Defeated Serena hopes for Dubai Open victory

Defeated Serena hopes for Dubai Open victory

DUBAI - Agence France-Presse
Defeated Serena hopes for Dubai Open victory

Serena Williams of the US returns the ball to Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka during their Qatar WTA Tennis Open final match in Doha on Feb.17, 2013. AFP Photo

Serena Williams hopes to shrug off the disappointment of her Qatar Open final defeat by celebrating her return to the world number one spot after more than two-and-a-half years with victory in the Dubai Open.

The 31-year-old American’s performances have belied her status as the oldest number one in the history of the women’s game, as she came from the edge of defeat to survive against Petra Kvitova and depose Victoria Azarenka from the pinnacle.

Williams, who lost to Azarenka in the Qatar final on Feb. 17, could now face both again over the next few days.

The 15-times Grand Slam title winner is seeded to meet Azarenka in the final for the second time in seven days and the Dubai draw offers the likelihood of another meeting with Kvitova, the former Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic, who led 4-1 in the final set of their quarter-final in Doha on Friday.

If Williams’ recent achievements seem remarkable, after the pulmonary embolism which almost ended her career, and the persistent back and ankle injuries which harmed her chances at the Australian Open, they apparently do to Williams herself.

She revealed on Feb. 16 that “I never thought I would be playing at 31, although I don’t feel 31. I don’t know where the time went.

“I never, never, never thought I would still be out here, but I have nothing else to do,” she admitted. “I’m pretty good at tennis still, so why not? I’d just rather I didn’t sit at home all day.”

If Williams is to have a semi-final rematch with Kvitova, the sixth-seeded Czech would probably have to get past Agnieszka Radwanska, the world number four and the titleholder.