WTA Flashback: The Last Time There Were No Russians In The Top Ten

Last week was extremely significant in terms of the WTA rankings, with it being the first time in almost 13 years since no Russian players were in the top ten of the rankings.

The fall of Maria Sharapova out of the top 10 last week, due to injury troubles in the last year and her recent suspension for meldonium usage, is arguably a low point for Russian tennis, which prides itself on being one of the top tennis nations.

This article takes a look back at the players that edged out Anastasia Myskina, then ranked 11th, on May 19th, 2003.

Williams Still At The Top After 'Serena Slam' Success

Serena Williams is currently at the world number one in the world, and that's was also the case back in May 2003.

The American was the most dominant player tour and had completed her 'Serena Slam' success earlier that year, beating sister Venus Williams in the Australian Open final to hold all four Grand Slam titles.

Serena remained number one until August that year, winning the Wimbledon title. Venus was also near the top of the game, ranked third in the rankings at the time.

Williams was one of the best players in 2003 (Getty/Bongarts)
Williams was one of the best players in 2003 (Getty/Bongarts)

Belgians Near The Top

The two greatest female Belgian players of all time are certainly Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, and the two were both in the top four of the world on May 19th.

Clijsters, then world number two, won more titles than anyone else in 2003, winning nine tournaments, and overtook Williams as the world number one in August, though had lost top spot by the end of the year and had to wait until 2005 for major success.

Henin, ranked fourth at the time, finished the year as the world number one and took the French Open, her maiden Grand Slam title, just a few weeks after the May 19th. She also went on to win the US Open title.

Henin and Clijsters after the French Open title (Getty/AFP/Jacques Demarthon)
Henin and Clijsters after the French Open title (Getty/AFP/Jacques Demarthon)

Americans Dominated Top Ten

The United States dominated the top of the rankings on May 19th, 2003; including the Williams, there were five American players in the top ten.

The most high profile players of the other three are former world number ones Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport. Capriati, ranked 7th, was beginning to struggle with injury at that point in her career, though Davenport, ranked 6th, would remain a strong force for a few years to come.

This week was particularly strong for the the then world number eight, Chanda Rubin, as she won the title in Madrid in that week. It was the sixth title of Rubin's career.

Rubin on her way to the Madrid title (Getty/Javier Sorano/AFP)
Rubin on her way to the Madrid title (Getty/Javier Sorano/AFP)

Mauresmo Highlights Other Stars

Former (then future) world number one Amelie Mauresmo is the highest profile star of the remaining players. The Frenchwoman overtook Davenport on this week to rise to fifth in the rankings.

The final two spots in the top ten were filled by Daniela Hantuchova and Jelena Dokic respectively.  Hantuchova would fall out of the top ten later in the year after some poor results whilst Dokic would fall out of the top ten the next week.

Mauresmo in 2003 (Getty/Sandra Behne)
Mauresmo in 2003 (Getty/Sandra Behne)

Russian Success Afterwards

Myskina overtook Dokic in the rankings the following the week, and started a strong period for Russian tennis after this.

Myskina won at Roland Garros the following year and it would become three slams in a row for Russian women, with Sharapova winning at Wimbledon and Svetlana Kuznetsova winning the US Open title; Myskina and Kuznetsova both beat another Russian, Elena Dementieva, in their respective finals.

Sharapova became one of the biggest stars in tennis over the next decade, completing the career grand slam and reaching world number one, whilst Kuznetsova reached world number two and won the French Open title in 2009 and Dementieva secured singles gold at the Beijing Olympics, where all three medals went to the nation. Further success came through the likes of three-time Grand Slam finalist and former world number one Dinara Safina and two-time Grand Slam finalist and former world number two Vera Zvonareva.

The retirement of many plays plus the recent troubles of Sharapova have led this absence, though it may not be too long until a Russian is back in the top ten; Kuznetsova has reached the final at the Miami Open, and will return to the top ten if she beats Victoria Azarenka or Angelique Kerber in the final.

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