Tennis: Venus Williams books 1st WTA Finals appearance since 2009

Venus Williams during the 2017 US Open Women's Singles semifinals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on Sept 6, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Serena Williams may be out of action after giving birth to a baby girl earlier this month, but her family name will still feature in the season-ending eight-player BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global next month.

Elder sister Venus, who is enjoying a stirring year of revival, has qualified for the elite tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from Oct 22-29. It will be the 37-year-old's fifth WTA Finals appearance, but her first since 2009, when she lost to Serena in the final in Doha.

The former world No. 1 had previously lifted the Billie Jean King trophy in 2008, defeating Vera Zvonareva.

Venus has enjoyed a fruitful year after reaching two Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon. She also made the US Open semi-finals earlier this month.

Those stellar performances gave the American enough rankings points to qualify for the WTA Finals singles event this week along with three other players - Romania's Simona Halep, Ukraine's Elina Svitolina and Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova.

World No. 1 Garbine Muguruza of Spain had gone through two weeks ago, leaving only three singles spots to be filled in the coming weeks.

"Each of these players has had incredible seasons, positioning themselves for the opportunity to compete at the year-end finale and hold the prestigious Billie Jean King Trophy," said Steve Simon, WTA chief executive officer and chairman.

"We look forward to seeing them all in Singapore."

For Svitolina, who won a tour-leading five WTA singles titles this season, it will be her maiden WTA Finals appearance.

The 23-year-old was triumphant at the Taiwan Open, Dubai Championships, Istanbul Cup, Italian Open and the Canadian Open. She also reached her second Grand Slam quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

Halep, 25, will will make her fourth consecutive appearance at the WTA Finals. She made the final in her first appearance in 2014, but lost in straight sets to Serena.

She won her 15th career WTA singles title at the Madrid Open, and reached her second Grand Slam final in Paris.

Pliskova, 25, will make her second WTA Finals appearance in a year which she attained the top ranking for the first time.

The Czech won three WTA singles titles this year - the Brisbane International, the Qatar Open and the Eastbourne tournament.

The battle for the remaining three spots is heating up, with only a month to go before the Finals.

For now, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova occupy the spots, but the likes of defending champion Dominica Cibulkova, French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, US Open runner-up Madison Keys and former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber are hot in pursuit.

This year, the winner of the Race to Singapore - the player who sits at No. 1 in singles leading into the WTA Finals - will be given a Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet.

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