The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Tennis meets soccer: Our fantasy WTA Women’s World Cup squad

June 6, 2019

The highly-anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup is finally here! This month, the best women’s players on the planet will battle it out in France for the chance to win the most coveted trophy of them all.

So, as a bit of fun, we decided to construct a soccer team of WTA stars, based on their playing styles.

Goalkeeper: Caroline Wozniacki

Who else but the Danish Wall? For the past decade, Caroline Wozniacki has been one of the best defensive players in women’s tennis because of her anticipation, agility, movement, speed and most importantly – footwork. A goalkeeper needs all of these attributes to be effective in matches and put up clean sheets consistently.

Defense: Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Simona Halep

Since turning pro in 2003, Angelique Kerber has developed a great career thanks to her superb defensive attributes. The three-time Grand Slam champion can keep up with anything her opponents fire her way. The fact she’s a lefty also means she’s the perfect fit for our team’s left back spot.

Elina Svitolina is known for her impressive defensive play and complete baseline game. The Ukrainian earned this reputation thanks to her outstanding movement, which she can use to turn defense into offence with one swing of her racquet. The 2017 Rogers Cup champion’s favourite shot is her backhand, so she slots in perfectly as our left-sided centre back.

There is nothing over-complicated about Kiki Bertens’ game, but she is a consistent force on any surface. The Dutchwoman can take down opponents with her forehand, backhand or serve, which makes her so dangerous. The variety in her game is a massive reason as to why she’s had one of the best 2019 seasons so far. Given central defenders need to be able to adapt their style from match-to-match to best combat the strengths of the opposition attackers, Bertens is a great fit for this position.

Simona Halep never stops. Her stamina ensures she is rarely on the back foot and can impose her game on her opponent throughout a match. Halep’s incredible engine reminds us of some of soccer’s best full backs, as they’re required to join in the attack whilst also being relied upon to track back and help their fellow defenders. We’ve put her on the right of our back four.

Midfielders: Petra Kvitova, Bianca Andreescu, Sloane Stephens

Petra Kvitova is the definition of an all-round player. She can hit every shot in the book and change up her style in any circumstance. A midfielder needs to have an understanding of when to pinch offensively and when to focus on defense. The 29 year old is also known for reading her opponents very well and exploiting their weaknesses, and we think she’d make a terrific box-to-box midfielder.

A major reason Bianca Andreescu has rocketed up the WTA Tour rankings is the variety in her game. The Canadian has incredible power, but also great finesse – and, just like a central midfielder in soccer, she knows exactly when to use both attributes to her advantage. That would make her the perfect foil for her teammates from the middle of the park.

Sloane Stephens is an all-court player having reached at least the quarter-finals in all four majors. The American holds natural and effortless power that can be unleashed at any time, especially on her forehand. Her athleticism also means she can get around the court with apparent ease, making her the ideal candidate for our third and final midfielder position.

Strikers: Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka

Serena Williams blows her competition away with a lethal combination of power and speed. Every team needs a top-end forward that can finish instinctively – we’re thinking Christine Sinclair or Abby Wambach. One of the most dominant figures in sports, we can only imagine the nightmares Williams would give her opposing full backs when tearing down the wings and into the penalty area. She’s a shoe-in as our left-sided forward.

Karolina Pliskova plays with an aggressive style and usually dictates the pace. The Czech has both power and accuracy in her arsenal, both critical for any successful player – tennis or soccer. Standing at 6ft 1inches, Pliskova’s stature also makes her a great focal point for our attack and, therefore, is in the No. 9 spot in our WTA World Cup team.

Naomi Osaka is an aggressive baseline attacker. She relies on hard-hitting and consistency to win long rallies and overwhelm her opponents. Because of the 21-year-old’s top notch cardio, it seems like she never tires. Her ability to apply relentless pressure means she’d fit in well on the right wing, dragging her opponents up and down the field.

Ready? Play.