rankings: while in doha, serena williams becomes the oldest no. 1

Serena Williams - Oldest No. 1 - Qatar Total Open 2013

Breaking Records: American Serena Williams beat Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open, being contested in Doha this week, and with that returns to the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings. When the list is released on Monday, February 18, Williams will become the oldest woman to hold the top spot since the computer rankings came into being in November 1975. This is the sixth time that Serena’ll hold the No. 1 spot, and nearly 11 years since she first reached the top, in July 2002.

“I never thought I would be here again,” said Williams following her win over Kvitova. “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.”

Serena’s Dress: Serena’s still wearing the same colorblocked Nike Grand Pleated Knit Dress that she wore during the Australian Open; the colorway is grand purple with electro orange and ultraviolet. Note the zigzag stitching in the upper portion of the dress. (Buy: Nike Grand Pleated Dress, $90)

Doha: The other three Qatar quarterfinals were Azarenka defeating Errani, Sharapova downing Stosur, and Aga Radwanska beating Caroline Wozniacki — all in straight sets. Serena’s was the only match that went to three sets. Tomorrow’s semifinals pit Vika against Radwanska and Sharapova against Serena. (Draw: Qatar Total Open 2013 Singles)

More stats: At 31 years, 4 months, 24 days, Williams becomes the oldest woman to hold the world No.1 ranking since the introduction of computer rankings in 1975. Previously, Chris Evert was 30 years, 11 months, 3 days when she last held the No.1 ranking the week ending Sunday, November 24, 1985.

SERENA’S WEEKS AT NO.1:
July 8, 2002 – August 10, 2003 – 57 weeks
September 8, 2008 – October 5, 2008 – 4 weeks
February 2, 2009 – April 19, 2009 – 11 weeks
October 12, 2009 – October 25, 2009 – 2 weeks
November 2, 2009 – October 10, 2010 – 49 weeks
February 18, 2013 – current No.1 – 1 week

OLDEST PLAYERS TO HOLD WORLD NO.1 SINCE 1975:
Serena Williams 31 years, 4 months, 24 days
Chris Evert 30 years, 11 months, 3 days (Nov 24, 1985)
Martina Navratilova 30 years, 9 months, 29 days (Aug 16, 1987)
Lindsay Davenport 29 years, 7 months, 8 days (Jan 29, 2006)
Serena Williams 29 years, 0 months, 14 days (Oct 10, 2010)
Steffi Graf 27 years, 9 months, 16 days (Mar 30, 1997)

WTA Rankings - Weeks at World No. 1 - February 18, 2013

(Photo Credit: Qatar Total Open 2013)

rafael nadal’s first u.s. appearance will be in nyc

All eyes on NYC: The 2013 edition of the annual tennis exhibition at Madison Square Garden — the BNP Paribas Showdown — will feature Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka squaring off against Serena Williams and Juan Martin del Potro playing Rafael Nadal. This event on March 4 will headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of Tennis Night in America as well as the inaugural World Tennis Day.

Nadal will be making his first appearance in the U.S. after a long injury layoff when he takes on del Potro in the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown. Rafa is scheduled to participate in three events in the month of February including his return to the tour next week at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile followed by the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo, and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.

In 2012 the former World No. 1 won a record seventh French Open title, but a knee injury prevented him from playing after Wimbledon. The start of the Spaniard’s 2013 season was delayed by a stomach virus. The 11-time Grand Slam champion joins Andre Agassi as the only players to have completed a career Golden Slam. In 2009, Argentina’s del Potro broke through to win the US Open title. After wrist surgery in 2010, he returned to his top form in 2012, winning four titles and reaching the quarterfinals in three of the four Grand Slams.

World Tennis Day: World Tennis Day will be held with the support of the International Tennis Federation to promote Tennis10s, which tailors the game to its youngest players with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring. The cornerstones of World Tennis Day are grassroots opportunities for young players to participate in the sport at the local level. The day is highlighted by BNP Paribas Showdown events in Hong Kong as well as the annual event at Madison Square Garden in New York. The World Tennis Day effort complements the ongoing Tennis Night in America initiative to promote 10-and-under tennis by the United States Tennis Association that has been held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas Showdown for five years.

