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Serena Ends Year at #1

Serena Ends 2002 As World No.1
by Roger Gatchalian
November 13, 2002


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American Serena Williams has fittingly finished 2002 as the season-ending world No.1 of women’s tennis, capping a stellar year that included three Grand Slam titles.

The 21-year-old swept the last three majors of the year, winning Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, dropping just two sets in 21 matches en route. She won another five titles throughout the season (for a Tour-best eight overall), compiled separate, Tour-leading 21- and 18-match win streaks during the season (56-5 for the year) and lost before the semifinals just once in 13 events.

Her No.1 ranking was secured after reaching the Wimbledon final in July, which she went on to win against older sister and defending champion, Venus. Since 8 July, Serena has maintained a several-hundred point (minimum) lead over Venus, and ends the year 940 points ahead of her nearest rival.

Venus enjoyed the first 11 weeks of her career in pole position, assuming the prestigious title on 25 February and reigning at No.1 in three separate spells (alternating with Jennifer Capriati then giving way to Serena in July). Runner-up to Serena in the past three Slams, a semifinalist at the Australian Open and winner of seven titles, Venus won a Tour-leading 62 matches in 2002.

Another 1344 points separate No.2 and No.3, Jennifer Capriati, who started the season with a bang by successfully defending her Australian Open title, saving four match points in the final against Martina Hingis in Melbourne’s searing heat.

The 26-year-old Floridian reached another three finals and five semifinals throughout the season, but a second Tour victory eluded her. In her best performance of recent months, Capriati held a 3-1 final set lead on Serena in the semifinals of the season-ending Home Depot Championships presented by Porsche before falling 26 64 64.

History is made at Nos. 4 and 5, with two Belgians occupying the Top 5 of the season-ending rankings for the first time in tennis history. Kim Clijsters, ranked No.9 just five weeks ago, won three of her last four events of the season, including last week’s Championships, snapping Serena’s 18-match win streak (the second-longest of 2002) to win the final 75 63. In just over a month, the 19-year-old Belgian leapfrogged Jelena Dokic, Daniela Hantuchova, Monica Seles, Amélie Mauresmo and compatriot Justine Henin to secure her second consecutive Top 5 season-ending ranking.

No.5 Justine Henin enjoyed her most consistent season to date, winning two titles (including her first Tier I at the German Open), reaching another four finals and four semifinals. Victories over Serena, Capriati, Seles, Dokic and Clijsters and two narrow losses to Venus provided invaluable experience. She achieved a career-high No.4 ranking after winning in Linz just prior to the Championships, and was only overtaken by fellow Belgian in the last week of the Tour season.

And the news is all good for Justine, who will become Mrs Henin-Hardenne later this month, when she marries fiancé Pierre-Yves in Belgium.

Filling out the rest of the Top 10 are Mauresmo at No.6 (her highest season-ending rank), Seles at No.7 (her 13th Top 10 finish from the past 14 years), Hantuchova at No.8 (up from No.38 a year ago), Dokic at No.9 (her second year-ending Top 10 rank) and Martina Hingis at No.10 (after enduring an injury-plagued season).

A Latin duo reigns supreme atop the doubles rankings, with Argentinean Paola Suárez at No.1 and Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascual at No.2. Spending much of the year trailing Lisa Raymond and Rennae Stubbs, Ruano Pascual/Suárez took the lead after triumphing at the US Open in September, having already defended their Roland Garros crown and reaching the Wimbledon final.

An upset first round loss at the Home Depot Championships presented by Porsche was not enough for them to relinquish the Top 2 positions, with defending champions Raymond/Stubbs also falling earlier than expected, in the semifinals.

The American/Australian duo picked up eight titles in season 2002 – one more than Ruano Pascual/Suárez, but their lack of success at the Grand Slams was their downfall.

Click here for the complete Sanex WTA singles and doubles rankings.


Sanex WTA season-ending singles Top 10 (week of 11 November 2002)

Serena Williams (USA)
Venus Williams (USA)
Jennifer Capriati (USA)
Kim Clijsters (BEL)
Justine Henin (BEL)
Amélie Mauresmo (FRA)
Monica Seles (USA)
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK)
Jelena Dokic (YUG)
Martina Hingis (SUI)

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