Professional tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, celebrates as she...

Professional tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, celebrates as she crosses the finish line during the Pro Women's division during the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Trautwig

Caroline Wozniacki has battled tennis opponents for hours in her stellar professional career, beating Maria Sharapova in 3 hours, 15 minutes in Singapore just last week.

On Sunday in New York City, she did something completely different in 3 hours, 26 minutes, 33 seconds. That was her time in the New York City Marathon, her first marathon, the first time that a professional athlete at the height of a career had ever attempted such a daunting undertaking.

Wozniacki long ago earned the nickname "Sunshine'' for her glowing smile and sparkling personality. That smile spanned the five boroughs Sunday and left her with a sparkling sense of accomplishment.

"I've never tried anything this hard," Wozniacki said. "This is the toughest physical test ever . . . I'm so happy to have done this. I'm so proud to have this medal. I've done the New York City Marathon, and I've done it in a cool time."

Waiting for her at the finish line was close friend and professional nemesis Serena Williams, who beat Wozniacki in the Singapore final Oct. 25 and in the U.S. Open final in September. It was Williams who gave her the marathon medal.

"I think she said I'm proud of you, well done, great job," Wozniacki said. "But I was so exhausted, I don't really know. She hugged me and gave me the medal."

Wozniacki had never run the marathon distance of 26 miles, 385 yards. Running has been part of her training for ages, but a 5-kilometer run usually was sufficient for tennis fitness and a way to get away from the game and clear her mind.

Leading up to New York, she had never run more than about a half marathon, and after arriving in New York, she didn't put the pedal to the metal.

She and Williams went to the Rangers-Jets game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. "You are supposed to load up on carbs, but I didn't really have too much time for that," Wozniacki said. "I didn't have breakfast. Then I had two bagels in the tent before I went out there."

She was running for the Team for Kids charity, an organization that promotes physical fitness programs, and she said that at last count, she had raised more than $81,000, including what she called a big donation from Williams.

"I wouldn't have done this without the charity, being able to help kids," Wozniacki said. "That's what I'm so passionate about."

Her passion was mixed with a certain amount of agony during the race, especially at the 20-mile mark. She had a goal of running in 3:30, a lofty ambition.

"I told my pacers, Michael and John, after 15 kilometers that I have to do this again. They said don't say that yet, you have a long way to go. After 20 miles, six miles left, I said I never want to run another marathon.

"I sort of changed my tune. I just kept grinding out there, I've made it so far, I have to finish now. The last mile or two was really, really tough. Once I saw the finish line, I started sprinting."

She was only an hour and change behind the top professional women runners and beat major champion Amelie Mauresmo's time of 3:40:26 set at the 2010 New York City Marathon (Mauresmo was retired as a player by then).

"I think I beat her time here, didn't I?" Wozniacki said. "Wow, I did beat her time. I'm so proud of that."

Top Stories

ONE-DAY SALE26¢ for 5 6 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME