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TENNIS: The 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Istanbul – Serena Amongst Elite 8

TENNIS: The 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Istanbul – Serena Amongst Elite 8

(L-R) Li Na of China, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Serena Williams of USA, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Sara Errani of Italy pose for the official photo of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images for WTA).

ISTANBUL, Turkey – The eight competitors at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul 2012 were divided up into their two round robin groups at the official draw ceremony on Sunday, with play set to begin at the $4.9-million year-end finale on Tuesday, October 23.

The draw:

RED GROUP

(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

(3) Serena Williams (USA)

(5) Angelique Kerber (GER)

(8) Li Na (CHN)

WHITE GROUP

(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS)

(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)

(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE)

(7) Sara Errani (ITA)

Player Quotes:

(1) Victoria Azarenka: “Every match here is tough. I obviously have great champions in the group. It’s tough no matter what. It’s challenging, definitely, but I’m looking forward to it.”

(2) Maria Sharapova: “When you’re coming to the Championships you pretty much know what you’re going to get in terms of the level of the group. With the field we have this year, I think every match no matter what group you’re in is going to be pretty tough from the get go.”

(3) Serena Williams: “I don’t really care who I play, when play, as long as I can play. I’m really happy to be here. I’m on the Red side with Victoria, it’ll be good.”

(4) Agnieszka Radwanska: “I’ll have a good couple matches, I hope. There’s no easy group, so no easy matches. It’s the eight best players in the world.”

(5) Angelique Kerber: “It’s not easy of course, it doesn’t matter which group you are in. It’s hard, every match. We are now the best eight players. It’s an honor for me to be here. Every single match I will enjoy, it’s a bonus for me for such a great year. (On No. 5 ranking) It’s amazing.  When I started this year I was not thinking about No. 5 or to be here, so that’s really a great highlight for me.”

(6) Petra Kvitova: “I think you can’t choose who can be in your group. All eight players are great players who had a great season, that’s why we are here. For me, it’s very hard to be here second year in a row. I’ll try my best. I remember last year the great support. I am looking forward again to being on the court.”

(7) Sara Errani: “Of course it’s a tough group. All the groups here are tough, the players are strong. We will see. I will try to play my best game. Singles and doubles, it’s amazing for me. We will see.”

(8) Li Na: “Always tough. Doesn’t matter if you’re Red Group or White Group. Only top eight players can play this tournament. Everyone’s tough. It’s a good challenge for yourself.”

TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul

ISTANBUL, TURKEY | $4.9 MILLION | OCTOBER 23 – 28, 2012 | OFFICIAL YEAR-END CHAMPIONSHIPS OF THE WTA

First played in 1972, the season-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships has been staged in such noteworthy locales as Boca Raton, Los Angeles, New York City, Munich, Madrid, Doha and Istanbul, where it moved to in 2011 and will remain through 2013.

The event features the season’s Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams competing for $4.9 million in prize money at the Sinan Erdem Dome. Martina Navratilova has the most titles in the history of the prestigious tournament with eight, followed by Steffi Graf with five and Chris Evert with four. Navratilova also has the tournament record with 11 doubles titles.

Located in northwestern Turkey within the Marmara Region, Istanbul is a tourism mecca and the fifth-largest city in the world. It previously hosted an International-level event from 2005-2010.

“This is one of the biggest tournaments for us, and for it to be brought to Istanbul in one of the fastest-growing cities in the world is a big achievement, not just for us as tennis players but for the country itself, for the young girls and boys that are growing up that have watched the sport on TV that haven’t had the opportunity to watch this type of tennis,” Maria Sharapova said.

(Courtesy of wtachampionships.com)

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Sara Errani has officially qualified for the 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul starting October 23rd. Not only has Sara qualified for singles, but became the first player to qualify in both singles and doubles since the Williams sisters in 2009.

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Angelique Kerber has officially qualified for the 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships – Istanbul starting October 23rd. This will be Kerber’s 1st appearance in the year end championships and the first German to play the season finale since Anke Huber in 2001.

***************************************

Serena Williams has officially qualified for the 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships Istanbul after her US Open Grand Slam title win on September 9, 2012. Williams has qualified for the WTA Championships on nine occasions during her career, and is set to compete for the first time since 2009.

