Highlights of WTA 2008 Season – second half

2008: Highlights of the Season

 

The second half of 2008 saw the competition for the No.1 ranking intensify, while several youngsters won their first titles and more established stars enjoyed golden form. In the end Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic surged ahead as the most consistent queen of the courts, and there was also plenty of activity on the sidelines as the Tour prepared its revolutionary 2009 Roadmap calendar.

JULY

In the first of three gripping encounters in the second half of the year, Venus Venus and Serena Williams play the final at Wimbledon – their seventh Grand Slam final showdown – with Venus prevailing for a fifth title; together the sisters also win the doubles for a third time, in what is their first title as a team in five years; both pass $20 million in career prize money

Laura Robson gives British tennis fans something to cheer about by winning the Wimbledon junior title at the age of 14. The Australian-born Brit would go on to make her Tour debut at the Fortis Luxembourg Championships in October

Although Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova started Wimbledon with a shot at taking the No.1 ranking from her, Ana Ivanovic holds onto the top spot post-Championships, despite her third round loss to Zheng Jie

The Top 10 welcomes a new arrival: Agnieszka Radwanska, who won three tournaments in the first half of the season, and reached her second Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year at Wimbledon

France’s Alizé Cornet sweeps the singles and doubles at Budapest for her first Tour titles; the same week, Italy’s Sara Errani matches the feat in Palermo and two weeks later wins a second title, at Portoroz

World No.85 Aleksandra Wozniak becomes the first Canadian to win a Tour singles title in more than 20 years, capturing the Tier II Bank of the West Classic at Stanford as a qualifier

Ivanovic and Jankovic become the first players to secure their berths at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha 2008

AUGUST

Sharapova announces she’ll miss the Olympics and US Open due to a nagging right shoulder injury; the Russian duly sits out the rest of the season

Safina clinches the Olympus US Open Series following back-to-back tournament wins at Los Angeles, where she defeated Flavia Pennetta in the final, and Montréal, where her finals victim is Dominika Cibulkova, who nonetheless cracks the Top 20

Danish 18-year-old Caroline Wozniacki wins her first Tour title at Stockholm; before the year is out she also wins at New Haven and the Japan Open, and establishes herself as a Top 15 player

On August 11 Jankovic becomes the 18th player to be crowned No.1, but a week later Ivanovic takes it back from her, in time for the US Open

Justine Henin makes a comeback… as a character in Smash Court Tennis 3, a game for Microsoft’s Xbox

Russia sweeps the medals at the Beijing Olympics, led by Elena Dementieva; Safina takes silver and Vera Zvonareva edges Li Na for bronze. In a repeat of their feat at Sydney eight years earlier, the Williams sisters win doubles gold for the US, by defeating Spaniards Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual

Away from Beijing, a resurgent Nadia Petrova wins her first title of the year at Cincinnati

With seven titles already under their belts in 2008, Cara Black and Liezel Huber are the first doubles team to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships; they have more than twice the number of points as their nearest rivals

On the sidelines of the US Open, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour celebrates the 35th anniversary of its founding at a gala event at the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center at the Sports Museum of America in New York City

Her preparation hampered by a thumb injury, Ivanovic falls in the second round of the US Open to French qualifier Julie Coin; it is the earliest loss ever inflicted upon a top seed at Flushing Meadows, and at No.188, Coin is the lowest-ranked player ever to beat a reigning world No.1

SEPTEMBER

Having beaten Venus and Safina in the two previous rounds, Serena Williams captures a third US Open title with defeat of Jelena Jankovic, playing the first Grand Slam final of her career; one of six women who entered the event with a shot at the No.1 ranking, Serena is restored to the top spot more than five years after her first stint – the longest gap in tennis history; Black and Huber win the doubles, their fourth major as a team

With player welfare and fan enjoyment in mind, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour launches its 2009 Roadmap calendar, the most sweeping reform to the circuit’s structure; innovations include the season-ending Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions, to be held in Bali in November 2009

Alicia Molik retires; soon after she breached the Top 10 in early 2005, a severe inner ear infection kept the Australian off the Tour for nearly a year, and her form never really recovered

Tour sponsor Sony Ericsson wins the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award for its contribution to the sport

