America’s Serena Williams regained the number one ranking in tennis by beating Czech Petra Kvitova in three sets in the quarter finals of the Qatar Open.

Serena Williams: dethrones Azarenka

Serena Williams: dethrones Azarenka

Williams, will take over from Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka as the world’s top player on Monday, returning to the top spot for the first time in over two years.

The American, who appeared sluggish, out-of-sort, in the game and wasted so many opportunities, rallied when it mattered: coming back from 1-4 in the third set to beat Kvitova 7-5. And to announce herself as the queen of the game, she sealed the game with an ace.

Both players had drawn level in the first two sets, Kvitova winning first set at 6-3 and Serena winning the second also at 6-3.

At 31, Serena’s return to the top spot makes her the oldest woman to achieve the feat.

Chris Evert at 30 was the previous oldest world number one.

Williams, who was on the verge of tears for large parts of the deciding set, was 4-1 down before reeling off six of the last seven games, taking the match with an ace down the middle.

“I’m so sensitive these days, I’m always crying, but I never thought I would be here again,” said Williams, who was crying as she gave her post-match interview.

“When I was down I heard people cheering for me and I don’t get that all the time. I never thought I would be number one again.”

Williams will be the world number one for a 124th career week, a total only bettered by Steffi Graf (377), Martina Navratilova (332), Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209) and Monica Seles (178).

Other Qatar Open results:

Maria Sharapova (RUS x3) bt Samantha Stosur (AUS x8) 6-2, 6-4

Victoria Azarenka (BLR x1) bt Sara Errani (ITA x6) 6-2, 6-2