The WTA and ATP seasons are officially over, and what a year it was on and off the court. With record-setting moments (hello, Novak Djokovic!), maiden major victories and new stars cementing themselves at the top of the game, 2023 was one to remember.
But in a season brimming with memorable moments and achievements, who reigned supreme?
Which players had the biggest breakthroughs? Who left it all out there? We look at all those players as we choose our top honours of the tennis season.
Men’s player of the year: Novak Djokovic
There is no debate to be had here. At age 36, and several years (or 16) older than most of his current rivals, Djokovic reached the final at all four majors, winning all but Wimbledon, and ended the year with yet another trophy at the ATP Finals.
He earned seven titles overall and reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking.
With his victory at the US Open in September, he tied Margaret Court for the all-time record of 24 for the most major singles titles in history.
After losing to Carlos Alcaraz at the All England Club, and leaving some to wonder if his grip atop the sport was slipping, Djokovic quelled all of the doubters and didn’t lose again for five months.
And he continued to break more records, securing the year-end No. 1 for the eighth season, earning his seventh Paris Masters title earlier this month for his 40th 1000-level crown, and breaking a tie with Roger Federer for the most ATP Finals titles, with seven.
Djokovic didn’t just make his case for the Player of the Year in 2023, he made it for the best player period.
Women’s player of the year: Iga Swiatek
Leading into the WTA Finals, Aryna Sabalenka might have held the edge for this category but then, well, Iga did Iga things.
In Cancun, against the best players in the world, Swiatek was unstoppable: She never dropped a set, and she lost only a combined 20 games in all five of her matches.
She recorded bagel sets over the reigning champions of the US Open (Coco Gauff) and Wimbledon (Marketa Vondrousova) and against Jessica Pegula in the final.
With the title — her first at the year-end event — she took back the world No. 1 ranking after an eight-week hiatus.
And that might be what’s most impressive of all.
In the eyes of many, Swiatek had a “down” year after winning two majors in 2022, and Sabalenka undoubtedly had the best year of her career.
And yet, Swiatek still ended up with the best resume for the season on tour.
She won a tour-leading six titles, including her third at the French Open, and her 68 match wins were more than anyone else as well.
The 22-year-old Swiatek also played in the most finals and earned the most in prize money. She is now the year-end top-ranked player for the second straight season.
While a handful of players found a way to compete against her, on their best days anyway, Swiatek still remains the best there is in women’s tennis.
Breakthrough players of the year: Coco Gauff and Ben Shelton
Let’s preface this by saying there are multiple definitions for what a “breakthrough” is in professional tennis.
But regardless of the various interpretations one could have, it would be impossible to argue that Gauff and Shelton didn’t have the biggest years of their (very young) careers, and made a serious statement about their respective places in the sport.
Gauff (19) has been seen as the future of tennis since her star-making turn at Wimbledon in 2019 — and made herself firmly a superstar of the present this year.
After a devastating first-round loss at Wimbledon, Gauff regrouped with her new team and became all but unbeatable on the hardcourt.
She went 18-1, as she won the titles at the Citi Open and the Cincinnati Open, before heading to New York and earning the first major title of her career at the US Open.
Gauff ends the season at a career-high ranking of No. 3 and will undoubtedly look to build on her success in 2024.
Playing in his first full season on tour, Shelton made it a year to remember.
He reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, in just his second Grand Slam appearance, and skyrocketed in the rankings.
He was unable to immediately replicate the same success at the French Open or Wimbledon, or at the other tour events, but got back on track — and then some — in New York.
Shelton, now 21, enamoured the world with his powerful serve and youthful enthusiasm, reaching the US Open semifinals.
He then won the first ATP title of his career in Tokyo in October, and reached a new career high ranking of No. 15.
Comeback player of the year: Elina Svitolina
There are comebacks, and then there’s what Svitolina did this season.
After missing just over a year on tour for maternity leave, the 29-year-old returned to competition in April — less than six months after giving birth to daughter Skai — and wasted no time in returning to her peak form.
She won the title in Strasbourg in May, then went on to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open, and the semifinals at Wimbledon — matching her best-ever result at the tournament and at a major.
While her hardcourt season wasn’t quite as fruitful, Svitolina saw her ranking rise to a season high of 24 and she ends the season at No. 25 — not too shabby for someone who was ranked No. 1344 in April.
Best moment: Christopher Eubanks
It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize Eubanks’ magical performance at Wimbledon but we just know it has to be commemorated here.
Entering Mallorca, the last grass lead-in event ahead of Wimbledon, Eubanks was ranked No. 77 and had never won an ATP title, never played in the main draw at the All England Club and never advanced past the second round at a major.
That all changed dramatically in the span of three weeks.
The 27-year-old Eubanks won the title at Mallorca, then went on to have one of the most memorable runs in recent history at a Grand Slam.
He reached the quarterfinals — thanks to upsets over local favourite Cameron Norrie and the No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas — and won over fans on the grounds and around the world with his determination and on-court joy.
He ultimately lost to Daniil Medvedev in the quarters, but he left London with a new career-high ranking that continued to climb in the following weeks.
The rest of the year wasn’t quite as successful, but Eubanks ended the year at No. 34, and he will enter 2024 knowing exactly what he’s capable of. — ESPN