Russia wins the Fed Cup for the fourth time in five years, with a 3-0 defeat over Spain at Madrid. Kuznetsova and Zvonareva spearhead the win; it is Kuznetsova’s third personal Fed Cup victory

In the 16th all-Russian Tour final ever – and the fifth of 2008 – Safina beats Kuznetsova for the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, her third Tier I title of the year; the following week Kuznetsova loses her fifth final of the year in Beijing at the hands of Jankovic

Jankovic and Zheng Jie help cut the ribbon at the official opening of the Tour’s new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Beijing

Almost a year after they opened their 6th Sense Tennis Academy in Belgium, Henin and longtime coach Carlos Rodríguez open a second, in Florida

In Albuquerque, 29-year-old Julie Ditty breaks the record for number of USTA Pro Circuit titles won, women or men (32)

Japan’s most successful singles player, former world No.4 Kimiko Date Krumm attempts a comeback at home in Tokyo, more than a decade after she retired at the age of 26

OCTOBER

Li Na defeats Serena Williams in the second round at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, ensuring Jankovic will regain the No.1 ranking regardless of her results at the event. The Serb beats Petrova for the title to underline her status

In a battle of two teens, Romania’s Sorana Cirstea saves match point against Germany’s Sabine Lisicki to win the Tashkent Open, her first title

Jankovic wins her third title in as many weeks with defeat of Zvonareva at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow; the last player to score a hat-trick was Nicole Vaidisova three years ago, but at lower level tournaments

Safina becomes just the fourth Russian woman – after Myskina, Sharapova and Kuznetsova – since the inception of computer rankings to rise to No.2

The Women’s Sports Foundation presents the Billie Jean King Contribution Award to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for its support of equal opportunity for women

Ivanovic shows signs of a revival in reaching the semis at Zürich, only to fall to Venus Williams; Williams beats Pennetta in the final, having fallen to her Italian nemesis at the French Open and Moscow this year

The Tour launches an official website in Mandarin

The Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships goes down to the wire, with Venus Williams and Zvonareva the last singles players to secure places in the eight-strong field; Zvonareva qualifies courtesy of a runner-up finish to Ivanovic at the Generali Ladies Linz. Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama grab a Doha doubles berth by winning the Linz title

Confirmation comes that Jankovic has done enough to secure the year-end No.1 ranking, regardless of results at the Sony Ericsson Championships

In reaching the semis at the Bell Challenge in Québec City (and ultimately winning the event), Petrova confirms her place as second alternate at Doha; Agnieszka Radwanska is to be the first alternate

NOVEMBER

Billie Jean King is named a Global Mentor for Gender Equality under a partnership between UNESCO and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

In a line-up that also includes Jankovic, Safina, Serena Williams, Ivanovic, Dementieva and Kuznetsova, No.7 seed Venus Williams and No.8 seed Vera Zvonareva record perfect results in round robin play at the Sony Ericsson Championships to reach the championship match; the American takes the title in three sets

Black and Huber win a second consecutive SEC crown – and 10th title of the season – by defeating Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs in the doubles final; the Zimbabwean-American duo crushed Medina Garrigues and Ruano Pascual in the semis of the four team event

Venus wins the Whirlpool 6th Sense Player of the Year Award, which honors the player who has demonstrated the most intuition throughout the year, according to fans and an expert panel

Ivanovic receives the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour ACES Award for the first time, for her off-court efforts to promote the sport to fans, media and in the broader community

Petrova and Safina present a cheque for €105,450 (around $132,000) to the international housing charity, Habitat for Humanity; the money was raised by the Aces for Homes initiative, which sees the Tour donate €10 each time a player serves an ace

Tennis great Martina Navratilova parachutes into the Australian rainforest as a contestant on British reality TV show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Jelena’s World, a documentary about the life of world No.1, has its premiere in Belgrade with the star in attendance. The filmmakers followed Jankovic over a 14-month period, to capture insights on and off-court

DECEMBER

Patty Schynder celebrates her 30th birthday on the 14th; the Swiss veteran has enjoyed one of her best years on tour, reaching the quarters at both Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows, and winning the 11th title of her career – the first in more than three years – at Bali. In the process she became the 26th woman to record 500 wins

Articles from WTA

 

 

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