Serena Williams’ biggest rival on the star-lacking WTA Tour nowadays is her own body. And if the 31-year-old can stay uninjured during this week at the Qatar Open and reach the semifinals, she will reclaim the No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2010, and become the oldest player to rank No. 1.
The current record holder is Chris Evert, who was No. 1 in 1985 at age 30.
Currently ranked No. 2, the younger Williams sister has been ridiculously dominant against the current Top 5: No. 1 Victoria Azarenka (11-1 career head-to-head, 5-0 in 2012), No. 3 Maria Sharapova (10-2, 3-0 in 2012), No. 4 Aggie Radwanska (4-0) and No. 5 Li Na (6-1).
The only opposition that phases Serena are injury, and the sometimes-copious amount of body fat she carries around. But this year Serena showed up in Australia looking fitter than ever, and was the clear favorite to take the title until she went out to fellow American Sloane Stephens in a match that featured Serena coming in with an injured ankle, then tweaking her back during match.
“You know, just taking it one day at a time, basically,” she says of her current state of health this week. “So I will see how I feel after my first match.”
Three different women could emerge with the No. 1 ranking after the Qatar Open — Serena if she reaches the semis; the current No. 1 Azarenka if she reaches the final and Serena loses before the semis; or Sharapova if she wins the tournament, and Serena and Azarenka lose early.
“I think it will be a great feeling,” Williams said of possibly reclaiming the No. 1 ranking. “I obviously want it, but it’s not the only thing I want, so if it happens, great. If not, I won’t miss anything, I don’t think.”
The time-traveling Azarenka says she is not overjoyed about her head-to-head record against Serena, and looks forward to living in the future.
“Well, I’m not happy about it, I mean, that’s for sure,” Azarenka said of being 1-11 versus Serena. “I don’t really think about it that way, anyway. It’s in the past, and I never really look in the past. I make room for new memories in the future, to have my full focus, my full attention to live in the present and in the future.”
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