DOHA, Qatar - With the WTA stars shining at the Qatar Total Open this week, we at wtatennis.com thought we'd look back at five of the best moments the WTA has had in the desert paradise of Doha...
5. The Middle Eastern Swing debuts (2001)
The Middle East had hosted a few WTA tournaments before, but it was in 2001 when the Middle Eastern swing - first stop Doha, second stop Dubai - made its debut on the WTA calendar. And in that first year it was then-World No.1 Martina Hingis who swept the swing, defeating Frenchwomen to win both titles - Sandrine Testud in the Doha final and Nathalie Tauziat in the Dubai final. "I am very happy with my two weeks here in the Middle East," the five-time Grand Slam champion remarked afterwards.
4. Li & Peng take China to new heights (2014)
We've seen history in the making just over the last few days, with two of China's very best about to make big moves. Li Na may not have won the title, but regardless of how she did she was going to rise from No.3 to No.2 in the world on next Monday's rankings, the highest ranking for an Asian player, male or female, in tennis history. And by virtue of her win with Hsieh Su-Wei on Thursday, Peng Shuai is set to become the World No.1 doubles player on Monday - the first Chinese World No.1 ever.
3. Serena's historic return to No.1 (2013)
It was almost taken away from her - she trailed 4-1 in the third set - but by coming back to beat Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open last year, Serena Williams secured a return to World No.1, making her the oldest World No.1 ever on the women's side - and she hasn't let go since. But she wouldn't end up winning the title that week - Victoria Azarenka beat her in the final, which was somewhat ironic given Azarenka was the player she was taking the No.1 ranking away from.
2. The WTA Championships heads to Doha (2008 to 2010)
For three years the WTA's crown jewel event descended on the state-of-the-art Khalifa International Tennis Complex, the first time it travelled outside the US and Europe - and it couldn't have had more popular champions, with Venus Williams winning in 2008, Serena Williams in 2009 and Kim Clijsters in 2010. One of the biggest fan favorites of the last decade also said goodbye to professional tennis at the WTA Championships here - Elena Dementieva, a former World No.3, retired here in 2010.
1. Shahar's Welcome (2008)
Doha has also been the site of breakthroughs that transcend sport - at the Qatar Total Open in 2008, Shahar Peer became the first Israeli ever to compete at a WTA tournament in the Arabian Peninsula, beating Andreja Klepac and Virginie Razzano in her first two rounds before falling to Li Na. The former No.11 may not have won the title, but the journey made her - and the tournament - big winners.
"I have been received with a lot of warmth by the people in Doha," Peer said about her trip to the Qatari capital. "I have been made to feel very welcome by everybody I have come across so far."