ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA - Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka are the sixth and seventh players to qualify for the Sony Ericsson Championships - Doha 2009, set to take place from October 27 to November 1, 2009. The pair will join Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the elite eight singles field of the season-ending event.
Williams' qualification for the Championships comes on the heels of a strong season, highlighted by winning her 40th and 41st Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles in Dubai and Acapulco, as well as reaching finals at Wimbledon and Stanford. She also won four doubles titles with Serena Williams, including three Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open).
"I am pleased to have qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships and I look forward to defending my title," she said. "Qualifying for the year-end tournament is always a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the season and I am excited to have an opportunity yet again to compete with the best players in the world."
Azarenka has enjoyed a stellar season as well, winning her first three career singles titles on the Tour at Brisbane, Memphis and Miami, a Premier-level event. She won 24 of her first 26 matches of the season and cracked the Top 10 after Indian Wells, reaching a career-high No.8 after Miami. She also reached her first two Grand Slam quarterfinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
"I am thrilled to have an opportunity to go to Doha for the Sony Ericsson Championships," Azarenka said. "Winning my first Tour title and reaching the Top 10 for the first time in my career have really made my year and I couldn't think of a better place to finish it than in Doha. Having an opportunity to travel to the year-end Championships is an accomplishment I am very proud of."
"Venus and Victoria have had great 2009 seasons and earned places among the elite group of players competing at the Sony Ericsson Championships," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the Tour. "Venus is a true fan favorite around the world and it will be exciting to watch her defend her Championships title in Doha, and Victoria has had a breakthrough season and solidified her place as a formidable star on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. I wish Venus and Victoria luck in Doha and look forward to a great Championships and an exciting finale to the 2009 season."
"We congratulate Venus and Victoria on having great 2009 seasons," said Aldo Liguori, Corporate VP and Head of Global Communications & PR for Sony Ericsson. "Each year the excitement of the Sony Ericsson Championships eclipses the previous year and with Venus and Victoria heading to Doha, I am sure this trend will continue. We look forward to these stars joining the previously qualified players and wish them luck at what will be an exciting year-end Championships."