Serena Williams Loses Semifinal & No. 1 Ranking

Serena Williams’ current stay at the top of women’s tennis will end on September 12th, 2016. Angelique Kerber will take over.

Angelique Kerber will be the new face of women’s tennis come Monday morning. The German, regardless of the result in the women’s final, will be the top-ranked player on the WTA Tour. Serena Williams fell in the semifinals of the 2016 US Open on Thursday, guaranteeing that Kerber’s ranking-points total following the event will be enough to see her supplant the American on top of the tennis world.

The German will join a lengthy list of great players, both retired and currently active. When she becomes the top-ranked player, Kerber will be the 22nd player to do so. How long her reign will last is not possible to calculate, however there are some things to consider.

For starters, I think Kerber will beat Karolina Pliskova in the US Open final. If the German does so then she will have a working margin on top of the rankings, which would look like this on Monday:

September 12, 2016 rankings if Kerber wins the 2016 US Open (top 5):

  1. Angelique Kerber, 8730 points
  2. Serena Williams, 7050 points
  3. Garbine Muguruza, 5830 points
  4. Agnieszka Radwanska, 5815 points
  5. Simona Halep, 4801 points

What’s important to note is that there is a lot of up side to Serena Williams’ ranking points total right now. The American was idle after the 2015 US Open and did not contest a match until Melbourne Park. That means that any tournaments she plays between now and the 2017 Australian Open represent a real opportunity to gain points back. If Serena decides to be active between now and the Aussie, then Kerber’s reign might be short-lived or maybe the two players might toggle between No. 1 and No. 2 for a while.

However, if Serena goes on hiatus for a few months then Kerber will likely stay on top of the world until at least the Australian Open. She’ll have a big defense there, as she was champion last year, so that’s where I see her becoming vulnerable again. But her post-US Open results from 2015 should not be too difficult for her to duplicate this season so long as she avoids injury.

Kerber will surely be a favorite at the Aussie if she enters healthy. However, if she suffered a bad loss and lost the No. 1 ranking at that point, then her reign would be 20 weeks. That would match the number of weeks that Kim Clijsters spent as the No. 1 player in the world, so Kerber is certainly entering good company.

Shane Lambert