New world #1 Serena Williams, known for her notoriously light schedule, plans to do things a little differently this year. By the end of February, she will have already played in four events, and she will not let up there. Speaking at the tournament in Paris this week, she confirmed that she will be playing an April schedule that would seem daunting even to Jelena Jankovic. Williams will be playing the mandatory event in Miami on hardcourt, then flying off to Spain for the Marbella event on red clay the next week, then flying back to Charleston to play on green clay the following week. Three surfaces in three weeks on two different continents seems to indicate that, contrary to what she may imply, Serena Williams is serious about holding onto this #1 ranking. Williams likes to make it clear that she does not care about the rankings because her only concern is winning Majors, but this is certainly the schedule of a player who wants to rack up the points to remain #1.
Williams’ new schedule is a marked departure from past years, when Williams would play few events outside the majors. In turn, she would then have a deflated ranking that would put her in a seeding disadvantage when she did play. This no longer seems to be the case as Williams has a healthy lead in the rankings over #2 Dinara Safina, which looks only to increase in the coming weeks.
Her personal goals are certainly part of the reason for this change, but some of it can also be attributed to changes on the tour itself. While the new WTA Roadmap has been a subject of much scrutiny on the tour this year, Williams’ unprecedented schedule seems to indicate that it may, in fact, be working. Larry Scott’s primary goal for the Roadmap was to restructure the calendar to get more of the top players playing more events against each other, and Serena Williams seems to be obliging. Whether she will actually play all of these events remains to be seen, but it appears so far that Williams has taken up the mantle of #1 player and does not intend to let it up any time soon.