Serena saves American tennis despite not playing

BY foxsports • April 4, 2011

Although she hasn't played since winning Wimbledon nine months ago, Serena Williams somehow managed to move up two spots to No. 10 in the WTA rankings Monday, making her the only tennis player from the United States - male or female - in the top 10.

She's alone because her sister Venus slipped from ninth to 15th, while Andy Roddick dropped from eighth to 14th in the ATP rankings. The upper echelons of both rankings have been loaded with Americans since computerized lists began for the men in 1973 and the women two years later, but that could soon change.

Americans have never been absent from both top 10s at the same time. For the first time in ATP history, U.S. men were without any top-10 representative last year when Roddick bounced in and out of the elite group; the country was last without a top-10 women's player in May 2007.

Serena Williams has won 13 Grand Slam singles titles in her career but suffered a pulmonary embolism in February and was hospitalized to remove a grapefruit-sized hemotoma from her stomach. Before that, and shortly after winning her fourth title at the All England Club in July, she cut her foot on glass at a restaurant - resulting in a pair of operations.

But the amount of points she amassed up until then were enough to put her back in the top 10 for the first time since January because her sister and Marion Bartoli of France both dropped points in this week's rankings. Venus Williams hasn't played since retiring because of an abdominal injury in the third round of the Australian Open on Jan. 21.

It's not known when either Williams will return to the tour.

''As the rankings are based on a 52-week cumulative cycle, this is something that actually happens often with players, as their ranking can move both up and down despite not playing an event, as other players may have more points coming on or dropping off,'' the WTA said.

Serena Williams' stay in the top 10 could be a short one, however, because she leads No. 11 Shahar Peer of Israel by only five points, 3,035 to 3,030. And at No. 9, Sony Ericsson Open finalist Maria Sharapova of Russia is on the rise with 3,726 after spending more than two years out of the top 10.

''The next points to fall off Serena's record are from Rome last year (395), so her point total of 3,035 will remain unchanged until (May),'' the WTA said.

But Peer can move ahead of Serena Williams by reaching the quarterfinals at this week's Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, according to the WTA.

In the men's rankings, Roddick had been the mainstay for the United States following the retirements of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. But Roddick has struggled with injuries and a dip in form since losing to Roger Federer 16-14 in the fifth set of the 2009 Wimbledon final.

Instead, the highest ranking man from the United States this week is 29-year-old Mardy Fish, who moved up four spots to a career-high No. 11 on Monday after reaching the semifinals at the Sony Ericsson Open. With 2,376 points, he's closing in on No. 10 Gael Monfils of France (2,600) and No. 9 Jurgen Melzer of Austria (2,660).

''I don't think I would ever feel like I was the No. 1 American,'' Fish said last week. ''Andy has had a pretty good career. You can put his career on top of mine about six times. He's always going to be the top dog in my generation.''

But after Roddick at No. 14, the next best American is Sam Querrey at No. 20.

American men are going through their worst Grand Slam title drought in the Open era, which began in 1968. Since Roddick's 2003 U.S. Open title, 29 major tournaments have come and gone without an American male champion.

The only longer such gap was a 30-Slam shutout for U.S. men from 1955-63.

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