Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka is a Belarusian professional tennis player and one of a few players who reached the pinnacle by becoming world no. 1.

Date of Birth: 5 May 1998
Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus
Residence: Miami, Florida, United States
Height: 5'11" (182 cm)
Weight: 176 lbs (80 kg)
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Turned Pro: 2016

Aryna Siarhiejeŭna Sabalenka was born on May 5, 1998, in Minsk, Belarus, and the fact that she ended up playing tennis was quite a coincidence. Coming from Belarus, where ice hockey is one of the most popular sports, it's not a surprise that Sabalenka's father, Sergey, was an ice hockey player.

Once, when they were driving in a car, Sabalenka saw tennis courts, and that's how she started playing the sport. In 2014, she started practicing at the National Tennis Academy in Minsk and she started playing in junior categories quite late, as the Belarusian Tennis Federation advised her to play low-level professional events instead.

Therefore, the Belarusian had one of the lowest career-high rankings in her junior career out of all the players that later went on to become world no. 1s, as Sabalenka's highest ranking was no. 225, and she never played any junior Grand Slam.

After her junior career, Sabalenka's progress on the WTA Tour was also quite slow. In 2017, she played her first main draw match at the Dubai Championships, and she won her first tour-level match at Wimbledon later that year.

Despite finishing the 2018 and 2019 seasons as world no. 11, it was mostly due to Sabalenka's performance at lower-tier events and the fact that she won a WTA 1000 tournament, Wuhan Open, in both years.

In those seasons, Sabalenka also played in doubles, and her short doubles career was quite successful. She reached the world no. 1 spot in 2021 after winning her second doubles Grand Slam title when she followed the 2019 US Open triumph with the 2021 Australian Open win. During her successful doubles campaigns, Sabalenka played with Elise Mertens from Belgium.

And after the Belarusian ended her doubles career on a Grand Slam level with a 2021 Australian Open triumph, a singles success followed. She reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and US Open in 2021 and finished the year as world no. 2.

Despite some minor struggles with form in 2022, mostly on her serve, due to which she produced the most double faults out of all players, she returned to top form in 2023, saying that she worked with a biomechanics coach to fix her serve.

That yielded great results as Sabalenka won her maiden Grand Slam, beating Elena Rybakina in the 2023 Australian Open final, and thanks to reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and the final at the US Open, she became a new world no. 1, dethroning Iga Swiatek who occupied the spot for 75 weeks.

In 2024, the Belarusian player further improved as a player, which showed at the 2024 Australian Open, which she won without losing a set to win her second career major, and become the first woman to defend the title in Melbourne in over a decade.

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