Wimbledon girls’ champions – Where Are They Now?
Originally published on 03/07/16 00:00
While none of the last 10 girls' winners have gone on to lift the Venus Rosewater Trophy at SW19, many have enjoyed success at the All England Club and further afield. Agnieszka Radwanska (2012) and Eugenie Bouchard (2014) have gone on to become senior finalists at SW19.
2006 – Caroline Wozniacki
The popular Dane, 26, spent 15 months at world No.1 between October 2010 and January 2012 and has won 23 tour titles, but she is missing one vital element from her CV: a Grand Slam title. Flushing Meadows is likely to be the best place for Wozniacki to change that statistic, as she has twice reached the US Open final, losing to Kim Clijsters in 2009 and Serena Williams in 2014, and has also got to the semi-final on two other occasions. Despite winning the junior title, Wozniacki’s has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon.
2007 – Urszula Radwanska
Older sister Agnieszka’s 2005 triumph in the Wimbledon girls’ singles proved to be a very effective springboard for success, but things haven’t worked out in the same way for Urszula. She is yet to win a WTA singles title, despite reaching finals in s’Hertogenbosch in 2012 and Istanbul in 2015, but she did win a doubles title with Agnieszka in Istanbul in 2007. Her current position of world No.149 is a long way from her career-high of 29 and she has never gone beyond the second round of a Grand Slam. As a junior, Urszula Radwanska beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Madison Brengle en route to her Wimbledon win, and lost in the semi-final the previous year to Wozniacki. In 2007, she also reached the final of the US Open girls' singles and won the girls’ doubles at Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open.
2008 – Laura Robson
Laura Robson burst onto the scene when she won the Wimbledon girls’ singles title aged just 14. She almost won another junior Grand Slam title in 2010 when she lost in the Australian Open final to Karolina Pliskova. Three years after her junior triumph, Robson beat Angelique Kerber to win her first senior singles match at Wimbledon, and in 2013 she reached the fourth round. The highlight of Robson’s career so far came when she beat former Grand Slam champions Li Na and Kim Clijsters on her way to the US Open fourth round in 2012. But her promising career was interrupted when she suffered a wrist injury in late 2013 and then aggravated it by playing at the 2014 Australian Open. Consequently, she missed almost 18 months of tennis, and is yet to find any kind of form since her return. She is currently the world No.283.
2009 – Noppawan Lertcheewakarn
After finishing runner-up to Robson in 2008, Lertcheewakarn returned to claim the 2009 girls’ singles title by beating Kristina Mladenovic in the final. However, so far in her senior career she has only made it past the first round in the main draw of a WTA tour event on two occasions and has only reached the main draw of a Grand Slam once – at Wimbledon in 2010.
2010 – Kristyna Pliskova
Kristyna Pliskova is another player who has struggled to translate junior success into good results on the professional circuit. Her best performance at any WTA tournament came at Wimbledon in 2015 when she reached the third round, so her girls’ singles title remains the highlight of her career to date. Kristyna has won three WTA doubles titles – in Bad Gastein, Hong Kong and Linz – with twin sister Karolina.
2011 – Ashleigh Barty
Barty won the girls’ singles title aged 15 and reached a career-high ranking of world No.129 in 2013. Then she stunned Australian fans by quitting tennis after the 2014 US Open. Speaking to the WTA website earlier this year, she said: "I love the sport of tennis, but it became robotic for me and that's not what I wanted. I lost the enjoyment and I think deep down I knew if I kept trying to drive on through it, it would drive me away completely." She took up cricket instead, and earned a Women’s Big Bash League contract with the Brisbane Heat after impressing in club games. But the lure of tennis eventually proved too great to resist, and Barty returned in February 2016. She then produced arguably the best tennis of her professional career to reach the quarter-finals in Nottingham in June. In partnership with Casey Dellacqua, Barty has won two WTA doubles titles and reached four other finals.
2012 – Eugenie Bouchard
Bouchard came very close to winning the Wimbledon ladies’ singles during her incredible breakthrough season in 2014, but she was completely outclassed in the final as she lost 6-3 6-0 to Petra Kvitova. That year, the Canadian also reached the semi-final of the Australian Open and the French Open, got to the fourth round of the US Open, won her only WTA title to date in Nuremburg and achieved a career-high world ranking of No.5. Bouchard made a promising start to 2015, reaching the Australian Open quarter-final, but she seemed to lose all her confidence after that as she only won eight of the 25 singles matches she played in the rest of the year. Consequently, she ended the year at world No.49, but has begun to show signs of a return to form at Wimbledon, beating No.16 seed Johanna Konta in the second round.
2013 – Belinda Bencic
Bencic’s confidence was sky-high going into the girls’ singles at Wimbledon in 2013. She had won the junior French Open title three weeks earlier and was hoping to extend a 29-match winning streak. She then beat three other promising youngsters, Anett Kontaveit, Louisa Chirico and Taylor Townsend on her way to the title. The following year, a then 17-year-old Bencic beat Kerber and Jelena Jankovic on her way to the US Open quarter-final and won Premier titles in Eastbourne and Toronto in impressive style in 2015. In her two Wimbledon appearances since turning professional, she lost to Simona Halep in the third round in 2014 and to Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round in 2015. The SW19 crowds are likely to see plenty more of the talented Swiss in the second week in future years.
2014 – Jelena Ostapenko
This talented Latvian is still only 19 but she has already made an impression on the professional circuit. She reached the final of the Qatar Total Open in Doha in February 2016, beating former Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova on the way before losing to Carla Suarez Navarro. She then reached the semi-final in Katowice in April, before beating Kvitova at the Aegon Classic before losing a tight three-set quarter-final to eventual champion Madison Keys. In 2015, Ostapenko reached the second round at Wimbledon (where she beat Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-2 6-0 in the first round) and the US Open, and she will be confident of going much further in Grand Slam tournaments in the future.
2015 – Sofya Zhuk
Zhuk, 16, is still a junior, but she is certainly ambitious. In her ITF Juniors blog, she said, "I want to win the ladies' title at Wimbledon one day – that’s the goal." If the Russian achieves that aim, she could conceivably be the only player on this list to win a Grand Slam, as none of the others have done it yet.