The 2018 season on the WTA Tour was wilder than ever. While Simona Halep dominated much of the season, new faces, such as Naomi Osaka, stole the spotlight (and the US Open). Despite the youth uprising, a few veterans that didn't make quite as big of a splash are lurking just beneath the waters in 2019. Here are five players who are hoping to make a comeback:
Maria Sharapova (No. 29)
While Sharapova improved greatly between 2017 and 2018, breaking back into the Top 30 after ending 2017 ranked No. 60, she still doesn't seem fully herself. Sharapova did not win a single title nor reach the final of any tournament. She also ended her season early after losing to Carla Suarez Navarro in the round of 16 at the US Open. Sharapova will make her 2019 debut in Shenzhen.
2018 Highlight: Quarterfinals at French Open
Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 106)
Despite winning the title in Washington D.C., Kuznetsova had a poor 2018 season. Dropping outside of the Top 100 for the first time since 2001, the Russian couldn't generate victories, especially at the Grand Slams where she lost in the first round in all of them except the Australian Open—which she missed. It is a far cry from the results fans have come to expect from the two-time Major champion.
2018 Highlight: Winner at the Citi Open
Victoria Azarenka (No. 51)
Starting a season halfway through the year would be hard for anyone to make worthwhile. Azarenka, coming back from a pregnancy and custody dispute, didn't make 2018 a season to remember. Unable to reach the final of any event, Azarenka couldn't break back into the Top 50. She should gain more momentum with a full season in 2019.
2018 Highlight: Semifinals in Miami
Venus Williams (No. 38)
After reaching the finals of two Grand Slams in 2017, Williams couldn't stay consistent in 2018. The American dropped over 30 ranking spots, unable to reach the later rounds in most tournaments. At 38 years old, no one can predict whether the former world No. 1 will be able to win tournaments in the new year. Of course, this is a Williams sister we are talking about so, in the end, anything could happen.
2018 Highlight: Semifinals at Indian Wells
Samantha Stosur (No. 74)
For the first time since 2007, Samantha Stosur didn't reach a single final. The Australian also almost dropped out of the Top 75 in singles for the first time since 2003. These stats are far removed from the player that won the 2011 US Open. The former Top 5 will start her 2019 season in Brisbane where she will, hopefully, start the year off strong.
2018 Highlight: Semifinals in Mallorca
This Week on Tennis Channel Plus:
Hopman Cup (Sat - Sat 12.29 - 1.5)
• Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber headline the Hopman Cup. Watch live coverage on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Saturday 12/29 at 9:00pm ET.
ATP/WTA Brisbane (Sun - Sun 12.30 - 1.6)
• Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens open their 2019 seasons in Brisbane. Live coverage from three courts begins on Tennis Channel Plus on Sunday 12/30 at 8:00pm ET.
WTA Auckland (Sun - Sun 12.30 - 1.6)
• Catch the action from the ASB Classic including Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki. Live coverage begins on Tennis Channel Plus on Sunday 12/30 at 8:00pm ET.
WTA Shenzhen (Sat - Sat 12.29 - 1.5)
• Watch first to last ball action from the Shenzhen Open featuring Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko beginning Saturday 12/29 at 11:00pm ET.
ATP Pune (Mon - Sat 12.31 - 1.5)
• Watch Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic and Hyeon Chung live from Pune starting Monday 12/31 at 6:30am ET.