BOTTOM LINE – Consecutive Grand Slam events played: 9
Serena Williams winning a Grand Slam event this season surprised no one. But Serena Williams returning to No. 1? That was definitely unexpected.
At the start of 2008, it seemed almost impossible that Williams would be able to reclaim the top spot, given her customary curtailed schedule. But that was before the women’s tour became a bastion of unprecedented parity.
As is her tendency, Serena played barely a dozen tournaments during the season – fewer than any Top 100 player except the injured Maria Sharapova and the semi-retired Lindsay Davenport. But with no dominant player on the circuit this year, a couple of brilliant stretches were all Serena needed to return to No. 1 for the first time since 2003.
Fittingly, this season was also Williams’ most successful since 2003, the last time she reached the No. 1 ranking. She won titles at the U.S. Open, Miami, and Charleston, and made the Wimbledon final (losing to her sister, the defending champion Venus Williams). Though Serena pronounced herself disappointed not to have won two Slams in 2008, she is now eighth on the all-time list with nine career major singles titles – more than any other active player. (Venus is the next closest with seven, and the next-highest total among active players is three.)
Serena’s participation in the rank-and-file events may be spotty, but she remains a consistent – and consistently dangerous – presence at the majors. The 2008 U.S. Open was her ninth straight Grand Slam event appearance (a career record). If she can keep that streak going next year, it will show she’s staying healthy and committed enough to widen the major-title gap she has on her peers.
To-do list: Keep showing up