Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
The most important point of Angelique Kerber’s season, maybe even her career, didn’t come in one of her three Grand Slam finals. Nor was it played out in her Gold Medal match at the Rio Olympics. It materialised in front of a pocket of fans on Court 4 at Melbourne Park when, match point down to Misaki Doi in the first round of the Australian Open, Kerber produced the type of big-point tennis that would go on to define her finest year yet. A broken string, a shank, or a mistimed groundstroke and the arc of tennis history would be bending in a very different direction. Instead, it was the beginning of something magical for the hard-working German. In her own words: “I thought, Okay, now I have nothing to lose anymore.”
Kerber would go on to win the Australian Open and the US Open, finish runner-up at Wimbledon and the WTA Finals, collect a silver medal in Rio and finish the year 2,030 points clear at the top of the world rankings. Much like Andy Murray, her success was a victory for perseverance - a collection of gradual improvements molding her into a complete player.
“I think I improved a lot in a lot of ways,” she said. “To see the hard work pay off… it's just the best feeling ever.”
The day before the Gold Medal match at the Olympics, Monica Puig’s father emailed her the words of the Puerto Rican national anthem. Just in case.
Puig, ranked No.34 in the world, wasn’t expected to beat Angelique Kerber in the final. Then again, when she began the year at No.92 in the world she wasn’t expected to even qualify for the Rio Games. But if 2016 was anything, it was unexpected, and with chants of "si se puede" (yes you can) raining down from the stands, she upset three Grand Slam champions en route to the unlikeliest of titles. In the year of the underdog - Leicester City, Portugal, Chicago Cubs, Danny Willett - Puig’s Olympic journey was as extraordinary as the rest.
In the end, the words Puig’s father sent didn’t really matter. Atop the podium, the tears said it all. A 23-year-old patriot from San Juan had delivered Puerto Rico’s first ever gold medal and one of tennis’ most stunning victories.
One of Serena Williams’ fiercest opponents these days is Steffi Graf’s legacy. In an era of numbers, Serena’s pursuit of Graf’s 22 major titles had become something of an obsession. Not just for fans and media, but for Serena herself. "It was incredibly difficult not to think about it,” she admitted. “I definitely had some sleepless nights. Coming so close. Feeling it, not being able to quite get there.”
After falling two wins short of the record-equalling feat at the 2015 US Open and coming within one victory at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros in 2016, Serena finally pitched her flag alongside the German great at the top of the Grand Slam hill, beating Angelique Kerber in a memorable Wimbledon final on a windy July day. It was an extraordinary achievement.
After sinking into the Centre Court turf in jubilation, Serena held up two fingers on each hand: 22. It was one of the defining images of the season.
Bear with us, but we're going to cheat slightly with this category. On court, the 2016 season had a bit of everything: significant results, big performances and drama-filled matches, but in the absence of a single stand-out match that oozed quality from the first point to the last, I look to something that ticked all those boxes: the Fed Cup final. It opened with Karolina Pliskova’s record-breaking 16-14 third-set win over Kiki Mladenovic, concluded with a stirring decisive doubles rubber, and featured two superhuman displays from Caroline Garcia in between. It was the perfect sandwich of gripping tennis, historical significance and shifting momentum, with the pendulum swinging back and forth for more than 11 hours of magnificent drama. It was tennis at its absolute best.
In the end, Czech Republic took home a 10th crown and France were left ruing what might have been. For their captain Amelie Mauresmo the disappointment was palpable, but there was a sprinkling of hope amid the heartbreak. For two days women’s tennis was given a stage in France and it captivated. “For women’s tennis in France to achieve that,” said Mauresmo, “it’s a very big satisfaction”.