Qatar Open

Serena Williams becomes oldest woman to be world No 1

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 February, 2013, 4:41am


Serena Williams was in tears after snatching a historic victory at the Qatar Open that ensured she would become the oldest woman to hold the WTA Tour's world No1 ranking.

The 31-year-old American's 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals put her back on top of the world after an interval of 2-1/2 years during which she sometimes thought she might never play again.

"I am so sensitive nowadays. I am always crying, but I never thought I would be here again. I have been through so much," said Williams in a reference to the pulmonary embolism she suffered in 2011, threatening her life as well as her career.

The victory was testament to her competitive spirit and instinct for finding a way when no clear direction is evident.

It earns her the top spot at an age six months older than her fellow American Chris Evert, who was 30 years and 11 months. Evert's reign at the top was more than 27 years ago, underlining Williams' status as one of the all-time greats and possibly as the finest woman player there has ever been.

"When I was down I heard people cheering for me and I don't get that all the time," said Williams, who will start her 124th career week at No1 tomorrow.

That's a total bettered only by Steffi Graf (377), Martina Navratilova (332), Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209) and Monica Seles (178). "I am glad she is No1," said Kvitova with good grace. "She deserves it."

Williams was scheduled to face Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals overnight.

The Russian explained why she, outgoing world No1 Victoria Azarenka and Williams had appeared so downbeat about the three-way struggle for the top ranking.

"It's pretty special," she said. "But the ranking is always one of those things which depends on the other players' success and the tournaments that they play."