Behind the smile of Denmark’s undisputed world star, a ruthless streak is emerging

Caroline Wozniacki, confirmed as the planet’s 87th biggest sports star, marches on with purpose at the French Open with a whitewash and a refusal to accept an apology

Caroline Wozniacki is the 87th biggest sports star in the world, according to the ESPN World 100 – a list that attempts to assemble together the planet’s biggest power-hitters.

Salary, influence, personality and sporting status were assessed – essentially how big of a sporting brand the star is.

And the former world number one – with more than 4 million followers on social media, a fashion brand fuelled by her numerous appearances in Sports Illustrated (see video below) and endorsements worth an estimated 46 million kroner a year – had enough firepower to force her way into the top 100.

Needless to say, she was the only Dane on the list.

Third-ranked tennis star
Amongst her peers, the 26-year-old is the third biggest female tennis star, trailing only Serena Williams (19) and Maria Sharapova (23), with Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard back in 93rd.

While the men’s game had six representatives – Roger Federer (4), Rafael Nadal (9), Novak Djokovic (12), Kei Nishikori (20), Andy Murray (32) and Stan Wawrinka (42) – world number one Murray’s placement below Nishikori shows how a huge domestic audience and market such as Japan’s has more clout than ranking.

Nevertheless, the list has some random inclusions. Brazilian footballer Kaka, a world star five years ago who now plays for MLS outfit Orlando City, placed 18th, Formula 1 world champ Lewis Hamilton could only make 84th, and there were a distinct lack of US sports stars – possibly to make up for other US media lists that tend to be dominated by them.

READ MORE: He Woz sorry

Like father, like daughter
Sharapova’s standing might grate a little given their recent history, as the fallout of the Russian agent’s comments that Wozniacki is a journeyman continue to rumble on.

The Dane has rejected American agent Max Eisenbud’s apology for claiming the reason she questioned Sharapova’s easy acquisition of wildcard places in tournaments – her only way of competing following a return from a drugs ban – is that it would make it easier for her to win the ongoing French Open.

Echoing the thoughts of her father, Piotr, the tennis player said a private email apology was not good enough as he should have gone publicly like he did with the original claim.

Double bagel victory bodes well
It’s hard to deny that Sharapova’s failure to make it to Roland Garros hasn’t opened the door slightly wider for Wozniacki – particularly given that Williams is pregnant and the top seed, Angelique Kerber, was knocked out in the first round.

Woz nearly joined her, needing three sets and over two hours to see off Australian 17-year-old Jaimee Fourlis, the world number 337, on Monday 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

But on Wednesday it was a different story as the Dane recorded what is often referred to as a double bagel due to the shape of the 6-0, 6-0 scoreline she notched up against qualifier Francoise Abanda, who was playing her fifth match of the tournament.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said after the game. “I think you know that clay isn’t my favorite surface of all surfaces, but at the same time I feel like I’m hitting the ball well.”

Nevertheless, the 11th seed still finds herself 12th on most bookmaker lists, with 33/1 widely available. Her next opponent is CiCi Bellis on Friday.