Revealed: The extraordinary transformation in the WTA rankings since Miami 2021

The WTA top ten from the week following the Miami Open last year shows just how tough sustainable success is in women's tennis.

They say a year is a long time in sport, but that is doubly true when it comes to the wacky world of women's tennis.

While the ATP has largely become predictable with just a handful of players dominating for more than a decade, the WTA is arguably the most unpredictable elite sports competition in the world.

If you still need convincing, we looked at the WTA top ten after the Miami Open last year and, on the eve of the same tournament this season, see where the same players are ranked today.

#1 Ash Barty - Retired

If truth be told, it was becoming very difficult to see anyone but Barty, with the possible exception of Naomi Osaka, removing herself from this position in the rankings.

Since April 2021, Barty has won both Wimbledon and the Australian Open and, in doing so, has achieved her two main career goals.

That has paved the way for her to walk away from tennis, although just how long that lasts is anyone's guess. She has retired before, remember, and the smart money says tennis hasn't seen the last of Ash Barty.

#2 Naomi Osaka - World number 77

Naomi Osaka was knocked out in the third round of the Australian Open

Back in April 2021, Naomi Osaka was pretty much leading the way in the WTA. She hadn't quite reigned in Barty in the rankings, although that was largely due to points protected by the temporary Covid measures.

Osaka had won the last two Grand Slams - the US Open and the Australian Open - and her profile had never been higher.

Mental struggles were bubbling beneath the surface, though, with anxiety taking a hold and forcing her to take some time away from tennis. She is back now, but not looking at all up to speed yet.

#3 Simona Halep - World number 19

Simona Halep in action at the US Open

At 30 years old, Simona Halep must feel like a veritable veteran on the WTA Tour these days, but when fit and firing she is still just as good as anyone else on Tour.

She is another player who has endured a very difficult year, with niggly injuries stopping her from gathering any real momentum.

She has managed to hold onto some semblance of ranking, though, which makes a huge difference as being seeded in tournaments make deep runs a lot easier.

#4 Sofia Kenin - World number 127

Sofia Kenin looks on

Back in the Covid-interrupted 2020 season, Sofia Kenin looked like she had genuinely arrived at the top of the WTA.

The Russian-born American had won the Australian Open at the start of the year and reached the final of the delayed French Open in October.

In 2021 though, a bout of appendicitis saw her forced to withdraw from numerous tournaments, and that seemed to provoke an absolute nosedive in her performance levels. At Wimbledon last year she set a new unwanted record of committing 41 unforced errors in just 45 minutes of tennis.

Things have not got any better for her in 2022 either, and she is now facing the very real possibility of requiring a wild card to avoid having to qualify for the upcoming French Open.

#5 Elina Svitolina - World number 20

Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in action

Like Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina has seen her fortunes decline slightly but not enough to spiral out of control yet.

She won an Olympics bronze medal in 2021 and a 16th WTA Tour crown in Chicago, but a muscle injury impacted her practice and sooner or later that's going to catch up with you.

As a result, she struggled at the end of the season and has started 2022 in very poor form, so while Svitolina is still in a good position to turn things around, things could get away from her very easily.

#6 Biana Andreescu - World number 44

Bianca Andreescu

When Bianca Andreescu won the 2019 US Open as a teenager, the WTA thought they had a new superstar on their hands. That hype was fully justified too.

In many ways, it's actually surprising to see her still as high up the rankings as she is. She has played just 16 tournaments in the two and a half years since her US Open triumph.

That is mainly due to a persistent knee injury, and once she fully recovers from that you'd expect her to get herself back among it in the top ten, but that's still looking some way off at the moment.

#7 Aryna Sabalenka - World number 5

Aryna Sabalenka ( BLR) during her second round at the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, AUSTRALIA, on January 20, 2022.

Finally some normality! Big-hitting Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka has been a rare picture of consistency in the WTA rankings in the last couple of years.

Interestingly, though, unlike all but Svitolina above her, she is still awaiting her first Garnd Slam title.

Perhaps, then, there is something to be said of the theory that chasing a dream is much more motivating than trying to repeat it.

#8 Serena Williams - World number 240

Serena Williams dejected

It still feels bizarre to see Serena Williams with such a lowly world ranking, but the reality is that she is all but semi-retired now.

No one can begrudge her that, of course. Serena is 40 years old and has a daughter she wants to spend her time with, and there isn't a tournament on the planet that is going to deny her a wildcard.

Injuries have played their part in her rankings decline too, as has a very cautious approach to Covid-19.

She is unlikely to ever play enough tournaments again to regain her ranking, but she will always be Serena.

#9 Karolina Pliskova - World number 8

Karolina Pliskova will miss the 2022 Australian Open after suffering a hand injury

Karolina Pliskova has been around the top ten for seven years now, and it's very hard to imagine it without her.

At 30 years old she is not the force she once was, although she has played a Wimbledon final as recently as 2021.

Again, though, like Sabalenka, Pliskova is yet to win a major. That is crazy in itself given the quality she has shown over such a sustained period of time, and you wonder how much that unfulfilled desire is sustaining her.

#10 Kiki Bertens - Retired

Kiki Bertens adjusts her headband

Bertens was never really what you would call a force in women's tennis, but she was a very talented player who nobody wanted to play.

Her 10 career titles were a solid return on her talent, although she never really got close to winning a Grand Slam.

In the summer of 2021, the then-29-year-old Bertens announced the season would be her last and cited the enforced break for Covid as a key reason.

"If Covid didn't come maybe I could continue for two to three more years, I have no idea," she explained. "But when you're in the rhythm of doing something, it's easy for me and I can just keep on going, no matter how long.

"That's why I could play 30 tournaments a year and go in week and week out and play singles and doubles and everything.

"But once you step away, your body has to get used to it again, it makes it tough. Now I enjoy home so much, so why do I have to go out there and struggle, struggle with my fitness level, of the injury and how I feel on court, if I could also be home and enjoying my time. It's just time for a new chapter and I'm looking forward to that."

READ MORE: Five tennis stars who, like Ashleigh Barty, retired far too early

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