match as a pair, seems as important to Noskova than the victory itself, if not more.
4 years ago, Linda Nosková was in the stands watching @serenawilliams at @rolandgarros.— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) September 2, 2022
Today, the 17-year-old defeated her idol in the first round of doubles at the @usopen. pic.twitter.com/yaT6QevAu2
“A dream come true,” Noskova said. “Actually, I just wanted to have a picture with Serena or Venus before the tournament. Like, this might be my last chance to do that. But I really didn't expect to be on the greatest court, biggest court out there, along with these two legends.”
After starting the year ranked No.265, Noskova rose all the way up to a peak of No.87 before finishing the season just two spots outside the Top 100.
Noskova, who turned 18 in November, no longer has any restrictions on the amount of tournaments she can play and will attempt to climb even further in 2023.
“It's going to be my first year as an adult, so I can play as many tournaments as I want,” Noskova said. “There's no such thing as a limit now. … I think I'm just really looking forward to being all around the world.”