For Katie Boulter, 2023 is unlike any other year, because she was able to accomplish some significant milestones in her career.
Four years ago Boulter suffered a stress fracture in her back that hindered her development and transition to the main tour. She fell outside the world's Top 100 and struggled for quite a few years to get back in due to recurrent injuries and inconsistent form.
But during this year's grass-court swing, Boutler re-established her presence in the world's Top 100 again. Having bagged a W60 ITF tournament in Canberra, Australia, at the turn of the year, Boulter finished a runner-up in two more ITF tournaments in Japan in May.
When she returned to the UK to compete on the lawns, she was among a handful of British women looking to replace injury-stricken Emma Raducanu as the country's best player. Boulter was one of the standout performers at the W100 tournament in Surbiton.
She reached the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Yanina Wickmayer. Boulter left South West London as the new British No. 1. And despite the loss, that result served as a catalyst in steering the Leicester native to her maiden WTA title in Nottingham just a week later.
Boulter defeated fellow Brit Jodie Burrage in the first all-British WTA final since 1977 and preserved her status as Great Britain's top-ranked woman. She has since risen to as high as World No. 50 in recent weeks, having reached the third round of Wimbledon and US Open during the season. Speaking to Sky Sports, the 27-year-old is delighted her shift is paying off at last.
"I think I had a little bit of a perspective shift a couple of years ago, especially last year. I feel very humble to be in this position. To be here, to have worked so hard and to finally have things go my way and to feel as though I'm making some headway, all the work that I'm putting in is actually paying off."
"That for me, if anything, is more of a motivator going into next year. I'm super excited! I feel like I've done a lot but we also have a lot more to do and that for me is what keeps me going every single day when I'm training."
Boulter is an integral member of Great Britain's Billie Jean King Cup squad for next week's play-off tie against Sweden in London in the absence of Emma Raducanu. She highlights the importance of working with a psychologist as part of the scheme offered by the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) as revitalizing her thinking.
"I worked with a psychologist [because] I had a couple of things which happened to me off the court which completely changed my thinking and the way I saw tennis as an important. I love playing tennis but at the same time you've got to have a smile on your face, you've got to be out there, and also remember there are more important things in life. That was something that was big for me."