BNP Paribas Showdown: The BNP Paribas Showdown exclusively features players who have either won Grand Slams or ranked No. 1 in the World, if not both. Entering the 2013 season, the 17 all-time participants of the event at Madison Square Garden boast a combined 101 Grand Slam singles titles, 696 titles overall and a total of 1,565 weeks ranked No. 1.

Info: The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets start at $50.00 and are on sale now at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets. More information about World Tennis Day events and the BNP Paribas Showdown matches in New York and Hong Kong can be found online at www.WorldTennisDay.com. The Hong Kong event will feature John McEnroe against Ivan Lendl and Caroline Wozniacki against Li Na.

kit count: australian open women’s QFs

Australian Open logo

The Women’s QF draw at the 2013 Australian Open: adidas (6), Nike (4), Lotto (2), and 1 each for Under ArmourFilaLacoste, and Qiaodan.

Breakdown: See the complete list after the cut…

yep, you read that headline right

Better safe than sorry? On Wednesday morning, Serena Williams was part of a headline on TMZ, but there were no photos of the tennis star on a red carpet or out to dinner in Hollywood. Want more details? Click here. Or the image above. And should we really be surprised that Serena has a panic room? It’s Serena! | TSF Vault: Serena Williams

(tmz.com screengrab)

serena's all cut up in nike tees

Pass the scissors, please. One thing we loved about Serena Williams at the US Open this year was watching her walk into Interview Room 1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Not because we couldn’t wait to hear what Serena had to say — she’s actually notoriously bland in such situations — but for her hilariously amazing Nike tees turned home craft projects. Serena must have had plenty of late nights staying up with her assistant watching re-runs of her HSN appearances and Keeping up with the Kardashians while slicing through a collection of graphic tees. And by that we mean her assistant did all the cutting. Serena was probably painting her toes, right? Or Oprah’s.

Serena is getting some flak for her on-court apparel these days. But we say hey! What about what the girl is rocking off the court?

While the tees are all around a questionable move, we. Love. That. Hair. On the court, too? Do it, lady.

TSF Vault: Seren’a USO kit | Full USO coverage

More: Serena’s first UNICEF campaign

(screengrabs via USOpen.org)

trophy watch: american hardware

Slam season? It’s ova! I’m out of my let’s-research-this mindset from writing for USOpen.org after two glorious weeks with a great staff at the National Tennis Center, so I’ll give someone else a go at this stat: when was the last time a Slam included no “ova” winner? Barring one-half of the girls’ doubles winning team — that’d be Irina Khromacheva — and she’s an “eva,” so does she even count? For all I know it could have been the French this year, but it certainly seems like a shocker, no?!

The men’s tournament, in the end, wasn’t a shocker itself. Sure, it was shocking that Novak Djokovic for the second year in a row denied Roger Federer a shot at the title by saving match points (how ’bout that forehand?!), but in the end, it was a result that many in tennis expected: Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in the final. And what a final it was! Thanks for ending a semi-mediocre tournament with such a glorious match, fellas. ‘Til next time!

Sam-a-Slam: Let’s just talk about the tennis. Sam Stosur played lights-out ball for two sets against Serena Williams on Sunday night at the Open. For us it was reminiscent of the way Maria Sharapova pounded her way past Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Sure, Stosur’s style is completely different that Maria’s, but the result was the same: she lost just five games against her heavily-favored opponent to win her maiden major. One can only wish that the Aussie will show up with similar form at her home slam come January.

