At 35, Serena Williams is back on top after playing little in 2016 outside the Grand Slam events and losing the No. 1 ranking to Angelique Kerber, who defeated her in last year’s Australian Open final.
Williams appeared unaware that the ranking was at stake on Saturday. She looked shocked when it was announced on court that she would return to the top spot. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later explained, a tad sheepishly, that he had not answered truthfully when Serena inquired about the ranking. He said he wanted to avoid adding extra pressure to a tense occasion.
Serena Williams, citing a need to get healthy, ended her season in September last year after losing in the semifinals of the United States Open to Karolina Pliskova. In her return to the circuit earlier this month at a tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, she was upset in her second match by American Madison Brengle, making 88 unforced errors on a blustery day.
But Williams has proved time and again that she can click into a higher gear without much match play, and she impressively worked her way through a potentially challenging draw here. She beat four current or…