NEW YORK, NY, USA - Since Serena Williams left the tour to have a baby, there hasn’t been one player dominating women’s tennis. The two Grand Slams since she left have gone to Jelena Ostapenko and Garbine Muguruza, and even the three Premier Mandatory tournaments since then have gone to three different players - Elena Vesnina, Johanna Konta and Simona Halep.
The lack of one dominant force, and the depth of the rest of the field, has created an unprecedented situation for the next two weeks: eight different players have a shot at No.1 at the US Open.
And amazingly, at age 37 and more than 15 years since she last held it, Venus Williams is one of those eight players who could emerge from the last Grand Slam of the year as World No.1.
The other seven players are the current World No.1, Karolina Pliskova, as well as Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
It’s been an incredible year for seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus, reaching the 15th and 16th major finals of her career at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, where she was runner-up to Serena and Muguruza, respectively. They were her first major finals since 2009, and she’s now the second-oldest woman to reach a major final in the Open Era, after Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in ’94.
Even more good news: Venus, who spent 11 career weeks as the No.1 player in the world in the first half of the 2002 season, has a shot at getting back to the top of the rankings now. The not-so-good news: of the eight players in the running for No.1 in New York, she has by far the longest shot.
Venus would not only need to win the title, she would need Halep to lose first round, Muguruza to lose before the fourth round, Svitolina to lose before the semifinals and Pliskova to lose before the final.
If Venus - a two-time US Open winner in 2000 and 2001 - can make it happen, she’ll not only break the age record for a World No.1, which currently belongs to Serena at 35, but she’ll also have by far the biggest gap between stints at No.1 in WTA history at over 15 years. That current record also belongs to Serena, who went five years between stints at No.1 from August 2003 to September 2008.