Serena Williams of the United States of America plays a forehand in her Quarterfinal match against Sloane Stephens of the United States of America during day ten of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 23, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
(PhatzRadio / AP) — DOHA, Qatar — An emotional Serena Williams returned to the top of women’s tennis, overcoming a series of potentially career-ending injuries since 2010 to become the oldest woman to hold the No. 1 ranking.
The 31-year-old Williams rallied from 4-1 down in the third to beat former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Open on Friday. She needed to reach the semifinals to replace Victoria Azarenka at No. 1 when the rankings come out next week.
Williams held up one finger after clinching the match with an ace and wiped away the tears as she addressed the cheering crowd.
“I never thought I would be here again,” Williams said. “Oh my gosh, I’ve been through so much. I never thought I would be here.”
Chris Evert held the top ranking in 1985 just shy of her 31st birthday.
It has been a long journey back to the top for Williams.
Shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2010, she cut her feet on broken glass while on her way out of a restaurant in Germany. That led to two operations on her right foot. Later, she had blood clots in her lungs and needed to inject herself with a blood thinner. She needed to go to the hospital when those shots led to a pool of blood under her skin.
“There were often times that I never thought I’d play again. Then I thought I’d never be able to win tournaments or Grand Slams,” Williams said. “No. 1 was so far off. I mean, it was always a dream, but, you know, I was No. 1 when tragedy struck, and it was just an awful thing to happen. So I’m happy that I’m back.”
She’ll face third-ranked Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.
World Tennis Tournament
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Julien Benneteau upset an out of sorts Roger Federer 6-3, 7-5 Friday to reach the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.
Defending champion Federer struggled with his serve and the timing of his ground shots throughout the match and Benneteau capitalized, punishing Federer on his second serves, to record his second victory over the Swiss master.
“It is one of the biggest wins, for sure,” the 39-ranked Frenchman said. “To play against Roger, Friday night, full house, it’s a dream and I played like in a dream.”
The defeat ended top-seeded Federer’s quest to become the first man to win the Rotterdam tournament three times.
Earlier, Grigor Dimitrov rallied to overcome Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-7 (4), 7-6 (0), 6-3 to advance to the semifinals, where he will meet 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — On one of the most important points of the match, John Isner walked up to the baseline, bounced the ball between his legs and wasted no time smacking an adrenaline-fueled 138 mph ace.
Isner advanced to the SAP Open semifinals for the first time in his career Friday, overpowering Xavier Malisse 7-6 (8), 6-2 behind his booming serve. The bone bruise in his right knee that forced him to drop out of last month’s Australian Open is no longer an issue, and apparently neither is his confidence.
The highest-ranked American relied on his big-finish forehand for two breaks in the second set and never let his strongest stroke slip during a quick 68-minute match. He will play today against fourth-seeded Tommy Haas, who beat wild-card Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-2.
SAO PAULO — Rafael Nadal overcame a poor start and a difficult third set to advance to the Brazil Open semifinals, beating Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday night.
Earlier, two-time defending champion and second-seeded Nicolas Almagro fell to David Nalbandian in three sets at the indoor clay-court tournament in South America’s biggest city.
Nalbandian will play Simone Bolelli of Italy, who reached his first ATP semifinals since 2008 when he defeated Albert Montanes of Spain 6-4, 6-4.
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