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Belinda Bencic's 2021 bonafides continue with Swiss Sportswoman of the Year honor
The Olympic gold medalist earned more national recognition on Sunday.
Published Dec 13, 2021
Bencic closed out her season at the Billie Jean King Cup, and took out Top 5 player Barbora Krejcikova.
A Swiss tennis player garnered national athletic attention in 2021, but it wasn't the player many would have guessed before the season started.
For while 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer played just 13 times this year, compatriot Belinda Bencic went 37-20 on tour, won two medals at the Olympic Games—doubles silver and singles gold—and, as late as October, resided inside the WTA Top 10. Though she failed to win a title on the circuit, and finished outside the Top 20, Bencic is unquestioanbly one of the year's most memorable women's players. That was confirmed, in a sense, by the Swiss Sports Awards, which on Sunday named Bencic its Sportswoman of the Year.
The distinction is certainly justified given Bencic's play in international competition. There were the aforementioned medals, won in Tokyo in a solo effort and alongside Viktorija Golubic. In singles, Bencic topped US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez, Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova and Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova—all before the semifinal round. Pressure-packed three-set victories over Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova followed. In doubles, Bencic and Golubic were only beaten by the eventual top-ranked team of Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the final.
Then there was the Billie Jean King Cup, contested at the end of a lengthy season, which saw Bencic and her countrywomen reach the final before falling to Russia.
While Bencic reached just one Grand Slam quarterfinal in 2021, and has just three such appearances throughout her career (all at the US Open), she points to her Olympic triumph as an achievement all its own.
"I think for me the Olympics is the biggest thing," she told reporters in New York. "But of course I want to achieve more things, and I have more dreams. But I think for me the Olympics is the biggest kind of, how you say, yeah, it's on the biggest (smiling)."
The next questioner in the press conference called Bencic the "flag bearer of the Swiss tennis," and asked how she was handling this new role.
"I don't feel like I'm the only one that their eyes are on me," she said. "For sure I'm very happy and like proud to be kind of holding the Swiss flag up on the tournaments that Roger and Stan [Wawrinka] cannot play.
"But for me, it's not a pressure at all, because to even kind of have this chance in Switzerland, because Switzerland is a very country that has great players, so a little bit spoiled maybe in this. But I don't see this as pressure. I see it for sure as a privilege."
Words spoken by Billie Jean King—along with a Billie Jean King Cup finalist, and a newly crowned Swiss Sportswoman of the Year.