Serena, Sharapova headline Paris Indoor Open

6th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 6 (AFP) - Newly-crowned Australian Open champion Serena Williams continues her quest to reclaim the world number one spot when she headlines the EUR 454,000 (USD 585,000) Paris Indoor Open starting on Monday.

PARIS, Feb 6 (AFP) - Newly-crowned Australian Open champion Serena Williams continues her quest to reclaim the world number one spot when she headlines the EUR 454,000 (USD 585,000) Paris Indoor Open starting on Monday.

Williams, who jumped into second spot in the women's rankings behind Lindsay Davenport after her victory over her fellow American in Melbourne just over a week ago, returns to the spot where it all began for her six years ago.

The 23-year-old, making her fourth appearance here, won the first of her 26 WTA titles on carpet in the Pierre de Coubertin stadium back in 1999.

Since then she won seven Grand Slam titles and is the only player on tour to have won all the majors at least once.

"I'm excited to be number two now," said former world number one after a difficult 18 months marred by injuries and family tragedy.

"It's been a long way coming back. I'm almost to my goal, and it feels great.

I'm at number seven (Grand Slam titles) now. I'm like, 'Yeah, I feel so excited to be here'."

Williams has won the Paris title twice, 1999 and 2003, and was a finalist in 2000 before falling to France's Nathalie Tauziat.

And the top seed is expected to lock horns again with another French hope, Amelie Mauresmo, who is seeded second here this week.

Both Williams' Paris titles have come at the expense of the 25-year-old Frenchwoman whom she thrashed again in the quarter-finals in Melbourne. Williams is 9-1 in meetings with Mauresmo.

Mauresmo, won the Paris title in 2001, and her only victory over Williams was on clay in Rome nearly two years ago.

The Frenchwoman, who held the world number one spot for five weeks last year after a breakthrough season when she won five WTA titles, returns to Paris after missing last year's event with a back injury.

Five of the world's top ten players will be competing in Paris this week with Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova, the revelation of 2004 after winning her first Grand Slam title and the Masters in Los Angeles, making her first appearance in the French event.

The 17-year-old Russian prodigy was beaten in three sets by Williams in an epic Australian Open semi-final, but is fresh from her victory over Davenport at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Sunday.

Russia's Elena Dementieva is seeded fourth with Australia's Alicia Molik completing the top five.

The line-up also includes French veteran Mary Pierce, the 1998 champion, and finalist in 1995 and 2004, along with France's Nathalie Dechy, also an Australian Open semi-finalist.

Belgian Kim Clijsters will not be defending her title as she recovers from a wrist injury that has kept her out of action for most of last season.

Seeds: 1. Serena Williams (USA), 2. Amelie Mauresmo (FRA), 3. Maria Sharapova (RUS), 4. Elena Dementieva (RUS), 5. Alicia Molik (AUS), 6. Nadia Petrova (RUS), 7. Nathalie Dechy (FRA), 8. Karolina Sprem (CRO).

© AFP

Subject: French News

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