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Belarusian Victoria Azarenka will finish the 2012 season as the Women's Tennis Association's Year-End World No.1, presented by Dubai Duty Free, becoming the11th different player to finish a season at No.1 since the introduction of the computer rankings in November 1975.
Azarenka received the year-end No.1 trophy, presented by Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at Dubai Duty Free Salah Tahlak, during an on-court presentation at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA ChampionshipsIstanbul.
Azarenka rose to No.1 after capturing her career-first Grand Slam singles title at the 2012 Australian Open. Aside from a four-week period after Roland Garros where Maria Sharapova held the top ranking, Azarenka has been No.1 for 44 of the 52 weeks in 2012 through the week of December 24.
"It's just been an incredible year â€“ I've had my two dreams come true," said Victoria Azarenka."To finish No.1 shows I've been playing really well throughout the whole year. To be a part of this history is just an incredible thing. When I first started to play tennis as a little girl, becoming No.1 in the world seemed so far away, and now I'm standing here and holding that trophy."
"Victoria has had a spectacular 2012 season and she joins an elite group by finishing the year as the WTA World No.1," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA. "In a season that has included climbing to the pinnacle of the rankings, winning six singles titles including her first Grand Slam, and two Olympic medals, Victoria has been a true champion on and off the court."
Azarenka's stellar start to the season began with a 26-match winning streak, the best since 1997 when Martina Hingis won 37 straight. The streak yielded the Belarusian four singles titles: the Apia International Sydney, Australian Open, Qatar Total Open (Doha) and BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells).
The 23-year-old achieved a 14-match winning streak after the US Open, en route to titles at the China Open (Beijing) and Generali Ladies Linz. She is the first player to win two Premier Mandatory events in the same season since the Roadmap calendar reforms in 2009, and her career title tally now stands at 14, the fourth most among all active players. Azarenka also enjoyed a successful summer, advancing to the Wimbledon semifinals and US Open final, in addition to winning two Olympic medals: gold (mixed doubles) and bronze (singles).
Azarenka's on-court success this year will translate to a record-setting prize money mark as she becomes the first women's player to surpass $7 million in a single season and could possibly surpass the $9 million mark if she wins the title. Earlier this week, Azarenka received the WTA Diamond Aces Award presented to the player who consistently goes above and beyond in promoting the sport of women's tennis to fans, media, and local communities by performing off-court promotional and charitable activities.
Disappointingly for Azarenka, she could not finish the year on a winning note, going down in straight sets to Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals of the WTA Championships in Istanbul.
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