The three-time Olympic gold medallist really hasn’t had a great season so far, battling with her illness and various on-court losses, but the news that she is eligible for automatic Olympic qualification must come as a big relief to the women’s’ tennis legend.
Having competed this year on clay court tournaments for the first time in two years, Williams has managed to boost her WTA ranking from 134th in the world to 47th despite her recent second round loss at the French Open last month. The top 56 singles players in the world are automatically accepted into Olympic qualification – with a limit to a maximum of four players per country – and on Monday it was confirmed that Williams will be joining her sister, Serena, Christina McHale and Uzbekistan native Varvara Lepchenko on the US Olympic Tennis Team.
Over on the men’s team John Isner likely to be the only top- ten-ranked player to make the team (he’s currently residing at 10th in the ATP rankings) however he is expected to be joined by Andy Roddick (currently at 32nd in the world) and Donald Young and Ryan Harrison (ranked 48th and 52nd respectively) who will be making their debut Olympic appearances. Due to his recent heart surgery and lay-off time, number 12 ranked Mardy Fish will not be competing at the Olympics this year.
Williams, who won a singles Olympic gold in 2000 two doubles in 2000 and 2008, has always held the games in high regard, having been quoted at the French Open as saying “The Olympics is just the ultimate in sports…Every time I leave the Olympics, I go through withdrawals. It’s the pinnacle of sports. I love it there”. This year’s London Olympic Games have a particular significance to the American since they will form part of the Wimbledon Championships and will take place between July 28th and August 5th.
The US Tennis Association is now waiting for official invitations for these top players from the ITF, which still hasn’t ruled whether both Williams sisters and Lephchenko participated in the required amount of Fed Cup tennis matches to make themselves eligible. Things look positive however, and official approval for the three players is expected to be received later this month.