ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA - Serena Williams is the first player to qualify for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2013, to be staged at the Sinan Erdem Dome from October 22 to 27.
The Top 8 singles players and Top 4 doubles teams will compete in Istanbul for a record-setting $6 million prize money purse and the most prestigious title on the WTA calendar after the Grand Slams.
"I'm very excited to have qualified for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2013 and have the opportunity to return to Istanbul in October to defend my title," Williams commented. "The support we received from the fans at last year's Championships was overwhelming and it's going to be a very special feeling returning to Turkey and playing in that incredible atmosphere once again."
Williams has amassed a 51-3 record this year, picking up seven WTA titles to bring her career tally to 53 (Brisbane, Miami, Charleston, Madrid, Rome, French Open and Bastad). And for a player who has done almost everything there is in the sport, she has achieved a few more: in February she returned to No.1 in the world, becoming the oldest player ever to hold the top spot; during Wimbledon she surpassed 600 career match wins, just the 15th player all-time to do so and only second active player (after Venus Williams); and a few weeks ago she won her first International-level title in Bastad.
The American has won the WTA Championships three times before, in 2001, 2009 and last year.
"I congratulate Serena on becoming the first player to secure her place at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2013," said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. "Serena is having yet another extraordinary season on tour, and continues to be one of the sport's greatest champions. She has earned the opportunity to defend her title and be part of our very special season finale in Istanbul."
"Excitement is building for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2013 with the confirmation that World No.1 Serena Williams will be back to defend the title she won following an unforgettable performance in 2012," Turkish Tennis Federation president Osman Tural said of the announcement. "I believe the final year of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul will be remembered as one of the most successful organizations in the history of the event. For the last two years the eyes of the world have turned to Istanbul for this significant tournament, which plays a vital role in supporting the Olympic bid of Istanbul for the 2020 Olympic Games. We invite all tennis fans to experience this wonderful event from 22 to 27 October and see the best players in the world in action."
Following two successful, record-breaking editions, Istanbul hosts the WTA Championships for the third and final year in 2013. In 2012, the tournament attracted more than 73,000 fans during six days of competition, the highest attendance at the year-end event since 2000. Broadcast coverage reached 167 countries, and the overall hours produced increased 25 percent, including live matches, match replays and highlights. Nearly 42 million fans followed the on-court and behind-the-scenes action via WTA social media and digital platforms, and it was a record-setting week for the official WTA website that week, with approximately 4.8 million page impressions and nearly 500,000 unique visitors.