World No. 1 1st to clinch Finals place

Serena Williams will return to Singapore to defend her WTA Finals Singapore title, after her qualification was confirmed yesterday.

It is the earliest that any women's tennis player has secured a spot in the season-ending tournament since this current eight-player format was adopted in 2003.

It is also the 10th time that Williams has qualified for the event, one which she has won five times, including the past three editions.

"I'm really thrilled to be the first player to qualify for the WTA Finals and I can't wait to return to Singapore to defend my title," the world No. 1 women's player said.

"Last year was my first time visiting Singapore and I really enjoyed myself - the crowd is amazing and I'm excited to be going back."

Last October, the American defeated Simona Halep 6-3, 6-0 in the final. The tournament was held in Singapore for the first time, with the Republic contracted to host five editions.

Williams, 33, has had a fantastic season so far, winning the Australia Open and the French Open. She has held the No. 1 ranking for 124 consecutive weeks, the third-longest streak after Martina Navratilova (156) and Steffi Graf (186).

"Serena is once again inspiring our fans with another historic season," said Stacey Allaster, WTA chairman and chief executive.

"I am thrilled for our fans in Singapore that they will have an opportunity to watch one of the greatest players to ever play women's tennis," she added.

This year's WTA Finals Singapore will be held at the Singapore Sports Hub from Oct 23 to Nov 1.

Marcus Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2015, with the headline 'World No. 1 1st to clinch Finals place'. Print Edition | Subscribe