Highlights of WTA 2008 Season – first half

2008: Highlights of the Season in Review…
For the first time in the history of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, a world No.1 stepped away from the sport she ruled in 2008. But there was no shortage of pretenders to the tennis throne, in a season that saw a handful of teens establish themselves as serious contenders, and mid-career surges by a clutch of more established players. There was plenty of action off court as well, including a marketing push of heroic proportions and happy news from some of the Tour’s best-loved retired stars.

JANUARY

After a six-month injury break due to a stress fracture in her right rib, China’s Li Na wins her comeback event at the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts on the Gold Coast, defeating fast-rising Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the final

Having won just one match in 2007, former world No.4 Jelena Dokic posts encouraging results at the Tier III event in Hobart, but falls in qualifying at the Australian Open

Maria Sharapova defeats Ana Ivanovic to win the third Grand Slam title of her career at the Australian Open; the French Open is now the only major missing from the Russian’s trophy cabinet. Ukraine’s Bondarenko Sisters, Alona and Kateryna, shock the form guide – and perhaps themselves – by winning the doubles title

FEBRUARY

Having last played a Tour match in 2003, Monica Seles rules out a comeback by formally announcing her retirement from the sport; the former world No.1 won 53 titles during her brilliant career, including nine Grand Slams

After a stunning 2007 season, Justine Henin wins the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award at a ceremony in St Petersburg, Russia; the Belgian is the third female tennis player to win receive the prestigious accolade, after Jennifer Capriati (2001) and Serena Williams (2002)

Ninth months after she retired from the Tour, 24-year-old former world No.1 and 2005 US Open champion Kim Clijsters gives birth to her first child, a daughter, Jada

In the first all-Russian final in more than a year (and 12th of all time) Sharapova maintains her perfect record in 2008 with victory at the Qatar Open in Doha; her victim is Vera Zvonareva, playing her first Tier I final

24th-ranked Francesca Schiavone snaps Henin’s 17-match winning streak in the quarters of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships; “Every point against Justine is like match point,” observed the Italian after the upset

MARCH

On International Women’s Day, which coincides with the staging of the Canara Bank Bangalore Open, event organizer the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association donates $100,000 to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s partnership with UNESCO on gender equality; Venus Williams, a Promoter of Gender Equality under the program, is on hand to welcome the contribution – the largest to date

Despite a loyal fan base, low scores from the judges scupper Seles’s chances in week two of US reality TV series Dancing With the Stars

At the Tour’s annual awards, Henin is named 2007 Player of the Year, as voted for by international tennis media. Cara Black and Liezel Huber are named Doubles Team of the Year; Huber also receives the Player Service Award for off-court contributions, voted for by Tour players. Other peer votes give Ana Ivanovic both the Most Improved Player prize and the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award. Lindsay Davenport is named Comeback Player of the Year for winning two tournaments after an 11-month maternity break, while Hungary’s Agnes Szavay is Tour Newcomer of the year

APRIL

Serena Williams defeats Jelena Jankovic to win the Sony Ericsson Open; with the victory, the American equals Steffi Graf’s record of five Miami crowns

Daniela Hantuchova, the No.3 seed at Amelia Island’s Bausch & Lomb Championships, is beaten by qualifier Karolina Sprem, playing her first Tour event in nearly a year following injury. The Slovak subsequently misses the entire European claycourt swing due to a stress fracture in her right foot

Two-time Grand Slam Amélie Mauresmo registers the 500th win of her career at Amelia Island, in what would nonetheless prove to be a difficult year: the French former world No.1 would finish 2008 outside the Top 20 for the first time since 1998

Sharapova wins the first claycourt title of her career at Amelia Island, defeating Slovak teen Dominika Cibulkova, playing her first Tour final

The achievement of equal prize money for women at all four Grand Slam tennis events takes the award for Greatest Sporting Moment of 2007 at the annual Billies Awards (named for Billie Jean King) hosted by the Women’s Sports Foundation in Los Angeles

Having triumphed at Bangalore and Miami, Serena Williams wins a third title on the trot at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, defeating Zvonareva in the final

Colombian Clarisa Fernández, who reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2002 as the world No.27 and subsequently cracked the Top 30, announced her retirement due to knee problems suffered since childhood and exacerbated by life as an athlete

Spain and Russia secure Fed Cup finals berths after respective semifinal wins over China and the United States

Anastasia Myskina, the first Russian woman to win a Grand Slam title – at Roland Garros in 2004 – gives birth to her first child, a son, Zhenya; the former world No.2 missed most of the 2007 season with a left foot injury

MAY

The Tour announces a new agreement with ESPN360.com, under which some 150 hours of play would be broadcast live online between May and November

Russia’s Dinara Safina defeats Henin in the third round at Berlin; the 22-year-old Russian goes on to capture her first Tier I title, the start of a hot streak that would see her rise as high as No.2 in the second half of the year

On the sidelines of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the streets of Rome are taken over by filming for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s most ambitious marketing drive ever, the ‘Superhero’ campaign. Renowned French director Matthieu Mantovani captures footage for television commercials, while New York-based photographer Nathaniel Welch shoots the print and digital campaign. More than 30 players take part

Henin announces her retirement – the first incumbent No.1 to do so – having spent 171 weeks at the very top and with 41 singles titles, including seven Grand Slams, to her name. Sharapova takes over the top ranking for a 15th career week, having first ascended to the top ranking on August 22, 2005

Jankovic mounts a successful defence of her Rome title, for her first tournament win of the year; the fourth-seeded Serb’s finals opponent is French teen Alizé Cornet, coming off her first Top 10 wins, over Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze

The four Grand Slams, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour publish the findings of an independent Environmental Review of Integrity in Professional Tennis; the review finds the sport is neither systematically nor institutionally corrupt and makes 15 recommendations to keep it that way

Agnieszka Radwanska defeats top seed and defending champion Elena Dementieva to win her third Tour title at Istanbul; in the process she becomes the first Pole to pass $1 million in career earnings
JUNE

Four players start the event with a shot at assuming the No.1 ranking, but it is Ivanovic who prevails with defeat of Safina in the final at Roland Garros; on June 9 she becomes the first player representing Serbia to become world No.1; a week later, thousands crowd the parliament square in Belgrade to welcome their heroine home

Three Tour stars – Sharapova (No.61), Serena Williams (No.69) and Henin (No.81) make the Forbes Celebrity 100 list

The launch of the Superhero ad campaign, a three-year, $15m initiative, is celebrated at the pre-Wimbledon players’ party hosted by Sir Richard Branson at London’s Kensington Roof Gardens

Alla Kudryavtseva, a Russian ranked No.154 in the world, upsets former champion and No.3 seed Sharapova in the second round at Wimbledon; the next day, China’s Zheng Jie upsets top seed Ivanovic in the third round, after the Serb had saved two match points against Nathalie Dechy in her previous match. Zheng, playing as a wildcard after injury saw her drop out of the Top 100, is the first Chinese player to beat a reigning world No.1; she duly becomes the first player from her country to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and announces her portion of the prize money shall go to victims of the devastating earthquake in her native Sichuan province

Tennis legend Chris Evert marries golfing legend Greg Norman in the Bahamas

Articles from WTA

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One Response to “Highlights of WTA 2008 Season – first half”

  1. bausch and lomb contacts | Digg hot tags Says:

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