January 31, 2009

Congratulations to World #1: Serena Williams

By winning the 2009 Australian Open, Serena Williams will emerge as the new World No. 1, replacing Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic who held the title for 17 consecutive weeks (18 total), when the new Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings are released on Monday, February 2, 2009. It will mark the third time in Williams’ career that she will be the World No.1 after holding the top ranking for a total of 61 weeks: 57 weeks from July 8, 2002 to August 10, 2003 and 4 weeks from September 8, 2008 to October 6, 2008. Serena reaches the World No. 1 ranking two days after becoming the all-time female athlete career prize money leader in all of women’s sports, and one day after capturing the 2009 Australian Open doubles title with sister Venus. With the win, Williams is guaranteed to hold the World No. 1 ranking for at least two weeks.

Jankovic’s fourth round exit at the Australian Open gave three players an opportunity to take the World No. 1 ranking – Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina and Serena Williams. By defeating Dinara Safina in the final with the score of 6-0 6-3, Serena secures the title of the World No. 1, followed by World No. 2 Dinara Safina (RUS), World No. 3 Jelena Jankovic (SRB), World No. 4 Elena Dementieva (RUS) and World No. 5 Vera Zvonareva (RUS), according to the February 2, 2009 new rankings.

“The 2009 Australian Open will definitely be one of the most memorable tournaments in my career. I am thrilled with winning this title and the news of becoming Sony Ericsson WTA Tour World No.1 is an added bonus,” said Serena Williams. “Serena has proven that she is a champion time and time again. She is one of the great players in the history of our sport and winning the Australian Open and regaining the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour No. 1 ranking seven years after her first World No.1 title take Serena’s career milestones to a whole new level,” said Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

“We’re thrilled to see Serena recapture the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour World No. 1 ranking,” said Aldo Liguori, Corporate Vice President and Head of Global Communications & PR at Sony Ericsson. “We congratulate Serena on her amazing Australian Open and applaud her for being such a great champion and ambassador for women’s tennis.”

Williams turned professional at the age of fourteen in November 1995 and played her first tournament in Quebec City, Canada. In her fourteen-year career she has won every major title in addition to ten Grand Slams, becoming only the fifth woman, other than Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Steffi Graf, to achieve such a feat. Of the current players, only Serena’s older sister Venus Williams comes close to such an achievement, with seven Grand Slam singles titles to her name.

Williams was a winner at the US Open in 1999 beating Martina Hingis, at 2002 Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open and 2003 Australian Open, each time beating Venus Williams; 2003 Wimbledon, once again defeating sister Venus, in Australia in 2005 and 2007 over Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova, respectively, and finally at the 2008 US Open defeating Jelena Jankovic. In addition, Williams won two Olympic Gold medals, both playing doubles with Venus Williams – in Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008. Serena Williams holds 33 singles titles and 13 doubles titles.

Noteworthy Australian Open statistics

Serena defeated three (consecutive) Russians on her way to claiming the Australian Open title (her 10th Grand Slam Singles Title and 20th Grand Slam title overall):
Quarterfinal: (8th Seed) - Svetlana Kuznetsova
Semifinal: (4th Seed) - Elena Dementieva
Final: (3rd Seed) - Dinara Safina

Serena has won the Australian Open every odd-numbered year since 2003:
(2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009).

Second straight major where winning the title vaults Serena back to the # 1 ranking

1st time Serena has won the Australian Open with the roof open.

Serena in rarefied company with 4th Aussie Win

For the women, the most Australian Open titles won (in the Open Era) is four. That means, Serena becomes just the fifth woman to have won the title four times. The other women are: Margaret Smith Court, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graff and Monica Seles. Having won the 1st Grand Slam tournament of the year, Serena puts herself in a great position to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam. She is also very close to duplicating the Serena Slam (when she held all four majors at once but not in the same year). She has been in each of the last three finals and is the current holder of the 2008 US Open and 2009 Australian Open titles.

Grand Slam Elite: Club 10

By winning the 2009 Australian Open, her 10th Grand Slam singles title, Serena joins the following (4) Tennis Greats who have won 10 or more Grand Slam Singles Titles (in the Open Era): Steffi Graff (22), Chris Evert (18), Martina Navratilova (18) and Margaret Smith Court (11). Serena passes Monica Seles and Billie Jean King (who won 9 each in the Open Era).

