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Happy 30th B'Day, Caroline! Celebrating 10 of Wozniacki's best moments
Among them: Wozniacki, who retired in January, finally captured her maiden Grand Slam at the 2018 Australian Open—more than seven years after reaching No. 1 for the first time.
Published Jul 11, 2020
Today is Caroline Wozniacki’s 30th birthday. To honor her special day, we put together a list that looks back at 10 of her best career moments, from the early years to her resurgence to the top.
Just a few weeks after her 18th birthday, Wozniacki won her first WTA title at a small hard-court event in Stockholm, becoming the first Danish player to capture a WTA title. She made quick work of the field, too, winning all five of her matches in straight sets—and losing just 19 games across 10 sets. Two of the players she beat would become longtime rivals: Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska.
By the time the 2009 US Open came around, Wozniacki had six WTA titles to her name and she was ranked No. 8, but she had yet to go deep at a major. That all changed at Flushing Meadows as she battled into the final, becoming the first Danish player in the Open Era, male or female, to reach a major singles final. Her run would come to an end at the hands of a newly returned Kim Clijsters, 7-5, 6-3.
“I don’t like losing—I’m a competitor, and I love winning—but I’ve had some great weeks here,” Wozniacki said afterwards. “I mean, I was in the finals of a Grand Slam, and I’m only 19 years old.”
After an excellent first nine months of the 2010 season that brought her five more titles at Ponte Vedra Beach, Copenhagen, Montreal, New Haven and Tokyo, Wozniacki clinched the No. 1 ranking by beating Petra Kvitova in the third round of the China Open—she went on to win her first Premier Mandatory title in Beijing, and officially ascended to the top spot afterwards on October 11, 2010.
“Well, I’m very proud of the fact that I can call myself the No. 1 in the world now,” she said. “It’s an incredible feeling and something I’ve always worked to achieve, so I’m really happy about that.
“Definitely winning a Grand Slam is my next goal, now that I’ve achieved No. 1 in the world, one of my big dreams. But I’m still young, so I still have a lot of time ahead of me.”
It’s one thing to get to No. 1, but it’s another thing to finish the year there—and Wozniacki did it two years in a row. After winning six WTA titles in 2010, she won another six in 2011, including her second Premier Mandatory title at Indian Wells. She was also the tour’s match-win leader both years with 62 in 2010 and 63 in 2011. She’s the youngest player since 2000 to finish No. 1 in back-to-back seasons.
Serena Williams has winning records against just about every player she’s ever faced, and Wozniacki was no exception. While most of their matches were close, Serena is 10-1 in their head-to-head. But the Dane’s one victory came on one of the biggest stages out there, and at one of Serena’s best tournaments, no less—she upended the American in the quarterfinals of Miami in 2012, 6-4, 6-4.
“Serena has won so many Grand Slams and so many tournaments, something I would love to achieve one day, so to beat someone like her that I know never gives up means a lot to me,” she said. “There are some players if you lead 5-1 in the second set, you know that you’ve pretty much won the match. But against someone like Serena, you know you need to fight until the last point.”
The loss must have fired Serena up—she went 48-2 the rest of the year.
Wozniacki always lifted her game during the summer hard-court season, and she did so again in 2014, reaching the quarterfinals of Montreal and semifinals of Cincinnati—barely losing to Serena in both matches. Shen then returned to her second major final at the US Open, taking out an in-form Maria Sharapova along the way, before ultimately falling in straight sets to Serena, 6-3, 6-3.
“A lot has changed since my first US Open final five years ago. I would have loved to win today, but I didn’t. It was still a great two weeks. In the end I just played someone who played better than me.”
Wozniacki went through most of her career without actually beating any No. 1s. But that all changed in the summer of 2017 when she battled past then-No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals of Toronto. That opened the floodgates, as she scored three more wins over No. 1s over the next five months—one against Garbine Muguruza and the other two against Simona Halep.
Until the 2017 WTA Finals, Wozniacki’s biggest titles were a pair of Premier Mandatories. But she shone brightly in Singapore, bouncing back from a tight round-robin loss to Caroline Garcia to cruise through the rest of the week without even losing a set. She pulled off another milestone in the final against Venus Williams, overturning a 0-7 record and a single set won against the American to prevail, 6-4, 6-4.
Afterwards, Wozniacki was asked if her win at the 2017 WTA Finals could set her up to win her first Grand Slam title in 2018. Little did she know that first Grand Slam title was right around the corner.
“I’ll definitely try,” she said. “You know, I get this question all the time, but I just want to enjoy this win. Can we just enjoy this without talking about the future? I just want to be happy I won this one.
“In January we can talk about the Australian Open and everything else that’s coming up.”
Talk about resilience: Wozniacki arrived in Melbourne in 2018 as the player with both the most career WTA titles AND weeks at No. 1 to not have a major, and she also faced double match point down 5-1, 40-15 in the third set of her second round match against No. 119-ranked qualifier Jana Fett. But she rallied to win that one, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, and went all the way to the title, edging No. 1-ranked Halep in the final, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4. More than seven years after reaching No. 1, Wozniacki finally had a major.
“Being here tonight as a Grand Slam champion, it’s very special,” she said, the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup by her side. “Daphne here is going home with me tonight. I’ll be cuddling with her.”
On January 29, 2018—right after her fairytale run at Melbourne Park—Wozniacki returned to No. 1 for the first time since January 29, 2012, that six-year gap being the longest gap between stints at No. 1 in tennis history. Even more impressively, she had been ranked as low as No. 74 less than a year and a half before that. She would spend four more weeks at the top spot to bring her career tally to 71.
“Being a new Grand Slam champion AND World No. 1 sounds pretty good,” Wozniacki said.
“It’s a dream come true.”