Serena Williams has vowed to cling to the world number one ranking but questions may be asked about her claim to that status if Angelique Kerber takes her scalp in today’s Wimbledon final.
American Williams was fiercely critical of the Women’s Tennis Association ranking system seven years ago, after landing the Wimbledon title meant she owned three grand slams but still sat at number two, behind the major-less Russian Dinara Safina.
And if German left-hander Kerber adds Wimbledon’s Venus Rosewater Dish to her Australian Open title, then she will be the owner of two slams yet stand adrift of Williams, who will be the holder of none, on the WTA computer.
After landing the third of her six Wimbledon titles in 2009, Williams said: “I’d rather definitely be number two and hold three grand slams in the past year than be number one and not have any.”
She heads into today’s final against Kerber as firm favourite, but that was the case in Australia at the start of the year when Kerber upset her in the final. It was the case in Paris last month as Garbine Muguruza caused a Roland Garros title match shock, and it was emphatically so at the US Open last September when Williams, hunting a calendar grand slam, was ousted by Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals.
Lose on Centre Court and Williams will be without a singles grand slam for the first time in four years.
The 34-year-old takes pride in sitting top of the rankings, which is where she is guaranteed to stay for a 178th consecutive week when the new list is published on Monday, however today plays out.
“It is significant to me,” Williams said. “No-one wants to give it up when they have it. Obviously I have a lot of tough competition. I am going to have to work really hard, be really determined, especially with this summer coming up, to hold on to it.”
Kerber celebrated her Australian Open win with a dip in Melbourne’s Yarra River, but when asked if she would be tempted by the Thames, she said: “I think this time, no.”
The 28-year-old has always dreamt of following fellow compatriot Steffi Graf onto the Wimbledon roll of honour, and spent time with her in Las Vegas in late March, practising with Graf and the 47-year-old’s husband Andre Agassi.
Kerber said: “She has always been my idol, she still is my idol, but I want to go my own way and I’ll try to win my finals like she won her finals.
“I’m trying to keep loyal to my own style. I’m not going to change anything about that and I know that right from the start I have to get Serena moving. I hope I can beat her again.”
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