Serena Williams will return to the top-10 of the WTA rankings for the first time since July 2017, despite not hitting a ball in anger this week.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion has not made a competitive appearance since letting a 5-1 lead slip against Karolina Pliskova in the deciding set of the Australian Open quarter-finals but she will creep back towards the summit of the rankings after results went her way.
Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova needed to reach the semi-finals in Doha in order to make her first appearance in the top-10 but suffered defeat to Russia’s Anna Blinkova.
Caroline Wozniacki was forced to pull out of the event due to illness and will now slip out of the top-10 for the first time since May 2017.
The Dane was world No. 1 at this stage last season. Williams’ rise back to the top end of the rankings is particularly impressive given the fact she has only played eight events since returning from pregnancy.
Serena Williams results since returning from pregnancy
2018 Indian Wells: R3 (l. V. Williams)
2018 Miami: R1 (l. Osaka)
2018 French Open: R4 (W/O Sharapova)
2018 Wimbledon: F (l. Kerber)
2018 San Jose: R1 (l. Konta)
2018 Cincinnati: R2 (l. Kvitova)
2018 US Open: F (l. Osaka)
2019 Australian Open: QFs (l. Pliskova)
The 37-year-old has failed to win a title in that time but reached two Grand Slam finals, at Wimbledon and the US Open. Her schedule is sporadic these days as she chases the ultimate goal of winning a 24th major title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record. But even with a relative lack of attendance on the WTA Tour, Williams has still established herself back among the elite.