Just in case you are wondering about the term "Open Era," in 1968, commercial pressures led to the abandonment of the distinction between professionals and amateurs, inaugurating the Open era, in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. Thus, the open era in tennis began in 1968, when the Grand Slam tournaments, such as Wimbledon, abandoned the longstanding rules of amateurism and allowed professionals to compete. The first Grand Slam tournament to go "open" was the French Open (Roland Garros).

Serena's 2009 Aussie Double (in pictures)

No Question, No Doubt: Serena's (clearly) #1

Serena's drubbing of Dinara Safina (6-0, 6-3) was reminiscent of her destruction of Maria Sharapova in the 2007 Australian Open Final where Serena only lost three games. I never doubted that Serena would get the job done but the manner in which she is able to raise her game is mind-boggling. She was "on-form" in every sense of the word: her quick footwork, the lethal backhand, the ferocious forehand and that devastating serve (and return of serve). What an AWESOME display for the NEW #1. During the 1st set (which lasted only 22 minutes), Serena had 12 winners and 2 errors. Williams also converted five of six break points. She ended the match (which lasted 59 minutes) with 23 winners, 7 unforced errors and lost only one point on her 1st serve.

Dinara said that "Serena was too good" and left her feeling like a ballboy. Serena is 35-0 at the Australian Open when winning the first set. Serena now has a total of 20 Grand Slam titles (10 Singles, 8 Doubles and 2 Mixed Doubles). Williams backed up her pre-tournament comments that she is the best in the world no matter what her ranking. Serena has been in three straight Grand Slam finals (2008 Wimbledon, 2008 U.S. Open, 2009 Australian Open), winning the last two. Prior to this, the last time Serena won back-to-back majors was the 2002 U.S. Open and the 2003 Australian Open.

Australian Open Final: Serena's ESPN Interview

Serena Dominates Down Under! Wins Aussie Open!

Serena has won the 2009 Australian Open singles title (for the 4th time) by dominating Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3. Wow! This match was phenomenal. Serena truly brought her "A" game. Serena collects her 10th Grand Slam title and returns to the Top of the tennis rankings, #1 in the World.

January 30, 2009

3-Time Australian Open Doubles Champions

Australian Open: FINAL (Saturday)

Serena Williams (USA)[2] vs Dinara Safina (RUS)[3]
Serena leads Head-to-Head 5-1
3rd Match of the day at Rod Laver Arena
(Not before 7:30pm Saturday = 3:30am EST Saturday on ESPN2)

Venus and Serena Win Aussie Open Doubles Title!

Venus and Serena Williams won their eighth Grand Slam women's doubles title Friday with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Japan's Ai Sugiyama. The Williams sisters, seeded 10th, looked unflustered as they served out the first set in 38 minutes under a closed roof on center court. After exchanging breaks in the second set, the Williams sisters' powerful returns and superior movement around the court proved to be the deciding factor. This is the Williams Sisters third Australian Open Doubles Title.

January 29, 2009

Serena sets (Female Athlete) Prize Money Record

MELBOURNE, Australia -- All those winner's checks Serena Williams collects add up: By reaching two finals at the Australian Open, she broke golf star Annika Sorenstam's record for career prize money by a female athlete with nearly $23 million. Williams was busy Thursday, first beating Elena Dementieva of Russia 6-3, 6-4 in the singles semifinals and then pairing with older sister Venus Williams for a victory in the doubles semifinals. Even if the American were to lose both title matches, she would leave Australia with career earnings of about $22.7 million, according to the WTA Tour, eclipsing Lindsay Davenport's women's tennis prize record by more than $500,000 and Sorenstam's total by more than $150,000.

If Williams wins two Australian Open championships this week, she'll push her haul above $23.5 million. Told of the news, the 27-year-old Williams recalled her first check of $240 in prize money from an event in Canada in 1995. "It's amazing how much women's tennis has grown since I joined the tour 14 years ago," she said. "I am very proud to have reached this milestone for me, my family and all women athletes out there." Williams will play Dinara Safina of Russia in the Australian Open singles final Saturday,
bidding for a 10th Grand Slam singles championship, most among active players. She and her sister will be seeking their eighth Grand Slam women's doubles title when they face Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Ai Sugiyama of Japan in that final. Overall, the younger Williams has won 32 singles titles and 14 doubles titles.

