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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT (TICKER) -- Venus Williams offically moved to the top of the WTA's computer rankings on Monday.

With 4,790 points, Williams owns a six-point lead over fellow American Jennifer Capriati. She became the 10th woman to be ranked No. 1 in the history of the computer rankings.

Williams lost in the semifinals of the Dubai Women's Open in the on Friday. But the 21-year-old knew she had rise to the top spot for the first time with Capriati remaining idle since her dramatic victory over Martina Hingis in the Australian Open final.

"It's just been great getting there, but it's another thing staying there," said Williams, who is the first African-American, man or woman, to be ranked No. 1 "So I just have to be dedicated and, more than anything, keep enjoying the game. Because at any point it becomes a burden -- at least to me -- that's when it's a problem."

After winning her final three events last year, Williams continued her impressive form in 2002. She won three of her first four tournaments, capturing the Gold Coast, Paris Indoor and Antwerp titles.

Williams' lone defeat prior to last week came at the Australian Open, where she had a 22-match winning streak come to an end with a quarterfinal loss to Monica Seles.

When not battling various injuries or attending fashion school, the 6-1 Williams has dominated the tour, especially with her powerful serve. She has won 24 titles since 1998, including the last two Wimbledons and U.S. Opens.

However, the California native has been the subject of frequent criticism due to her lengthy absences from tournament play. Williams competed in just 12 events last year, though she won six.

By contrast, compatriot and former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport missed 2 1/2 months of the 2001 campaign with a knee injury, but still managed to take part in 17 tournaments.

"I think the best part is that I've enjoyed myself along the way and that I have not limited myself just to playing tennis or made myself believe that that's the only thing in life," Williams said. "I've always been doing things at the same time and having a career. For me, that's the best part."

But controversy has followed Williams and her sister Serena. They were the subjects of particularly pointed criticism during the 2001 Tennis Masters Series event at Indian Wells.

Poised to face her sister in the semifinals, Venus Williams withdrew due to tendinitis in her right knee. But the Indian Wells crowd did not believe it, jeering Serena in the final and their coach-father, Richard.

"Well, that was a year ago and a lot of things have happened since then," Williams said. "I think that myself winning two Grand Slams and the U.S. Open Finals with Serena and I, and also, just being No. 1. So, a lot of great things have happened since then."

Richard Williams predicted that his daughters would eventually take over the top spot in the rankings.

"Being No. 1 was firstly my parents' dream, but it soon became mine too, so reaching it was great not only for me, but for them too," Venus said.

"I was just being the daughter of a proud father. And more than anything, I think he knew he put the work in... We were listning to him, and that's why he had the confidence to say that myself and Serena would be Grand Slam champions. Right now, we are some of the best players in the game, I guess, in history, and I just think that I gave a lot of credit to my dad for that."

Venus next will take the court in March at Miami, where she is the defending champion.

"I think my special plan would be just to get home," she said. "It's been a long time on the road. I think I'm just looking forward to getting home and getting some rest with my family. At this point, I am the best player in the world, so that's exciting and it's going to be mine at least a week."
 
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