SERENA Williams has become the oldest women’s world tennis No 1 after her three-set win over Petra Kvitova in the quarter- finals of the Qatar Open in Doha.
Victory for the 31-year-old American ensured she will eclipse the previous oldest mark set by Chris Evert, who was 30 years and 11 months when she was No 1 in November 1985.
It marks Williams’ return to the top spot after a gap of almost two-and-a-half years, having been usurped by Caroline Wozniacki in October 2010, and her fourth reign at the top in total.
The feat also caps a remarkable comeback from Williams, who missed almost an entire year on tour due to injury and illness in 2011, and briefly slipped as low as 175th in the world.
Williams scotched retirement rumours by storming back in 2012 to win Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic titles.
She fought back from going a set behind to Kvitova and triumphed 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in just over two hours, despite also having twice fallen a break behind in the final set. She will next face Maria Sharapova in the semi- finals, after the Russian third seed beat Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-2. Top seed and now-deposed No 1 Victoria Azarenka moved into the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Italy’s Sara Errani.
There was a shock on the men’s ATP tour in Rotterdam when world No 2 Roger Federer’s title defence was ended with a 6-3, 7-5 defeat by world No 39 Julien Benneteau. It was, remarkably, the Frenchman’s 200th career win and the Swiss’s 200th career loss, but more importantly reduces Federer’s ranking points cushion over world No 3 Andy Murray.
World No 7 Juan Martin Del Potro – runner-up to Federer last year – stayed on course for his second successive appearance in the final by sweeping aside Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4. The Argentine will play Grigor Dimitrov in the last four after the Bulgarian came from behind to defeat Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 in a thriller.