2006 WTA Tour - Summary


Shortly before the beginning of the season, former No. 1 Martina Hingis announced that she would return full-time to the tour for the 2006 season, having already made an unsuccessful comeback attempt at an event in 2005. She returned at a smaller tournament in Gold Coast.

Amélie Mauresmo won her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open after years of questions about her nerves and mental capabilities. However, her victory was marred by Henin-Hardenne's controversial retirement in the final due to stomach cramps. Defending champion Serena Williams lost in the third round to Daniela Hantuchová, with some commenting on the "extra weight" that she was carrying. The loss was the beginning of a season of injury struggles for the American, which saw her at one point drop out of the top 100. In the doubles tournament, Yan Zi and Zheng Jie produced a historic win for Chinese tennis by becoming the first players to win a Grand Slam of any kind for the nation. Martina Hingis won her first mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi.

Following the Australian Open, Kim Clijsters ascended to the No. 1 position after Lindsay Davenport lost her finalist points. She held it until March, when she lost her Indian Wells champion points, allowing Mauresmo to return to the position, who held it until the end of the season. Mauresmo continued her strong start to the season with titles in Paris and Antwerp. Elena Dementieva won her biggest career title to that point in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Henin-Hardenne and Nadia Petrova won the Middle Eastern events in Dubai and Doha.

Maria Sharapova picked up her first title of the season Indian Wells, beating Dementieva in the final. Svetlana Kuznetsova then won in Miami, her first Tier I title and second biggest overall, after a struggling 2005 season which saw her drop out of the top 10 as she failed to back up her breakthrough in 2004.

The clay court season saw Hingis win in Rome for the biggest title of her comeback, but overall it was dominated by Nadia Petrova, who went on an impressive 15-match winning streak, leading to titles in Amelia Island, Charleston and Berlin, beating Henin-Hardenne in the final of the latter. Her streak led to her being considered the favourite for the French Open title, but she suffered an injury and thus bowed out in the first round. Henin-Hardenne eventually defended her title, her fifth Grand Slam, beating Kuznetsova in the final. Czech teenager Nicole Vaidišová reached her first Grand Slam semifinal with victories over Amélie Mauresmo and Venus Williams. The doubles event was won by Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur, while Katarina Srebotnik took home the mixed doubles trophy, with Nenad Zimonjić.

The third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon saw all top four seeds reach the semifinals for only the fifth time in 25 years. Mauresmo and Henin advanced to the final, a rematch of their Australian Open final earlier in the season, with Mauresmo triumphant once more, becoming the first Frenchwoman in 81 years to win Wimbledon. Defending champion Venus Williams fell to Jelena Janković, making this year the first since 1999 neither Williams sister featured in the Wimbledon women's singles final. Williams did, however, make the mixed doubles final, losing to Vera Zvonareva who won her second Grand Slam in mixed doubles, partnering with Bob Bryan. Yan Zi and Zheng Jie also won their second Grand Slam titles in the women's doubles event.

Serena Williams, Mary Pierce, Lindsay Davenport and Nadia Petrova all returned during the summer hardcourt season, after sitting out with injury. Clijsters won her fourth Stanford title, before losing to Sharapova in the final of San Diego—the Russian's first ever victory over Clijsters. Dementieva won the title in Los Angeles, beating Janković in the final. Janković's compatriot Ana Ivanovic went one further the next week in Montréal, by winning the event over Hingis, and became the U.S. Open Series champion for that year. Sharapova eventually picked up the grand prize, taking the U.S. Open title over Henin-Hardenne in the final. Janković backed up her strong result in Los Angeles with her first Grand Slam semifinal. In the doubles tournament, Nathalie Dechy and Vera Zvonareva won the title in only their fourth tournament as a team. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova won the mixed doubles title and then announced her retirement from professional tennis.

Sharapova continued her strong results following her U.S. Open title in the fall season, winning events in Zurich and Linz. Nadia Petrova won her fifth title of the season in Stuttgart, but lost to the Russian teenager Anna Chakvetadze in the Moscow final. Kuznetsova also enjoyed a successful fall, winning titles in Bali and Beijing, beating Mauresmo in the final of the latter. Kim Clijsters returned at the end of the season, having missed her title defence at the U.S. Open, and won the smaller event in Hasselt.

The season climaxed at the WTA Tour Championships, with Mauresmo, Sharapova, Henin-Hardenne, Kuznetsova, Petrova, Clijsters, Dementieva and Hingis all qualifying for the event. The tournament saw a three-way battle for the No. 1 position between Mauresmo, Sharapova and Henin-Hardenne, which was eventually decided when Henin-Hardenne beat Sharapova in the semifinal. She went on to beat Mauresmo in the final. In the doubles event, French Open champions Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur triumphed, consolidating their position as the year-end No. 1 in women's doubles.

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