Clijsters reaches summit but needs seal of a slam
When Kim Clijsters reached the world number one spot on Sunday by winning the JPMorgan Chase Open it signalled the end of 68 weeks of Williams sisters domination of the rankings.
The Belgian's form has been relentless this season, taking her to the semi-finals or better in 16 of her last 17 tournaments. Her victory over Lindsay Davenport, herself a former world number one, was her ninth title in 12 months.
It is a formidable record, but one that is unlikely to cause Serena, holder of the top spot since July last year, or Venus (No.1 for 11 weeks in 2002) to lose much sleep.
The American siblings, whatever the rankings say, are still the benchmark for the rest, as their virtual monopoly on the grand slams proves.
This year's Wimbledon was the sixth time they had contested a grand slam final since Venus beat Serena at Flushing Meadows in 2001.
In that period only Jennifer Capriati (2002 Australian Open) and Justine Henin-Hardenne (2003 French Open) have got a look-in.
Clijsters, twice a losing finalist at Roland Garros, was justifiably thrilled at becoming the 12th woman to reach the pinnacle since the WTA computer rankings began in 1975.
"No matter what happens the rest of my career, no one will ever take that away from me," she said on the WTA website. "It's something I will have on my resume."
Clijsters, however, is also the first player to lead the rankings without winning a grand slam.
As in the men's game, she will discover that it's grand slam titles thaltimately stick in the memory.
Who remembers that Marcelo Rios was a world number one? The Chilean's brief stay paled into insignificance next to his inability to capture a major crown.
If Clijsters is not to head down the same route she will need to turn ranking points into grand slam titles -- and quickly.
Although Serena has played only 11 tournaments in 2003, her tournament wins include the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Clijsters, meanwhile, has chalked up the points by relentlessly travelling around the globe, playing 22 events this season.
With Serena ruled out of the U.S. Open (knee surgery) and Venus a major doubt (abdominal strain), she may never have a better chance to cement her place in the annals of the women's game and erase the memory of her capitulation against Capriati in the third set of the French Open final in 2001.