It's official - with the new WTA Rankings representing the two weeks of March 3 and March 10, 2014, Serena Williams will spend her 178th and 179th weeks as the No.1 player in the world, which means she will pass her childhood idol, Monica Seles, for fifth place on the all-time list for weeks at No.1.
"I never dreamed of this," Williams told wtatennis.com. "I remember when I passed her on the Grand Slams list it was really huge for me, because when you grow up watching someone and you're thinking, 'Oh my God, oh my God, they're so awesome,' to then be on their level is just pretty amazing.
"I never thought it would happen. I never even thought about it, really."
Just how much did Williams look up to Seles?
"Monica was my favorite player - I think she was pretty much everyone's favorite player," she said. "I wanted to be like her. I wanted to do everything like her. I even styled my grunt after hers - I kind of changed it and made it my own. But Monica always inspired me - I've always loved Monica."
"I've had the pleasure to play against Serena and it is so incredible to see what she has accomplished over the last 15 years," Seles said. "She has said in the past that my game was influential on hers and I couldn't be more proud and humbled that she was a fan of mine. I think Serena has a few more records that she will break in her amazing career and she is one of the best to ever play the game.
"I congratulate Serena on this impressive accomplishment."
Seles and Williams' careers overlapped directly between 1997 and 2001, as they played a total of five times in that span. Here's a brief look at all five of Serena and Seles' career meetings...
1997 Chicago Quarterfinals - Serena d Seles, 46 61 61
In the summer of 1997, Venus announced herself in New York City - in the fall of 1997, it was Serena's turn. Playing in just her second WTA-level main draw as a No.304-ranked wildcard, Serena made it all the way to the semifinals of the indoor event in Chicago, stunning Seles - who was ranked No.4 at the time - along the way. Afterwards she would say, 'When I was little, I always wanted to play Monica.'
1999 Miami Fourth Round - Serena d Seles, 62 63
Serena came into Miami on the heels of her first two WTA titles, at Paris [Indoors] and Indian Wells, and she extended her winning streak to 16 matches in a row as she made it all the way to the finals of Miami, where she fell to sister Venus. Seven of those 16 wins in a row came against Top 10 players, including then-World No.3 Seles - as well as No.1 and No.2, Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport.
1999 US Open Quarterfinals - Serena d Seles, 46 63 62
Serena won her first Grand Slam title at the 1999 US Open, and one of her biggest challenges came from Seles in the quarterfinals, where Seles was just a few games from winning in the second set before Serena pulled out the set - then pulled away in the third. "Venus and Serena are playing very well right now," Seles said afterwards, "I'd put them up there with Lindsay and Martina, who are playing some really good tennis, too." Serena beat Davenport and Hingis in the next two rounds for the title.
2001 Los Angeles Quarterfinals - Seles d Serena, 62 36 76(2)
Seles was in top form in the summer of 2001, and her first win over Serena was icing on the cake - though it could have gone either way. Seles had to fight off six match points, in two bunches too - she faced triple match point at 3-5 in the third set and another triple match point at 4-5. But she overcame it all, saving the last three with winners, and she ended up converting on her own first match point.
2001 Toronto Semifinals - Serena d Seles, 75 76(5)
Just eight days after Seles' electric win over her in Los Angeles, Serena got revenge in an absolute slugfest under the lights in Toronto. For two hard-fought sets the two traded huge serves and even bigger groundstrokes, with Serena just edging Seles in the end - and going on to win the Premier-level title the next day against another one of the WTA's all-time greatest players, Jennifer Capriati.