Caroline's fruits of labour
WTA Finals stars shine in Melbourne and prove why hard work and belief will pay off
With the world watching, tennis once again served up an incredible fortnight in Melbourne.
Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep, this year's women's singles finalists at the Australian Open, had more than just the WTA World No. 1 ranking to play for.
Victory in Melbourne held even greater significance as it would be the prized first Grand Slam title for either of them.
Gracing the trophy ceremony in celebration of the 50th anniversary of her Australian Open title was Billie Jean King, WTA founder and trailblazer.
The final lived up to the occasion, representing the spirit that the great Billie Jean King embodies - it was an outstanding showcase of how persistence, hard work and belief really do pay off.
It was a match for the ages.
After the biggest title of her career last October at last year's BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, followed by her engagement to former NBA champion David Lee, one would have expected that Caroline had the wind in her sails.
She reached her first Grand Slam final nine years ago and made her second and last appearance on that stage in 2014.
She spent 67 weeks as WTA world No.1, and almost six years to the day she vacated that position, she regained the top spot with her win in Melbourne Park.
I’ve already been the world No. 1... now I’ve finally won a Grand Slam title... it’s something really special.” – Caroline Wozniacki, on winning her first Grand Slam title and returning to world No. 1
The match was an incredibly hard-fought three-set battle under tough conditions, with the temperature at over 30 deg C mixed in with oppressive humidity. It was an epic fight, the thrilling twists and turns providing gripping theatre.
Having finished runner-up at a Grand Slam twice, the third time was the charm for Wozniacki, who finally won a Major.
Already an inspiration to millions of young girls in Denmark and around the world, this achievement will only help solidify the Dane's position as one of the sport's role models.
When asked after the match what she thought was the difference this time, the 27-year-old said: "Continuing to focus on improving at all times, trying to be better, getting more experience, and really believing in your abilities.
"I hope this inspires other young girls and boys to believe in themselves."
Understandably disappointed, Halep's tears then turned to smiles, as the Romanian stood on stage for the prizegiving ceremony, gracious in defeat .
Halep, 26, left everything she had out on the court and proved that she is a tough competitor who has the potential to lift one of these trophies in future.
Her time, too, will come.
She said: "I fight and have many years to go, so hopefully I will face another challenge like today."
Both of these remarkable women are wonderful role models for aspiring youngsters .
Seeing King present the trophy to Wozniacki, with the young ball girl beside them looking on, was a poignant moment, bringing together the past, present, and future of women's tennis, and exemplifying that we all stand on the shoulders of those before us.
I was incredibly proud of the sport that I hold so closely to my heart. As both players currently sit atop the 2018 Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard, we look forward to more incredible moments each lap will bring as the players compete for a spot to play at the Indoor Stadium in Kallang in October.
Melissa Pine is the vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific and the tournament director of theBNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. She is also a former NCAA player at Washington State University and served as assistant coach of the team post-graduation. To find out more about the WTA Finals, visit www.wtafinals.com