Mauresmo defends her rise to the top
September 13, 2004
Newly crowned world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo has hit back at critics who claim she needs to have won a grand slam title to justify being called the sport's best player.
Mauresmo, 25, deposed Justine Henin-Hardenne at the top of the WTA rankings on Friday without having to lift a racquet when her rival for top place, Lindsay Davenport, was knocked out of the US Open in the semi-finals by Svetlana Kuznetsova.
"The points system has existed for 30 years and it's not for me to criticise it," said Mauresmo, the first Frenchwoman to hold top spot. "This is something I want to keep.
"It has happened for me. I couldn't achieve it before because of injury, but it is something I have searched for."
Mauresmo's best grand slam performance remains her Australian Open runner-up spot in 1999.
This year, she was a semi-finalist at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Having lost in the quarter-finals at the US Open on Wednesday to Elena Dementieva, she admitted it was an agonising wait for her to discover whether she would become the new world No.1.
"Since losing to Dementieva, I had been very tense and impatient," Mauresmo said. "The waiting was terrible. I was obsessed with the world No.1 place being so close.
"I didn't see the first two sets of the Kuznetsova-Davenport match and when I switched on the television, they were in the final set. At the end, I said: 'That's it, it's happened.' It was my dream for two-and-a-half years. I was very emotional. It hasn't really sunk in yet."
Mauresmo said she hoped to inspire more French youngsters to take up the sport.
"I am very proud to be the first Frenchwoman to be No.1 and I would like to inspire young players and show them it is possible," she said. "I can't compare what being No.1 is like to winning a grand slam, but I hope so soon."