Australian Open (Doubles): Final (Friday)

Venus/Serena (USA)[10] vs D. Hantuchova(SVK)/A. Sugiyama(JPN)[9]
1st Match of the day on Rod Laver Arena
Match begins Friday @ 3:00pm = Thursday @ 11:00pm EST)

TEAM WILLIAMS advances to Doubles Final

Venus and Serena Williams have defeated 12 seeded Casey Dellacqua(AUS) and Francesca Schiavoe (ITA) 6-0, 6-2 and now advance to the final to play for their third Australian Open Doubles Title. Their opponents will be 9th seeded Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) and Ai Sugiyama (JPN).

Interesting Fact: 3rd straight Grand Slam Final

Serena has advanced to her 3rd consecutive Grand Slam Final:
2008 Wimbledon / 2008 US Open / 2009 Australian Open

January 28, 2009

Serena dumps Dementieva: Advances to FINAL!

Serena has snapped Elena Dementieva's 15 match winning streak by defeating her in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinal round of the Australian Open. Serena truly played great tennis during this match and even won a 27 stroke rally. There were flashes of the 2007 Australian Open Final Serena throughout this match. Of course there were some errors but there was also some briliant tennis flowing from Serena Williams.

Elena Dementieva led 3-0 in the second set but could not claim the set. Serena raised her game tremendously and clawed back to claim the set 6-4. I am truly happy for Serena. She is always factored as the one to beat and based on today's display, you can see why. When it gets down to it, Serena steps up and plays "above the rim." Rod Laver said that she's the best pressure player ever! Serena advances to the Final where she will fight for her 10th Grand Slam Title (4th Australian Open) as well as the #1 ranking.

Australian Open (Doubles): Semifinal (Thursday)

Venus / Serena (USA)[10] vs C. Dellacqua(AUS)/F. Schiavone(ITA)[12]
5th Match of the day on Hisense Arena
(1st Match begins Thursday @ 10:00am = Wednesday @ 6:00pm EST)

Australian Open: Semifinal (Thursday)

Serena Williams (USA)[2] vs Elena Dementieva (RUS)[4]
Serena leads Head-to-Head 4-3
2nd Match of the day at Rod Laver Arena
(Matches start at 11:00am Thursday = 7:00pm EST Wednesday)

Australian Open: Quarterfinal pics

Serena stops Svetlana; Advances to Semifinal

Serena finally produced some tennis (during this Australian Open tournament) that truly convinced me that she wants the trophy (for the 4th time). Serena defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 5-7, 7-5, 6-1. Svetlana served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but could not close out Serena. Williams finally decided to "step up" and when it's "crunch-time-back-against-the-wall," NO ONE steps up like Serena Williams. She is the ULTIMATE BIG MATCH-BIG MOMENT fighter.

Her first set (in 100plus degree heat) was at times quite sloppy but when it was decided that the roof at Rod Laver would be closed (at the conclusion of the 1st set), Serena began to produce her signature tennis, the type of tennis that proves over and over again the type of champion she truly is. No matter how bad her match play, she rights the ship and finds a way to win. It was quite phenomenal. She began to move better, serve better, and she began to return more aggressively. Serena advances to the semifinal where she will battle Elena Dementieva for a spot in the FINAL.

January 27, 2009

Team Williams advances to Aussie Open Semis

Venus and Serena Williams have defeated Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)[16] and Shuai Peng (CHN)[16] 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in quarterfinal action at the Australian Open. Team Williams now advances to the semifinal where they will meet 12th seeded Casey Dellacqua (AUS) and Francesca Schiavone (ITA).

January 26, 2009

Australian Open: Quarterfinal (Wednesday)

Serena Williams (USA)[2] vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)[8]
Serena leads Head-to-Head 4-1
2nd Match of the day at Rod Laver Arena
(Matches start at 11:00am Wednesday = 7:00pm EST Tuesday)

Australian Open (Doubles): Quarterfinal (Tuesday)

Venus / Serena (USA)[10] vs Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) / S. Peng (CHN)[16]
2nd Match of the day on Margaret Court Arena
(Matches begin Tuesday @ 11:00am = Monday @ 7:00pm EST)

January 25, 2009

Serena into quarterfinal as Azarenka retires (ill)

Second-seeded Serena Williams has advanced to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open after her fourth-round opponent, Victoria Azarenka, retired due to illness. Azarenka won the first set 6-3 and Williams was leading 4-2 in the second set when Azarenka, who appeared to be wavering as she attempted to serve, finally retired to end the match. Williams also took a medical timeout in the second set for an ankle ailment. She next faces 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian player advanced earlier Monday after her opponent, Zheng Zie of China, injured her wrist and retired.