TSF Vault: Trophy Watch | 2011 US Open

Cindarella story.  This one really was written in the you-can’t-make-it-up category. Melanie Oudin, two years ago the Open’s golden girl, had paired up with this year’s golden boy in Jack Sock, and the two just stormed through the mixed doubles draw. No, they didn’t smooch! But we sure wish they would have. More? Doubles and juniors after the cut! [Read more…]

serena's u.s. open jewels

Graff, not Graf: Funny — a friend of ours mentioned today that the jewelry Serena‘s wearing at this year’s U.S. Open (to complement her Nike kit) came to her from Steffi Graf. It turns out that all the diamonds are from Graff, a London-based jewelry shop with a New York outpost. Ooopsies. (I could not even imagine how earrings like this would ever end up in the hands of Steffi!)

Into the quarters: This year’s title is still for Serena’s to take, and Ivanovic rolling over in their fourth round match fed into this prophecy. Although the Serb did some damage with her forehand (and got some help with the gusty winds), it still wasn’t enough to prevent Serena from notching the 6-3, 6-4 victory. Serena next plays Pavs. (Draw: Women’s Singles)

(image via Getty Images)

sunday survey: can anyone come close?

Crown her queen. For a set and a half yesterday, Serena Williams absolutely dominated Victoria Azarenka on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Serena had match points at both 6-1, 5-3 and 5-4, coming within a point of absolutely drubbing the world’s 4th-ranked player. But Vika saved four match points and drew the second set into a tiebreaker. And while the Belarussian couldn’t quite nab a set (or the match) from Serena, she made somewhat of a case for the rest of the remaining US Open field.

But who — really — can give Serena a true challenge in the final four rounds of the Open? Among Ana Ivanovic, Francesca Schiavone and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (her fourth round and potential quarterfinal match-ups, respectively), the three women hold a 2-7 (and 4-14 in sets) record against Serena in nine matches. So, who has the best shot? Tell us who you think below.

More: The women’s remaining 16

(Photo by Getty Images)

bracketology: it’s all about serena (plus more predictions)

By Christopher Phillips

Venus and Serena: potential final showdown? Or just posing for the red carpets? At the Hamptons magazine cover party last week. (Getty)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the men’s side of things here.

Caroline Wozniacki — Quarterfinals | Maybe the world’s no. 1 will play better now that her relationship with Rory McIlroy (someone who has actually won a US Open) is out and she’s back to her winning ways in New Haven. Her draws not the easiest of the top eight. She opens against no. 127 Nuria Llagostera Vives, then would likely play no. 43 Elena Vesnina in the 2nd round. 29th seed Jarmila Gajdosova could be trouble in the third round, but her summer’s been as underwhelming as the Dane’s. Wozniacki’s first challenge is in the 4th against Daniela Hantuchova, the 21st seed. Can the Slovak knock Wozniacki out of a slam for the second time this year?

Vera Zvonareva –- 4th round | The Russian opens against a qualifier and meets either hard-serving Lucie Hradecka or Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round. 30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues is the first seed Zvonareva will face and shouldn’t pose any difficulties. With all the attention on the slamless Wozniacki, the Williamses, and Maria Sharapova, maybe this is Vera’s year to sneak back into the finals. We can’t completely imagine it, though.

Sharapova –- Finals | The serve seems to be less of a question for Maria coming into this year’s US Open than it has been in recent memory. Maybe because her return game has improved? She beaten four of the top 15 players in the world to win her last tournament in Cincinnati and, given her draw, it’s difficult to see her meeting any real challenges until 5th seed Petra Kvitova or 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka –- 3rd round | Were it not for one woman –- 28th seed (?!???!?) Serena Williams –- Azarenka would be a bonafide lock to the semifinals. Unfortunately, Serena stands in her way. Don’t be surprised if some of Azarenka’s nerves about her upcoming match with Serena start showing during her second round battle against Rebecca Marino or Gisela Dulko.

Petra Kvitova –- Quarterfinals | If anyone can get in Sharapova’s way to the finals, it’ll be Wimbledon champ Kvitova. The Czech got the better of the Russian in England –- can she make it two for two this year? She could have a tricky first round against Alexandra Dulgheru and 27the seed Lucie Safarova could prove problems (if not an upset) in the third round.

