Garbine Muguruza will become the new WTA World No.1 when the updated rankings are released on Monday, September 11.
The 23-year-old reached the second week of the US Open for the first time this year before falling to Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, and has emerged on top of a field of eight women who could potentially have finished the tournament at No.1. Muguruza’s position was sealed after current No.1 and last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova fell to CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarter-finals, failing to defend her finalist points.
Muguruza becomes the second player representing Spain to achieve this historic milestone since the computer rankings were introduced in 1975, and would be the 24th woman overall to hold the No.1 ranking. She follows in the footsteps of compatriot Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, who held the top spot for 12 weeks across three separate spells in 1995.
Born in Venezuela, Muguruza moved to Spain in 1999 at the age of six. Her rise to the summit comes after her second Grand Slam title, which she won at Wimbledon in July, beating Venus Williams in the final.
She had previously won Roland Garros in 2016, when she became just the fifth woman to defeat Serena Williams in a major final.
Muguruza’s rise to WTA World No.1 brings an end to the reign of Czech Pliskova, who spent eight weeks in the position this summer.
Pliskova had been the runner-up in 2016 and her failure to defend those points means that Wimbledon champion Muguruza will take the top ranking for the first time despite the Spaniard losing in the last 16 in New York.
Vandeweghe’s victory means that the US Open will have an all-American semi-final line-up in New York for the first time since 1981 if Madison Keys defeats Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi later Wednesday.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 6, 2017
Venus Williams pondered 20 years of success and setbacks since reaching her first US Open final on Tuesday after moving one victory shy of another New York hard courts championship match.
The 37-year-old American, seeking her eighth Grand Slam title and third US Open crown, outlasted Czech 13th seed and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2).
Williams became the oldest US Open semi-finalist at 37 and the oldest in any Slam since Martina Navratilova in 1994 at Wimbledon.
US ninth seed Williams has the longest span between career Slam finals in women’s history, from the 1997 US Open to her Wimbledon loss to Garbine Muguruza in July.
Williams is set to jump into the WTA rankings top five for the first time since January 2011, her highest point since she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a strength-sapping ailment.
If she beats Sloane Stephens on Thursday to reach Saturday’s final, Australian Open and Wimbledon runner-up Williams will reach her third Slam final of the year, a feat she so far has only achieved in 2002.
“Early 2000s, I mean, I had perfect health. It was great. I loved it,” Williams said. “I was fortunate to have that moment in my life. And now I’m still living my dream, and it’s amazing.”
Williams won Wimbledon and the US Open in 2000 and 2001 and took three more trophies on England grass before 2011 and Sjogren’s arrived. It took her five years before she managed to reach another Slam semi-final.
“I don’t accept limitations. So it took a while to accept some limitations,” Williams said. “But it doesn’t mean that the glass is half empty. I saw it as half full.
“Whatever I had, I had to do the best I could with that and to be the strongest I could and be reprehensible for each and every shot I hit.”
Q. Could Venus win the next two matches?
PETRA KVITOVA: I think she can. I hope so, actually (smiling). #USOpen
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 6, 2017
Williams pondered how many WTA players have had to overcome setbacks and return to champion form and the inspiration it can provide.
“Sport is a little microcosm of life and it shows the human spirit, just being out there on the court, fighting against all odds. If you’re down, you keep going,” Williams said. “Great champions came back from injuries or circumstances they could never have planned for. It’s very encouraging for people to watch… You never know whose life you’ll touch just by being your best.”
Williams doesn’t believe in comparing matches or performances since what is needed for victory changes with every foe.
“I’m not into the whole best-match thing. It’s about winning the match you’re in,” she said. “Doesn’t matter whether you’re playing well or not playing well. It’s about figuring out how to win.
“If you’re out there thinking you have to play your best match every time, you’re not going to win these events. That’s too much of a high expectation.”
There are high expectations of another sort at the edge of her thoughts, with Hurricane Irma forecast to strike near her Florida home at the weekend.
“I haven’t watched Irma closely but perhaps I should know more,” Williams said. “I have a lot of family and important people in Florida and my whole life is there.”
But first, she will turn her attention to Stephens, who won their only prior meeting in the first round of the 2015 French Open.
“I have to focus on what’s happening on my side of the court, make evaluations when I’m out there in terms of strategy and see what’s working,” Williams said.