DOHA // Ana Ivanovic might have been the back marker of the world's top eight women competing at the Sony Ericsson end-of-season championships but the Serbian showed her rivals the way in the annual battle for off-court recognition. The WTA make a "Diamond Aces" award at the end of each year to the player who earns most merit points for ambassadorial qualities at tournaments all around the world.
This year's competition mirrored that on the court between Ivanovic and her Serbian compatriot Jelena Jankovic for No 1 status. Ivanovic, who held that top ranking briefly before Jankovic surged past her, held off her rival for the promotional honour. She was presented with the Aces trophy shortly after announcing her decision to withdraw from her scheduled third round-robin encounter of the week against Svetlana Kuznetsova because of a viral complaint which hampered her during defeats earlier in the week by Jankovic and Vera Zvonareva.
"Being a tennis player is about a lot more than just hitting tennis balls and winning matches," she said. "The off-court side of things is very important and it is essential that we as athletes do what we can to promote our sport." The glamorous Ivanovic, who celebrated her 21st birthday on Thursday, is the ninth recipient of the Aces award, following Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Gabriela Sabatini, Amanda Coetzer, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Anastasia Myskina and the world No 7 Svetlana Kuznetsova.