Li Na –- 4th round | Li is capable of winning this thing or flaming out to Simona Halep in the first round. How about middle of the road? We see her losing to the ever-improving 10th seed, Andrea Petkovic, who has become the belle of the media’s ball this year and will do so even more with a run here.

Francesca Schiavone –- Quarterfinals | She’s got a relatively easy draw until a potential match-up with Cincinnati finalist Jelena Jankovic, the 11th seed, in the 4th round. Winner of that match loses to Serena in the quarters.

Marion Bartoli –- Quarterfinals | Bartoli’s strong statements in Toronto and Cincinnati? They didn’t happen. Marion made the semifinals in Brisbane and Doha earlier this year, finals at Indian Wells and Strasbourg, semis at the French, wins Eastbourne and takes out Serena at Wimbledon in route to the quarterfinals then follows it up with a trip to the Stanford finals. Hopefully early losses in Canada and Cincy — as well as a lackluster performance in New Haven — leaves Marion even more hungry for a run at Flushing.

Serena Williams –- Winner | Somehow she manages to look almost more relaxed and hungrier at the same time than ever before. Her play this summer only reinforces the fact that the rest of the field is just playing for second place. But can she stay injury-free?

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these gals could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

Petkovic | Sadly she’s made more news this summer for running off the court mid-match, but she’s got two wins over Kvitova since the Czech’s Wimbledon title, plus hard court wins over Wozniacki, Sharapova, Bartoli, Jankovic and Venus from earlier this season.

Can JJ find her 2008 form at Flushing this year? (Getty)

Jankovic | If anyone has enough gumption and attitude to upset Serena, it’s Jelena. A potential quarterfinal match-up between the two looms.

Hantuchova | With wins this year over Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Azarenka, Li, Bartoli and Venus, she’s capable of beating any given player on any day. Oh, Dani!

22nd seed Sabine Lisicki | The Dallas champ and Xperia Hot Shots winner is on her way back to the top after injury –- nowhere to go but up! But Venus looms in the second round…

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First Round Matches to Watch

13th seed Shuai Peng vs. Varvara Lepchenko | The Chinese no. 2 pulled out of this week’s tournament in Dallas and withdrew from Toronto and Cincinnati mid-tournament. If she’s not fully healthy, the American Lepchenko could end up with the biggest win of her career.

15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Sara Errani | The world no. 38 Italian narrowly missed out being seeded and lost a three setter to the 2004 Open champ earlier this season.

26th seed Flavia Pennetta vs. Aravane Rezai | The former top 10 Italian has been slumping the past couple years. Has Rezai shaken off her Aussie Open family drama?

Gajdosova vs. Iveta Benesova The big-serving Aussie has lost in the first round at six of her last seven tournaments.

Jill Craybas vs. Madison Keys | Battle of the Americans –- the old guard versus the new guard.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Polona Hercog | It’s the no. 2 American’s first match back since Wimbledon. If she looks good here, you’ve got to believe she can upset 24th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round and give 10th seed Samantha Stosur a run for her money in the 3rd round.

See the full women’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round
Wozniacki d Hantuchova
Petkovic d Li
Serena d Peer
Schiavone d Jankovic
Kvitova d A. Radwanska
Sharapova d Peng
Bartoli d Stosur
Lisicki d Zvonareva

QFs:
Petkovic d Wozniacki
Serena d Schiavone
Sharapova d Kvitova
Lisicki d Bartoli

SFs:
Serena d Petkovic
Sharapova d Lisicki

Finals:
Serena d Sharapova – 2 (relatively easy) sets

fashion focus: for nike, serena is the all-american gal

Nike‘s putting the “all-american” label on Serena Williams, giving her a red day dress, a blue evening dress, and white Mirabella 3 shoes. Note the sweetheart neckline and the halter-neck detail in the dresses.

Watch: Video from the Nike camp above (including a preview of the blue evening dress!).

(images and video courtesy of Nike)