Written by Benjamin Snyder
Serena Williams reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in over two years on Monday after an emotional win that saw her defeat Petra Kvitova. She beat the Czech player in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 quarterfinal marathon match at the Qatar Open.
According to Reuters, Serena recovered from being down 4-1 in the final set against Kvitova to seal the win and take the top ranking.
The American then went on to face previous No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the final, which she ultimately lost in three sets.
Suppressing tears in the on-court interview after defeating Kvitova (see the video clip below for the full reaction), the 31-year old said, “I’m so sensitive nowadays, I’m always crying! I’ve just been through so much and never thought I’d be here again.”
Serena, whose return to the world’s best position among women tennis players saw her survive a foot injury in 2010 that led to a life-threatening blood clot, told reporters after the victory, “I never thought I’d play again. She continued, “Then I thought I’d never be able to win tournaments or Grand Slams. No. 1 was so far off. It was always a dream.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Serena called the pulmonary embolism the “scariest moment in my life.”
It turns out that despite downplaying the desire to reach the pinnacle of her sport’s rankings in the past, Serena secretly had the goal in mind. As quoted by Sports Illustrated, “I didn’t want to get into talking too much about No. 1. I think I would have put too much pressure on myself.”
Serena enjoys an additional accolade as well. At 31-years old, the 15-time major winner is now the oldest No. 1 since Chris Evert’s place atop the rankings at the age of 30.
It has been a position she’s held a number of times in her illustrious career. Reports Sports Illustrated in the same piece as above: “This will be Williams’ fifth stint at No. 1, having first ascended to the spot in July 2002 and most recently holding it for 49 weeks from November 2009 to October 2010. It will be her 124th week total at the top.”
The following week, however, Serena was forced to pull out of a tournament in Dubai, which began on February 18, due to a back injury that seemed to plague her during her loss to Azarenka in Qatar.
For a clip of the American’s emotional post-match press conference versus Kvitova, see below or view the WTA’s video here.
Benjamin Snyder is a sports contributor to The Burton Wire. You can follow Benjamin Snyder on Twitter @WriterSnyder.