Henin, Jankovic First Qualifiers
ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA Justine Henin and Jelena Jankovic, the two standout players of the 2007 season thus far, are the first women to qualify for the singles event at the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, set to take place at Madrid Arena in the Spanish capital, November 6-11.
The Belgian and the Serb are currently in first and second place respectively in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships with 3245 and 2990 points each. Henin leads the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour with five singles titles already claimed in 2007, with Jankovic a close second with four singles titles.
For Henin, the world No. 1 and recent winner of a record-equalling third consecutive Roland Garros title, 2007 marks the seventh year in a row she has qualified for the prestigious year-ending event.
"I have excellent memories of playing in Madrid last year and winning the Sony Ericsson Championships," said the 25-year-old Belgian. "The title meant a lot to me as I hadn't played since the US Open. I was unsure of how I would do, yet I wound up beating the top two players Mauresmo and Sharapova to finish the year No.1. I am proud of the fact that for the second year in a row, I am the first to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships as one of the elite eight singles players and can't wait to go back there and be a part of that special atmosphere."
Jankovic is the first Serbian woman representing her country to qualify for the season-ending event. "I really can't believe it. Here I am, No. 3 in the world and to have qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships at this point of the season, it's amazing," said Jankovic. "At the beginning of last year I was going through a really tough time and was considering quitting the sport, going back to university, and 15 months later it has all turned around. It's incredible. I'm delighted to be part of such an elite event, where only the best players play, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world."
"Justin Henin and Jelena Jankovic have both had fantastic 2007 campaigns and have earned their spots in the Tour's prestigious season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Madrid," said Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. "With her five Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles and Roland Garros victory, Justine has further cemented her status as a true champion. Jelena is one of the brightest and most compelling stars in women's tennis today. Both Justine and Jelena have millions of fans who will be tuning in to see how they perform in November against the other best players in the world. This year's Sony Ericsson Championships promises to be one of the best ever."
"We are looking forward to building on the success of last year's season-ending Championships by making this year's event even more entertaining and exciting for tennis fans and the citizens of Madrid," said Dee Dutta, CVP and Head of Marketing at Sony Ericsson. "It makes Sony Ericsson very happy to see two of this season's most consistent players qualify for the Championships. Both Justine and Jelena have enjoyed a fantastic season, and seeing new players like Jelena Jankovic achieving their potential and becoming stars on the Tour is great for the game and the Sony Ericsson Championships."
"I am thrilled that both Justine and Jelena have already qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Madrid," said Spanish tennis legend and Sony Ericsson Championships tournament director Manolo Santana. "Justine and Jelena have had great seasons so far and really deserve to be in Madrid. Having the best eight players of the year in Madrid is a great opportunity for tennis fans in Spain and in Europe. I am sure that the coming weeks will reveal some more stars of the Tour who will be joining these two players at the Championships."
Henin has won 34 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles and six Grand Slam titles in her career (four at Roland Garros, one Australian Open and one US Open) and over $16 million in career prize money. In 2007, she leads all players with five singles crowns at the Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Qatar Total Open in Doha, Qatar; J&S Cup in Warsaw, Poland; Roland Garros in Paris, France and International Women's Open in Eastbourne, Great Britain. Last year, she claimed her first season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships title after qualifying for the sixth straight year. To date, she has amassed over 76 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles rankings, seventh all-time behind Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport.
Jankovic is the most improved player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in the last year, improving her singles ranking from No. 38 in May 2006 to her current career-high of No. 3. This year, she has won four singles titles on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand; Family Circle Cup in Charleston, SC, USA; Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, Italy; and DFS Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain and is the only player to have wins over both Serena and Venus Williams in the last 12 months.
The Sony Ericsson Championships will gather the Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams from the regular 2007 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season as they battle it out for the season-ending titles and a share of the $3-million prize purse. The defending champions are Henin (singles) and Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur (doubles).