Williams faces challenge to hang onto new top ranking

February 2nd, 2009 - 1:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Serena WilliamsMelbourne, Feb 2 (DPA) Serena Williams will have to decide if she has the interest or the staying power to defend her new No.1 ranking, achieved as she won a fourth Australian Open title at the weekend.The American has returned to the position for the third time, also completing a one-two honours punch by also topping the earnings rich-list for all of women’s sports at around $23 million and counting.

But with her interests in acting and fashion design and a notably light playing schedule, it remains to be seen if the 27-year-old stays atop the heap.

“She doesn’t play that many tournaments,” said beaten opponent Dinara Safina. “If she plays every week, like most of the players, of course it will be tough.

“But she’s a champion, she proved it. It all depends on her.”

Williams, who also claimed the US Open and now has taken 10 Grand Slam singles titles in the space of a decade, professes that she is thinking ahead to Roland Garros in May.

“Obviously my sights are on doing well in Paris,” she said of the major which she won in 2002 but crashed out of last year in the third round.

“I didn’t do well at all last year. So when I get there, I won’t have that much to lose and I’ll just be really relaxed.”

Williams would not confirm exactly how much she might play in 2009, leaving all of her options open as usual. But with a new WTA schedule and rules requiring more mandatory events for top players, the new demands could become a personal issue.

“I don’t know how many tournaments I’m committed to on the WTA Tour,” she said. “I don’t remember exactly off-hand how many we have to play. So I’ll be in those events for sure.”

Williams said that she “forgot” that her victory also assured her of the top ranking. But then again, it probably doesn’t really matter: “I always believe I’m the best, whether I’m number one or whether I’m 100th, but having that extra bonus (the top ranking) is pretty cool.”

Williams said she “needed” her straight-sets victory lasting for less than an hour and marking the second finals loss at a major for Safina.

“I really needed that, and I wanted that for me. You never know what happens in life. Opportunities sometimes don’t present themselves twice.

“I think obviously I’ll have that opportunity again, but this was my chance to take it and run with it.”

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