NEW YORK — When she stepped on the court Thursday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Angelique Kerber had already achieved a childhood dream.
It ended Williams’ run of 186 consecutive weeks at the top of women’s tennis — leaving her tied, appropriately enough, with another German, Steffi Graf, for the all-time record.
How do you play a major semifinal match 20 minutes after you’ve reached the pinnacle of a sport you’ve played since the age of 3? It would have been easy to revel in the moment, take a moment to reflect on the wonder of joining a most exclusive peer group that features only 22.
And that should be the big takeaway here.
As we’ll begin to realize in retrospect, Serena’s command of the top spot, at the age of 34, was nothing short of amazing.
Consider this number, produced by ESPN Stats Info:
In the more than three years she was No. 1, Williams won more titles (24) than lost matches (19).
Fun Fact: Kerber is the first lefty No. 1 since Monica Seles (1996), and only the third overall, after Martina Navratilova.
Against Wozniacki, whose ranking has fallen to No. 74, Kerber was comfortably dominant, winning 65 of 117 points. She broke Wozniacki’s serve no fewer than five of 10 times.
The only sign of nerves? When Kerber tried to serve out the match at 5-2.
On match point, Kerber’s forehand was called good, but looked out. Wozniacki, for whatever reason, did not challenge. The replay, however, showed the shot was out.
“It’s just incredible,” Kerber said. “Yeah, it’s a great day. I just tried to focus on this match.
“To be in the final, to be No. 1 in the world, it sounds amazing.”