Sharapova to take over top ranking from retired Henin

Updated: May 15, 2008, 1:52 PM ET

LONDON, May 15 - Maria Sharapova will take over as world number one next week after Justine Henin asked to be removed from the rankings following her retirement, the governing body of women's tennis (WTA) said on Thursday.

Henin stunned the sporting world when she announced her retirement with immediate effect on Wednesday, becoming the first woman to quit tennis while ranked number one.

The Belgian holds a commanding 1,709-point lead over Australian Open champion Sharapova in this week's rankings.

Despite retiring, the 25-year-old would have held on to the top spot for several more weeks had she not wanted her name omitted from the list.

The WTA said Henin was currently in her 117th non-consecutive week in the top spot.

(Writing by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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