Azarenka was dominating and straight up "handling" Serena in the first set. She could do no wrong. Serena attempted to try to right the ship in the second set by holding serve for a 4-2 lead but by this point it was obvious that something was seriously wrong with Azarenka. The only thing I actually appreciated from Serena in this match actually happened after the match. Brad Gilbert asked Serena about the next match and she responded, "I love playing Svetlana, she plays so well, gets a lot of balls back, she hits so hard and has so much power but right now I'm just worried about Victoria and I want to go and make sure that she is ok. She's a good girl." I pray that Victoria is ok and that Serena can get her game together.

Serena's greatest win.....was over Andy Roddick!

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Andy Roddick has laughed off a 16-year-old loss to Serena Williams, saying he was just a skinny 10-year-old while she was "bench-pressing dump trucks." Williams said in a joking vein this week -- and she includes the fact on her website -- that her triumph over Roddick when they were preteens training together in Florida was one of her greatest wins.

"Any chance she gets, she just does it to get under my skin, and she does it very successfully," said Roddick, who has advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals after a fourth-round win Sunday. "She forgets to mention that it was 1993." He said they laughed about it on court Saturday as Williams sat him down to list the male players she claims to have indirectly beaten by winning against Roddick. But he complained that the game wasn't fair.

"When we were 10, I had to literally run around in the shower to get wet," he said. "She was bench-pressing dump trucks already at that time." Roddick also disputed Serena Williams' recollection of the score, which she says was 6-1. "She's good at not letting the truth get in the way of a good story sometimes," he said, smiling. "I think it was 6-4."He said he never played against Williams' older sister, Venus, because she was "way too good." He is proud of the success they have enjoyed since their Delray Beach, Florida, years."We just spent hours and hours out there just playing," Roddick said. "We all have done pretty well, and all three of those little kids out there got to No. 1, which is pretty cool."

January 24, 2009

Australian Open - 4th Round (Monday)

4th Round
Serena Williams (USA)[2] vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR)[13]
Serena leads Head-to-Head 1-0
2nd Match of the day at Rod Laver Arena
(Matches start at 11:00am Monday = 7:00pm EST Sunday)

Team Williams advances to Aussie Open Quarters

Venus and Serena Williams have eliminated 5th seeded Aussie pair Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs, 6-4, 6-2. The Williams Sisters advance to the quarterfinals and are moving closer to winning their 3rd Australian Open Doubles Title.

Serena cheers Jelena Dokic comeback

Tennis's original comeback queen Serena Williams says she is thrilled by Australian Jelena Dokic's fairytale return to form at this year's season-opening grand slam.

The Serb-born former world number four Dokic has captured her adopted homeland's imagination by reaching the last 16 as she returns to grand slam tennis after years in the wilderness due to depression and family strife. Williams, who fell out of the top 100 (to 140 now #2) with injuries then made a stunning comeback to win the 2007 Australian Open as an unseeded player, said she understood what Dokic was going through and was proud of her.

"I've just been so happy for her," she said. "I've been really rooting for her to do so well, I just think her attitude is great." The American, who is the bookies' favourite to claim her fourth Australian title this year, was also full of praise for the tennis that former Wimbledon semi-finalist Dokic has played. "Her game is just amazing now," Williams said. "She looks just the way she looked a while ago when she was able to reach number four in the world."

Williams and Dokic are on the opposite sides of the draw at this year's Open, meaning they will not play each other unless both make the final, a likelihood even the 25-year-old Australian would consider remote. Ranked a lowly 187, Dokic said she entered the tournament hoping to test herself against a top 20 opponent so she could gauge her progress. Instead she has ousted world number 18 Anna Chakvetadze and 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki, with a quarter-fnal berth beckoning if she can defeat Russian 29th seed Alisa Kleybanova.

Dokic renounced her Australian citizenship seven years ago at the urging of her now estranged father Damir and switched her allegiance to Serbia, describing the decision this week as the worst mistake of her life. After a series of poor results in 2004-05 she virtually dropped out of the game, save for a few half-hearted comeback attempts. She suffered severe depression, her weight ballooned and she eventually broke off all contact with her family. However she has since left Serbia and returned to Australia and is making one last attempt to come back.

Australian Open (Doubles) - 3rd Round (Sunday)

3rd Round
Venus / Serena (USA)[10] vs S. Stosur (AUS)[5] / R. Stubbs (AUS)[5]
3rd Match of the day on Margaret Court Arena
(1st match begins Sunday @ 11:00am = Saturday @ 7:00pm EST)