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Ana herself may be too humble to talk about being one of the world’s best and most marketable tennis players, but the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour certainly is not – she has been named a Gold Exempt player for the 2006 season.
During each off-season, as the players recharge their batteries, reflect on the year gone by, and perhaps grab some turkey and cranberry sauce on the go (such is the paucity of the Christmas break), the governing body of the women’s game draws up a list of its 20 most valuable players. Known as Gold Exempt Players, they receive a host of benefits, such as unlimited wildcards and late tournament entries. Likewise they must fulfill a number of commitments, for example competing in a given number of tournaments.
The top 16 ranked players after the each year’s US Open are automatically selected as Gold Exempt performers for the following season. On 12 September 2005 Ana was ranked 18, so she had to rely on one of the four wildcards – a mark of the reverence the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour has for Ana.
“I cannot express enough my happiness becoming a Gold Exempt player after only one year competing on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour,” said Ana.
“It is certainly a privilege, but I cannot ignore the responsibilities. Hopefully I will not experience any major injuries which would unable me to fulfill all expectations and obligations.”
By Gavin Versi