Singles Field Locked In
ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams have clinched the final two remaining spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, set to take place at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9, 2008. The world's top eight singles players and top four doubles teams from the 2008 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season will compete for the Championships title and a share of the record prize money of $4.45 million.
Venus will be making her third career appearance at the Sony Ericsson Championships and first since 2002, having reached the semifinals on both previous attempts while Zvonareva will be making her second appearance and first since 2004.
The final two qualifiers join an acclaimed list of players competing at this year's Championships, held for the first time in Doha, Qatar. Previous qualifiers into this season's event include World No.1 Jelena Jankovic, Roland Garros champion Ana Ivanovic, US Open champion Serena Williams, Roland Garros finalist and current World No.2 Dinara Safina, Beijing Olympic Gold Medalist Elena Dementieva and former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Venus' qualification into the Championships adds upon a season highlighted by two singles titles, including her fifth career Wimbledon championship. The title puts Venus third in the Wimbledon record books for most singles titles, behind Martina Navratilova at nine and Steffi Graf at seven. Venus won her second title of the season just last week at the Tennis.com Zurich Open, increasing her career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles to 38.
Her other season highlights include semifinal appearances at the Canara Bank Bangalore Open and the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany along with the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, the Beijing Olympics and the US Open.
"I am really pleased to have qualified for this year's season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha," said Venus Williams. "Competing in a round robin format against the players who have performed the best in 2008 is an exciting challenge. This year has been a very positive year for me and I am looking forward to continued success in Doha."
Russia's Zvonareva won two Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles this season at the ECM Prague Open and the TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women's Open. She was also a four-time runner-up at the Moorilla Hobart International, the Qatar Total Open in Doha, the Family Circle Cup in Charleston and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
Additional season highlights include semifinal appearances at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami and the China Open in Beijing along with assisting Russia in clinching the Fed Cup team title and earning the Bronze Medal at the Beijing Olympics singles event.
"It's a great accomplishment that I have reached the Sony Ericsson Championships this year," said Zvonareva. "It has been awhile since I last played and it feels wonderful to be one of the best eight players of the regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season. I look forward to returning to Doha to play the Championships, after I played really well at the Qatar Total Open earlier this year."
"Having Venus and Vera in Doha rounds out a tremendous field of accomplished players that are sure to deliver a fantastic week of tennis," said Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. "Venus is one of the great champions of our sport, and she has proven again in 2008 that her rewriting of the record books is not done. Vera is a wonderful competitor and it is great to see her back among the Top 10. Fans around the world will have the opportunity to watch some amazing tennis at our year-end finale." "The Sony Ericsson Championships will be a spectacular finish to what has been a great year for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour," said Aldo Liguori, Sony Ericsson Corporate Vice President and Head of Global Communications & PR. "Venus Williams is a player that emphasizes the great year it has been, winning Wimbledon for the fifth time and Olympic Gold. We are delighted that Venus will be competing in the season-ending finale and helping to make this a very exciting Championships. In addition, all eyes will be on Vera Zvonareva, where she will compete with some of the most talented players in the game. We are delighted to have such amazing players that make the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour such a fantastic arena for showcasing the best players that tennis has to offer." The complete doubles field at the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha is still to be determined. To date, the teams of Black & Huber and Medina Garrigues & Ruano Pascual have qualified while the other two spots are up for grabs. Currently the Czech-Australian team of Kveta Peschke & Rennae Stubbs, the Ukrainian sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko and the Japanese-Slovenian team of Ai Sugiyama and Katarina Srebotnik follow closely behind. With the official withdrawal of Maria Sharapova due to a continued shoulder injury, Agnieszka Radwanska has secured one of the two singles alternate positions, with the remaining spot up for grabs between Nadia Petrova, Flavia Pennetta and Caroline Wozniacki. Sony Ericsson is committed to bringing entertainment, innovation and glamour to tennis by creating unique sporting events as the 2008 Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. This tournament will bring the excitement of the game to a new audience, with the city of Doha set to benefit from the biggest tennis event ever to be held in the region. Sony Ericsson strives to energize the fan experience at the Championships, by bringing them closer to tennis through the integration of innovation and technology, to deliver the best possible sports experience. The Championships were first played in 1972 and since then the event has been held in notable venues such as Madison Square Garden, New York City, the Olympiahalle in Munich, Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the Recinto Ferial Casa de Campo in Madrid. Former singles champions include Tracy Austin, Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf, Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini and Serena Williams.