WILLIAMS LEADS NEXT ROUND OF QUALIFICATIONS FOR TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS-ISTANBUL
· Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka to make Championships debut
· Defending champions Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond return to Istanbul

NEW YORK, NY, USA – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced today that Serena Williams and the doubles teams of Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka and Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond have qualified for this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which will be staged at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. The WTA’s year-end finale, to be held from October 23-28, will feature the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for the coveted title and a share of $4.9 million in prize money.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to Serena, Andrea, Lucie, Liezel and Lisa on qualifying for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Serena has had an incredible year, becoming the only player in history to achieve a golden career Grand Slam in both singles and doubles, and winning her 5th Wimbledon and 4th US Open titles. Serena’s love of the sport and relentless determination to win continues to inspire generations of tennis fans from around the world.”

“Andrea and Lucie’s outstanding play has seen them reach the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, in addition to winning a silver medal at the Olympics. It is a wonderful moment for them to qualify for their first WTA Championships. Liezel and Lisa continue to set the bar for dedication and commitment, capturing five titles and spending 20 weeks as co-No.1s on top of the WTA doubles rankings. It will be great to see them back in Istanbul to defend their title.”

Serena Williams

This season Williams has added more highlights to her resume, including winning two gold medals at the Olympics to achieve a career golden Grand Slam in singles and doubles, securing her 14th and 15th Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, and surpassing sister Venus for the most titles won by an active player (45).

The 30-year-old has compiled a 53-4 record this season and a tour-leading six titles, bolstering her Wimbledon, Olympics and US Open victories with wins at the Family Circle Cup (Charleston), Mutua Madrid Open and Bank of the West Classic (Stanford). She is undefeated against Top 5 opponents this year (10-0), and with her tally of 15 wins, only one player can boast more defeats over World No.1 players (Navratilova, 18; equal with Davenport, 15).

Williams has qualified for the WTA Championships on nine occasions during her career, and is set to compete for the first time since 2009. The American is a two-time champion at the event – receiving a walkover in the 2001 final against Davenport, and defeating sister Venus in 2009 – in addition to reaching the final in 2002 (runner-up to Clijsters) and 2004 (runner-up to Sharapova in three sets).

Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka

Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka - Jon Buckle/AELTC

“It is such an unbelievable feeling to have qualified for the WTA Championships,” said Hradecka. “I watched the matches last year, and Petra Kvitova told us how amazing the tournament was, so we are really looking forward to it.”

“When we were planning our goals at the start of the year, our focus was really on the Olympics, but as the results started to come, we began to think it might be possible to qualify for Istanbul,” said Hlavackova. “It’s great that we’ll be playing indoors on a fast surface, and we’re going to have some fun and make the most of the week.”

The Czech team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka has advanced to seven finals so far this season, winning titles at ASB Classic (Auckland), Memphis International, and Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati), in addition to finishing runners-up at Wimbledon, US Open and the Olympics.

First teaming together in 2008 they have collected eight titles, including last year’s Roland Garros, and in doing so became the first all-Czech pairing to win a Grand Slam doubles title since Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won Wimbledon in 1990. Both players will be making their WTA Championships debut, and will follow in the footsteps of Novotna/Sukova who were the last Czech team to contest the WTA Championships, also in 1990.

Liezel Huber/Lisa Raymond

“One of our goals this year was to return to Istanbul and defend our title at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships,” said Huber. “Istanbul was a memorable experience last year and I am excited to be heading there again in October. The doubles competition there will be tough and I’m sure the fans will see some of the best tennis all year.”

“I’m thrilled to qualify for my twelfth WTA Championships and am looking forward to ending the year hopefully on a high note in Turkey!” said Raymond.

Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond are two of the WTA’s most decorated doubles players. This season they have reached eight finals and captured five titles: Open GDF SUEZ (Paris [Indoors]), Qatar Total Open (Doha), Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) and New Haven Open at Yale.

Between them, Huber and Raymond own 132 doubles titles, including 11 Grand Slams and 7 Championships, including last year in Istanbul. Huber has spent 199 weeks at the top of the WTA’s doubles rankings – behind only Navratilova’s 237 weeks – while at 39 years of age, Raymond is the oldest player ever to hold the WTA No.1 ranking in singles or doubles.

Huber will be making her sixth appearance at the year-end finale. The 36-year-old is a three-time winner of the WTA Championships, having won in 2007-08 with Cara Black, and last year with Raymond. This will be 39-year-old Raymond’s 12th journey to the event, having first qualified in 1994. Including last year’s victory, she has won the title four times; also in 2001 with Rennae Stubbs, and 2005-06 with Samantha Stosur.

These players join the already-qualified Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Five singles and one doubles spot remains open for this year’s player field.

RACE TO THE TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS-ISTANBUL
(players/teams in bold already qualified)

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