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Tennis

Williams falls to Pliskova in semifinals, Kerber to become No. 1

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

For the first time since February 17, 2013, Serena Williams will wake up on Monday morning as something other than the top ranked player in the world.

Williams was overpowered on Thursday night in the U.S. Open semifinals by Karolina Pliskova, 6-2, 7-6 (5), which will result in her being passed in Monday’s rankings by Angelique Kerber, regardless of Kerber’s final result in the tournament.

Williams will cede the top spot one week shy of breaking Steffi Graf’s record 186 weeks at the top, though, in a strange twist, Pliskova’s win in the Cincinnati final over Kerber preserved Williams’ stay at the top long enough to at least tie the record. Williams is currently third in total weeks at the top, with 309, behind Graf’s 377 and Martina Navratilova’s 332, as well as tied for the Open Era record for Grand Slams with Graf at 22.

Kerber makes some significant history in taking over the No. 1 ranking:

-Oldest to debut at No. 1 by a wide margin. Kerber is 28, halfway to 29, while Jennifer Capriati was 25, halfway to 26, when she topped the rankings in 2001.

-Though a natural righty, she’s the third woman to play left-handed to ever reach No. 1, after Navratilova and Monica Seles, breaking a 20 year drought.

The year-end No. 1 ranking is still up for grabs, though that would require Williams to both be healthy (she discussed a knee injury in her post-match press conference) and elect to play in the fall, unlike last year, when she ended her season after losing in this same round of the U.S. Open last year.

Williams falls to Pliskova in semifinals, Kerber to become No. 1
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