In the first year of the tournament, Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova met in the final.
In 2015, a new season-ending event made its debut on the WTA calendar to replace the Tournament of Champions, which had included players who won one or more International-level tournaments but didn’t qualify for the WTA Championships.
The WTA Elite Trophy, held in Zhuhai, China, had a strong field for its first year, headlined by Venus Williams. The American battled through both of her matches in round-robin play, then breezed through her semifinal to reach the championship match.
In the final, she’d face Karolina Pliskova. The third-seeded Czech, enjoying a breakthrough campaign in 2015, also went undefeated in the group stage. She then eased through the semis to reach the biggest final of her career.
With games built around powerful groundstrokes and booming serves, Pliskova and Williams presented a near-mirror image in there playing style. Williams entered the match with a definitive edge in experience and raced to a 4-1 lead. However, the younger Pliskova managed to level the set at four games apiece. It wasn’t enough in the end as Williams managed to take the opener 7-5.
Perhaps buoyed by playing such a close first set, Pliskova got off to a strong start in the second, jumping out to a 4-2 lead. This time, it was Williams’ turn to rally and the set eventually went to a tiebreak. Pliskova appeared to regain the momentum there, going up 4-2 and earning a set point at 6-5. However, she failed to clinch it, hitting a forehand that just went wide. Williams then hit consecutive forehand winners to secure the match and the title, becoming the first player to win the WTA Elite Trophy.
This was Pliskova’s sixth final of the year, the most of any player on the WTA Tour.
After winning, Williams made her way back to the Top 10 for the first time since 2011, finishing the year at No. 7.
The last time Venus had won three titles in a season was 2008, when she also claimed her first and only title to date at the WTA Finals.
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