The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has named Greek player Maria Sakkari as the winner of this year’s Jerry Diamond ACES Award.
The award is given to players who are passionate ambassadors for the sport on and off the tennis court.
The Jerry Diamond ACES Award
The award is named after Jerry Diamond, a sports entrepreneur who helped pioneer women’s tennis. Diamond was the executive director of the women’s association from 1974 to 1985.
“It’s an honor for me to receive the Jerry Diamond ACES Award this year,” Sakkari wrote on Instagram. “Thank you, WTA, and everyone who has been following and supporting me this year! I can’t wait for the new season to start.”
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Sakkari joins previous winners of the award, including famous players such as Gabriela Sabatini, Ana Ivanović, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, and Martina Hingis.
After finishing this year, Sakkari has been ranked number six for women’s tennis. Although she did not qualify for the 2022 Grand Slam semi-finals, her performance on the court this past year was consistent, and she was ranked number three in October.
The Greek tennis player was born in Athens on July 25, 1995 and is twenty-seven years old. Tennis appears to run in the family. Her mother, Angeliki Kanellopoulou, was also a tennis player and competed during the WTA Tour, achieving a Top 50 singles ranking. Similarly, her grandfather, Dimitris Kanellopoulos was a tennis player, too.
Sakkari was first introduced to tennis by her parents at the age of six. From a young age, Sakkari idealized tennis players such as Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. Surprisingly, her mother did not want Sakkari or her siblings to play tennis.
“My mother didn’t want any of her children to play tennis,” Sakkari said during an interview in 2019. “She knew that you have to sacrifice a lot to play tennis. She didn’t want us to suffer.”
At the age of eighteen, she relocated to Barcelona to train more seriously. She prefers to play on hard and clay surfaces, and her favorite shot is the serve.
Sakkari is currently being coached by Tom Hill. Hill, from Redditch, England, trained at Nick Bollettieri’s IMG Academy as a teenager and played tennis at the collegiate level. He previously coached American player Danielle Collins.