Only 17 players who remain active on the WTA Tour know the feeling of winning a Grand Slam singles title. That’s a pretty small sample, an extraordinarily exclusive club. And yet, four of these five players had losing records at the majors, and the collective mark was 15-17.

But as the familiar axiom goes: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

Here is a look at a handful of decorated Grand Slam-winning players looking for a bounce back in 2023 with some expert analysis from 18-time major winner Martina Navratilova. 

Sofia Kenin

Grand Slam title: 2020 Australian Open

2021 Year-End Ranking: 12

2022 Year-End Ranking: 152

Age at last major title: 21

Age now: 24

In 2020, Kenin reached two major finals, in Melbourne and Paris.

She has struggled since, with a series of injuries and team turnover. After going 11-10 in 2021, she followed it with a 5-8 record the following year. Kenin missed nearly five months with a right foot/ankle injury that required a cast. Kenin played only eight matches in a span of seven months -- and lost them all.

“Keeping a positive mindset and focusing on the bigger picture was super important to me during this time,” Kenin said of her long rehabilitation effort, “and it still is as I continue to get better on and off the court.”

The last two tournaments of 2022 were an ITF $80,000 in Tyler, Texas (she lost in the semifinals) and the WTA 125 in Midland, Michigan, where she fell in the quarterfinals. Kenin is playing January’s Australian Open under a protected ranking.

Navratilova’s take: Once, when I was playing doubles I just didn’t have confidence in my out-wide serve in the deuce court. And then, Chris Evert and I were doing commentary on a match that we played and I went, 'Oh, my God -- I did have that serve.' So I just needed to remember that I had that -- I had totally forgotten. That’s what Sofia needs to do. Remember that you have the tools to win a major tournament. I would go at it from that angle.

Barbora Krejcikova

Grand Slam title: 2021 Roland Garros

2021 Year-End Ranking: 5

2022 Year-End Ranking: 21

Age at last major title: 25

Age now: 27

The good news? Krejcikova won all three of the major doubles she contested with Katerina Siniakova. The not-so-great news: Krejcikova’s singles efforts weren’t quite as productive.

To be fair, she’s the only player on this list ranked in the Top 25. Krejcikova’s spectacular 2021 season (she was 44-18) was followed by a still-worthy 25-15 record, which included two titles. The second one, in Ostrava, featured a memorable finals victory over No.1-ranked Iga Swiatek -- one of the best matches of the year.

An elbow injury, which knocked Krejcikova off the court for three months, was the primary culprit.

“It was difficult because I think the beginning of the season was great," Krejcikova said after the three-hour-plus final against Swiatek. “It was the middle of the season, and I was trying to find my form. I’m just happy that I found it and I’m back right now.”

Navratilova’s take: I mean, it all came down to that elbow injury. She struggled with that. Reaching the WTA Finals in doubles, winning a few tournaments in the fall -- beating Iga Swiatek in the Ostrava final -- I think she’ll be OK for 2023. For her, health is the biggest issue more than anything else.

Barbora Krejcikova has made the quarterfinals or better in three of her last five main draw appearances.

Photo by WTA/Jimmie48

Garbiñe Muguruza

Grand Slam titles: 2016 Roland Garros, 2017 Wimbledon

2021 Year-End Ranking: 3

2022 Year-End Ranking: 56

Age at last major title: 23

Age now: 29

Hard to believe, but Muguruza is scheduled to play in the qualifying draw when the new season gets underway in Adelaide.

She was one of the great storylines of 2021, winning titles in Doha and Dubai in February and March, then closing with a flourish by winning the Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara. The former World No.1 got back to No.3 and seemed poised to continue that renaissance in 2022.

Instead, Muguruza lost 17 of 29 matches. Her 41.1 winning percentage was the lowest of her career. She went 3-4 in the major tournaments.

The champion at the All England Club only five years earlier, Muguruza made 33 unforced errors in losing a first-round match at Wimbledon to Greet Minnen.

“These last six months have been very hard,” Muguruza wrote later in a social media post. “Dealing with defeats, frustration and pressure. Competing in RG and Wimbledon, tournaments that I love, with all the preparation and effort that my whole team has made, not finding my tennis has been emotionally, a very hard blow.”

Toward the end of the year, she admitted “it’s been a tough season, a little bit of a roller coaster. Definitely this year I feel that I haven’t played that many matches so obviously when the important moments come, you really feel that confidence that is not quite there yet.

“I think also trying and trying and trying, at some point I will get rewarded.”

Navratilova’s take: When she won the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, I picked her to win a major the next year. I’ll tell you what, I would watch video of when she won, the 2017 Wimbledon final. To see if I see something. Watch what you did and remember how it felt when you won. Zero in on what’s a weakness -- and work on that. Or zero in on a strength -- and make it stronger -- to give you that confidence that this shot is going to hold up. Mechanics can sometimes take the nerves out of play.

Naomi Osaka

Grand Slam titles: 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open, 2020 US Open, 2021 Australian Open

2021 Year-End Ranking: 13

2022 Year-End Ranking: 42

Age at last major title: 23

Age now: 25

After four consecutive years with a major title, Osaka came up short in 2022. Remarkably, the Japanese athlete who entered the year with a record of 59-18 in the majors went 2-3 at the Grand Slams, with both victories coming in Melbourne.

The overall record was 14-9 with injuries playing a role.

“I think this year’s really funny for me just in regards to last year,” Osaka said at the US Open. “I’ve had way more niggles than I’ve had before in my career.

 “I would say it’s something that’s very frustrating, but at the same time, interesting, because it made me feel like, ‘Wow, I really want to be able to play again like back how I used to.’” 

She’ll have that opportunity in less than a month in Melbourne, where she’s won two of the past four Australian Opens.

Navratilova’s take: OK, she just needs to play. She played something like 11 tournaments all year, only eight outside of the majors. That’s an anomaly. For every major, you should play at least five tournaments, that’s a good ratio. For me, it was like 10. You can’t talk yourself into winning -- you just have to go out and do it.

Naomi Osaka

Photo by Jimmie48/WTA

Emma Raducanu

Grand Slam title: 2021 US Open

2021 Year-End Ranking: 19

2022 Year-End Ranking: 75

Age at last major title: 19

Age now: 20

Raducanu was the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title -- and she was only 18 years old. Many casual tennis fans don’t realize that 2022 was Raducanu’s first full season on the WTA Tour. She didn’t leave her teenage years behind until one month ago.

Small wonder she was looking forward to a “clean slate” after attempting to defend her title at the US Open.

“It has been a tough year,” she said. “I’ve definitely gone through and experienced a lot of challenges. To be fair, I’ve learned a lot from all of it. I think it’s going to be nice once the US Open is finished and [I can] carry on from there.”

Raducanu lost to Alize Cornet in the first round and would finish the season with a 17-19 record. She’s parted ways with Dmitry Tursunov, her third different coach since that US Open triumph.

Fitness was a continuing issue, as Raducanu retired from four matches. During the offseason, Raducanu has been training with fitness guru Jez Green, who had previously worked with Andy Murray.

Navratilova’s take: For me, it really seems that fitness is an issue. That’s why she’s been getting injured and unable to play as much as she’d like. She’s old enough now -- old enough to own her life, her career, her tennis -- take responsibility for herself. Most people don’t have to do that until they get out of college, but she’s close to that age. That will lead to the confidence to come through in matches.