Tennis-New WTA chairman Allaster defends rankings system

LONDON, July 13 Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:28pm BST

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LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) - New WTA Tour chairman Stacey Allaster defended the controversial women's rankings system following her appointment on Monday.

Russian Dinara Safina has risen to world number one despite not winning a grand slam title and American Serena Williams criticised the rankings after claiming her 11th major crown at Wimbledon this month.

"It's a 52-week ruling average and it's a combination of the grand slams and tour events. Without question, based on the ranking system, with consistent performance at the slams and at the tours, Dinara Safina is the number one player," Allaster told Reuters.

World number two Williams said she "didn't even care anymore" about the rankings.

"I think this ranking debate is not new, it has gone on for several years," Allaster said.

"Every fan has their own (ranking) measure, what we know is that we have a system... (Safina) has had a great season and she will win a grand slam I have no doubt in my mind."

The former WTA president has identified the digital expansion of tennis as a key goal.

"We just re-launched our new website, our China version will follow in the next six to eight weeks, by year-end we'll have our Spanish website up and running, so as an organisation we have been investing in digital and I see it as a strategic priority going forward," she said.

The 46-year-old said she was also supremely confident about the strength of women's tennis.

"We have great depth, we have Venus and Serena, who are still playing and dominating extremely well at this stage in their careers," she said.

"We've got Maria Sharapova, a champion who is on her way back, and we've got Elena Dementieva and some young new bright stars coming. The depth is there."

(Editing by Ed Osmond; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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