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Sunday, January 16, 2022

In WTA circuit, 30s all but the new 20s

Number one Williams and number two Li have both won two titles each this season and sit atop the world rankings.

Miami |
Updated: March 31, 2014 2:01:03 pm
Serena Williams and Li Na after the final (AP) Serena Williams and Li Na after the final (AP)

Miami is one of the favourite stops on the WTA Tour because of the city’s hip, youthful vibe but the final of Sony Open on Saturday was more about the golden oldies as Serena Williams and Li Na took centre stage.

As the downtown core was rocking to a techno music festival, out on Key Biscayne at the Tennis Center they were savouring some old time hits as two 32-year-olds slugged it out for the Miami hardcourt title.

Williams musical tastes may run more toward Mariah Carey but her play on a sweltering south Florida afternoon was more heavy metal as the world number one pounded out a 7-5 6-1 win over Li to claim a record seventh title on the Miami hardcourts.

“I don’t know,” shrugged Williams, when asked to explain how two 32-year-olds have come to dominate the women’s game. “I just feel that both she (Li) and I, we just have this never give up fight and it just goes to show that you can still shine at any age.”

Number one Williams and number two Li have both won two titles each this season and sit atop the world rankings as the circuit’s young guns scramble behind them.

Li’s two wins include an Australian Open title and she has reached the final in Miami and semi-final in Indian Wells. Her loss to Williams was just her third of the season.

With wins in Miami and Brisbane, Williams pushed her career total to 59 titles (50 more than Li) and looks poised for another season of domination with just two losses on her record.

“We’re playing great tennis and we’re both one and two and we’re both the same age,” said Williams. “For me, it was just an honour to be there with her. We are living the same life and at this stage, to be on top, I don’t think it’s been done before and I think it’s really awesome.”

While Williams was at a loss to explain the presence of the duo at the top of the rankings, Li sees it as shift in the game’s dynamics with experience and fitness counting as much as technique and youthful exuberance.

“I’m a young 32,” laughed Li. “I really feel now the tennis has changed a little bit because it’s not only about technique. More mentally or physically.

“Right now I take more care of myself. I know what I should do already before I come to the court.

“So maybe this is why these couple years I was doing well.”

Li, who is staying in a downtown hotel in the heart of the Ultra action was asked if she was tempted to join in on the fun, though she laughed at the suggestion.

“ No. Come on. I am to old,” smiled Li. “I was thinking about, Oh, so lucky only one night. Otherwise I would leave here.

“Yesterday I have day off and already in our hotel there are like so many young kids with strange dress. I look at them, I was like, Wow, we are really old.”

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