Without hitting a backhand or blazing serve, Serena Williams finished the WTA season as the No. 1-ranked player. It is her fourth time atop the women’s tennis world.
At 33, it is an impressive feat for this year’s U.S. Open champion. She advanced to the semifinals of the WTA Finals and earned the top spot after the fallout from the rest of the tournament.
Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova blew their chances to assume the top spot. Ivanovic had a shot at reaching the semis, and Sharapova had a slimmer chance at the top ranking. Both won dramatic three-setters, but they needed to win in two, and were eliminated.
By the end of the final day of group games, Saturday’s semifinals were set: Williams will meet Caroline Wozniacki, and Simona Halep will battle Agnieszka Radwanska.
Sharapova needed to win in straight sets to advance, and had to win the title if she was to topple Williams from the top of the rankings.
Sharapova inexplicably collapsed from a set and 5-1 up, missing three match points and losing the second set in a tiebreak to Radwanska. The Russian ultimately prevailed 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in over three hours, but that was not enough, while Radwanska qualified for the semis despite a 1-2 group-stage record.
Radwanska was helped by Wozniacki beating Kvitova 6-2, 6-3. Kvitova would have progressed had she won.
Ivanovic had to beat Halep in straight sets to advance and knock out Williams. That looked unlikely when Halep came out to serve for the first set at 5-2, yet Ivanovic won four successive games and saved a set point in the tiebreak to win it 7-6 (7).