WTATour.com Player of the Week - Serena Williams
MIAMI - There have been few instances over the years in tennis where a player has overcame a lengthy layoff to win a title in their first outing back in action. In recent years, only Monica Seles was able to accomplish the feat - returning from a 28-month hiatus following the 1993 stabbing incident to win the 1995 Canadian Open.
Now Serena Williams
can be added to the list after making her eight months away from the game appear to be more like only eight days with her win at the NASDAQ-100 Open. Williams' remarkable comeback to the game makes her this week's WTATour.com Player of the Week.
Williams completed her return to the game with a 61 61
victory against No.5 seed Elena Dementieva, needing only 50
minutes to capture her first title since last July's Wimbledon title. Williams was forced out of the game last August when she underwent knee surgery, prematurely ending her 2003 season and consequently forcing the 22-year-old to give up her place as the World No.1.
But Williams' performance in Miami showed she's ready to recapture the top spot in women's tennis, as she only dropped one set during her two week stay at Crandon Park Tennis Center. After a 42-minute
dismantling of qualifier Marta Marrero, Williams faced her toughest match of the fortnight, defeating No.31 seed Elena Likhovtseva in three sets. Williams then compiled straight sets wins against Maria Sharapova, Jill Craybas and Eleni Daniilidou to setup the clash in the final with Dementieva.
"I have a much better idea as to where I am today," Williams said of her performance in Miami. "Two weeks ago I was really nervous to come out here and play for the first time in eight months. I'm just thinking, 'Gosh, I'm really nervous. I want to get out.' But at the same time I was really, really anxious to come back and get out here."
By winning her third straight title at the Tier I event, Williams became only the second woman ever to win three consecutive Miami crowns in the 20-year history of the event, joining Steffi Graf who captured three straight from 1994-96.
Williams will now continue her return to the game, moving from the hard courts in Miami to the green clay at Amelia Island and Charleston before heading to Europe in preparation for Roland Garros. Though she has her first tournament back out of the way, Williams is approaching each match one at a time.
"When I won my first match, I had another match," Williams said. "That's how I just looked at it the whole time, just go from match to match and hopefully I just never looked to see who I was going to play in the next round. I just wanted to go out there, and I just wanted to compete. Whether I won or lost, I just wanted to make sure I did what I was supposed to do."