The California native won the US Open Wild Card Challenge by virtue of a title at the $60,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Lexington, Ky., the week of Aug. 6 and a quarterfinal run at another $60,000 event in Honolulu in July. She also competed in the Braidy Industries Tennis Classic in Ashland, Ky., in late July.
Entering the final week of the five-week challenge, the race for first place was wide open, as Muhammad did not enter the concluding event in Landisville, Pa. Over the course of the week in Pennsylvania, Gail Brodsky, Jessica Pegula and Kristie Ahn each had an opportunity to clinch the top spot with a match victory, but no one could get over the final hurdle.
The fight for a US Open wild-card spot went down to the wire, and Muhammad only clinched it when Ahn retired in the second set of Sunday’s final. Muhammad and Brodsky ended the challenge tied at the top of the standings, but Muhammad secured the wild card based on having a higher WTA singles ranking.
The 27-year-old’s US Open appearance will be just the second Grand Slam main-draw singles match of her career. She has had more success in doubles, competing in the US Open main draw four times and reaching the quarterfinals with Taylor Townsend in 2016. She has also competed in the doubles main draw at the Australian Open (2017) and French Open (2016, 2017).
Muhammad’s title in Lexington was her sixth career ITF singles title, and her second at the $60,000 level. Five of those six titles have come on hard courts, including her four most recent. 2018 is the first year in which she has won multiple singles titles, with a trophy at the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., in February preceding her Lexington triumph. She has also won two WTA doubles crowns and 27 ITF titles in her career, including four ITF doubles titles to date in 2018.
The Las Vegas resident has a career-high WTA singles ranking of No. 124, achieved in April 2017, and currently sits at No. 218, though she is a member of the Top 100 in doubles. She was last in the singles Top 200 in January, when she was ranked No. 165.
Muhammad now has a golden opportunity to boost that ranking, as she seeks the first Grand Slam singles victory of her career.