Serena Williams came back from a 4-1 third-set deficit to beat Petra Kvitova and reach the semifinals of the Qatar Open, ensuring that she’ll become the oldest player to hold the No. 1 ranking in women’s tennis.
The 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory in Doha means Williams, currently ranked No. 2 behind Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on the WTA tour, will take the top spot for the 124th week in her career on Feb. 18.
At 31, she’s older than Chris Evert was (30) when Evert topped the WTA rankings in 1985. Williams last led the rankings for 49 weeks from Nov. 2, 2009, to Oct. 10, 2010.
After winning 58 of her previous 61 matches, Williams dropped the first set and trailed Kvitova, the No. 7 seed from the Czech Republic, by a service break in the third. The American fought back to advance to tomorrow’s semifinal against No. 3 seed Maria Sharapova of Russia, who beat Australia’s Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-4.
Williams has led the WTA Tour rankings longer than all but six others: Steffi Graf (377 weeks), Martina Navratilova (322), Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209) and Monica Seles (178).