(February 16, 2013)-Thanks to a quarterfinal victory over Petra Kvitova at the Qatar Total Open, Serena Williams will reclaim the number one world ranking in tennis on Monday. At 31 years of age she will surpass Chris Evert by a few months with the honor of being the oldest number one player in women’s tennis history.
Williams needed only to reach the semifinals in Qatar to return to the top ranking and it will be the sixth time that the American player has held the distinction. Though it has been a rocky couple of years for Williams who has been plagued with various medical problems, Williams captured her 14th and 15th Grand Slam titles last year as well as won gold medals in both singles and doubles at the Olympics.
Expected to carry her momentum into the Australian Open, Williams was upset in the quarterfinals by young American Sloane Stephens and missed the opportunity to take over the number one spot in Australia. But for a player that posted a 58-4 record last year it seems only fitting that Williams will once again be listed as the best player in the world.
“I never thought I would be here again.” said Williams after her quarterfinal win. “I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to get back to No.1. It has been a long road back and it’s a great feeling. It has been a lot of hard work but I don’t want to stop here.”
Fans of tennis certainly don’t want her to stop as well. Williams is the only American player to be found in the top ten and the next top ranked player is Stephens at number seventeen. The state of American tennis is quite anemic right now and the resurgence of Williams and her sister Venus in the past year has been a welcome boon to the women’s game.
Of course at 31 and clearly on the homestretch of her career, this is also a time where hopefully fans will appreciate even more the extraordinary tennis that Williams continues to play at an age when most players are already teaching tennis camps. Yet even though she is older than most of her counterparts and has had recent extensive medical problems, there isn’t a single player who looked across the net in the past year and thought they had the advantage when matching up with her.
With 15 singles Grand Slam titles and 13 more in doubles her place in history is still yet to be decided though she will certainly be listed among one of the greatest to have played the game. Only three other women in the ‘open era’ have more Grand Slams in singles and it is not unimaginable that she could pass at least Evert and Martina Navratilova who both have 18. To catch Steffi Graf with 22 might be beyond reach for even Serena, though if she can maintain her fitness for a few more years then anything is possible.
For now though Williams will focus on her spring schedule with the French Open looming just a few months away. No doubt one of her priorities will be to redeem her embarrassing loss at the hands of Virginie Razzano that bounced her out of the first round last year. She will be playing for her third French Open title and because of that loss with a bit of a chip on her shoulder as well. Hopefully she will also still be carrying that number one ranking, because tennis is simply better when Serena is on top.