China Open...Will it become a Tier 1?
"Serena Ignites China
BEIJING, Sept. 27 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Serena Williams is back. It took
a championship at the China Open to announce to the tennis world her true
intention of reclaiming the world No. 1 ranking. Defeating the red-hot
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the final of the 16-day event,
Williams earned her first tournament victory in 6 months and reclaimed the
title of the world's most powerful player.
''I just never gave up. I really didn't want to lose today,'' said the
multi-Grand Slam champion Williams.
In perhaps one of the best matches of the season, with WTA CEO, Larry
Scott, in attendance, the match-up of Serena v. Svetlana emerged as the next
best rivalry in women's tennis.
On the eve of her 23rd birthday, it was Williams whose hunger showed as
she ended the Russian's 14 match win-streak, which included the US Open and
Bali titles, all while overcoming a match point in the second set and
progressing to clinch a tightly contested third.
Played under a perfect Beijing autumn evening, the final was a dramatic
encounter: Serena received a code violation after smashing a racket into five
pieces following a close line-call, frequent harsh exchanges with officials
from both players, and a Serena-biased vocal capacity crowd, that at times
impaired the chair umpire's ability to hear the linesmen.
The over 10,000 spectators at the brand-new Beijing Tennis Center,
included Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan and Executive President of the 2008 Beijing
Olympics Yuan Weimin.
The charismatic Williams charmed the crowd throughout the week and was
adopted by the capital's fans who throughout her matches chanted her newly
acquired Chinese nickname ''Xiao Wei'' (Little Williams). The 12 personal
bodyguards assigned to ''Xiao Wei'' for the week struggled to keep up with the
enthusiasm of the fans that followed her throughout the massive facilities of
the young event, which has been earmarked, by Beijing and China to be
developed into one of the world's premier tennis tournaments.
''I have been really relaxed here. I love this city and want to be here
for the 2008 Olympics. I have been really enjoying myself in Beijing. I have
been sightseeing and taking pictures like an average tourist so I think I have
been relaxed and carried it out on the court.''
Serena's presence in the Olympic capital powered further the status of
tennis in the nation of 1.3 billion people. The popularity of the ''sport of
choice'' of China's new middle and upper classes has already achieved
unprecedented levels following the successes of Chinese player Jie Zheng, who
reached the fourth round at Roland Garros this year, and Tian Tian Sun and
Ting Li's phenomenal accomplishment of claiming the women's doubles gold medal
at the Athens Olympic Games.
Asked about a return to Beijing, the athlete and entertainer quickly
stated with a smile flashing across her face, ''You haven't seen anything
The tremendous success of the China Open, which is organized by China's
National Ministry of Sport and the Beijing Municipal Government, has laid-down
a solid foundation for the development of the tournament into China's premier
long-term, global-scale annual sporting event. The presence of the three
members of China's all-powerful elite Communist Party Standing Committee,
multiple Ministers, Governors and Mayors from the People's Republic's various
cities and provinces and both WTA and ATP CEOs, Larry Scott and Mark Miles,
has served as notice on the world of tennis that China wants to take Centre
''The inaugural China Open was a great success. It is clear from the
enthusiasm of the fans that the China Open has a very bright future,'' said Mr.
Scott following the China Open's awards ceremony.
The tournament attracted a strong field of players in its inaugural year,
including Maria Sharapova, Carlos Moya, David Nalbandian, Rainer Schuettler,
Paradorn Srichaphan, Vera Zvonareva, and Juan Carlos Ferrero. Serena joins
Russia's Marat Safin as the first singles champions of the 13-competition, 15-
court event, which was televised for over 150 hours nationwide to a potential
800 million domestic audience."