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Top 10 Greatest Female Tennis Players In History

Tennis was populated with unbelievable female players from the early days and has continued to give birth to world sports superstars up to this day. Here are the names that are written in history forever.

Women started to compete in professional tennis close to a hundred years ago, back in 1926. The development was relatively slow, and the central organization supporting female tennis called the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) came to life in 1973. However, the sport was populated with unbelievable female players from the early days and has continued to give birth to world sports superstars up to this day. Here are the names that are written in history forever. 

10. Evonne Goolagong

Evonne Goolagong. Credit:Rob Mieremet / Anefo [CC0]

The definite reason why Evonne Goolagong made this list is that she played during the prime time of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. However, this did not stop this Australian player from grabbing 68 career titles during her pro career (1968-1983). Goolagong won 7 Grand Slam titles: four in Australia, two in England and one in France. 

In 1976 she even reached rank number 1, as she displayed a very graceful type of tennis during that season. Because of her remarkable career, Evonne Goolagong is a member of the Tennis Hall of Fame since 1988. 

9. Chris Evert

Chris Evert. Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

The Queen of the two-hand backhand, Chris Evert, born 1954 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, started her pro career in 1972. Until she retired in 1989, Evert has won 90.05% of her singles matches. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, she was a force to be reckoned with. 

Winning 157 titles in her career, Chris Evert dominated the female tennis for almost 10 years. Winning 18 Grand Slam titles: seven Roland Garros titles, six US Open’s, three Wimbledon’s, and another two in the Australian Open. Her rivalry with Martina Navratilova was something to be remembered for sure.

8. Billie Jean King

Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Billie Jean King pose before women final at US Open tennis tournament at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Coming from Long Beach, California, Billie Jean King played as a pro from 1968 to 1983. Her aggressive style of tennis contrasted the style of her biggest rival at the time, which was Chris Evert, who favored a very controlled base-line type of gameplay. 

Billie Jean King won 129 titles during her career, which include 12 Grand Slam titles. She was most successful in Wimbledon, where she took the title six times. King was not bad at the US Open hardcourt, where she was victorious for times. She has one win on both the Australian and French Open tournaments. 

7. Margaret Court

Stamp printed by Australia, shows Margaret Court with Wimbledon trophy, circa 2003. Credit: rook76 / Shutterstock.com

Playing as a pro from 1960 to 1970, this Australian tennis player holds 192 career titles to her name. Margaret Court took 24 Grand Slam titles: eleven in Australia, five in both France and the US, and another three in England. These statistics brought her into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979. 

Court dominated the female tennis for almost a whole decade, and she was a pioneer when it came to working with weights and fitness type of exercises in her training.

6. Martina Navratilova

Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova takes selfie with a tennis fan. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

This Czech born player has competed at the pro level from 1975 to 1994. During that period, Navratilova has won a staggering 167 titles, and 18 of those came from the Grand Slam tournaments. 

She is an absolute legend of Wimbledon, where she has won nine times. Another four titles came from winning the US Open. With three Australian Open’s and two Roland Garros trophies, she was accepted to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000. And to add up to these impressive numbers, Navratilova won 31 Grand Slam titles playing in doubles. Known for her powerful serve-to-volley style of play, Martina Navratilova goes down in history as one of the greatest.

5. Monica Seles

Monica Seles attends match between Rainn Wilson & Jason Biggs and Chris Evert & Monica Seles at USTA.Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Monica Seles has been a member of the Tennis Hall of Fames since 2009, only a year after she retired. This Serbian born player competed as a pro since 1989 and has 53 career titles to her name. Seles was a dominant force in female tennis during the early 1990s when she won a total of 9 Grand Slam titles, four Australian Open’s, three in Roland Garros, and another two in the US Open. 

Her career almost ended in 1993 in a shocking incident. During a match she played in Hamburg, Germany, Monica Seles was attacked by a delusional fan of Steffi Graf. Günter Parche came from the stands, ran towards Monica Seles in between two games, and stabbed her with a knife. Luckily, the injuries were not life-threatening, but it took two years before Seles returned to playing professional tennis.

4. Steffi Graf

Tennis great Stefanie 'Steffi' Graf attends 2013 Women Making A Difference Awards. Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

This German tennis player from Mannheim started her pro career in 1982 and retired in 1999. During that period, Graf has won an incredible 107 titles, and as much as 22 of those came from winning the Grand Slams. This Tennis Hall of Fame member has won the Wimbledon tournament seven times, just one less in the Roland Garros, five titles in the US Open, and finally, four Australian Open’s. 

In her 17 years of playing on a pro-level, Steffi Graf spent 377 weeks as number one on the WTA list, which is still a record to break, for male or female players.

3. Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis. Credit: Petr Toman / Shutterstock.com

Born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, in 1980, this Swiss tennis player held world rank 1 for 209 weeks. Martina Hingis started playing at a pro-level in 1994 and has retired just three years ago, in 2017. In a career that was full of ups and downs, Hingis has won a total of 45 WTA titles, and 5 of them were on Grand Slam tournaments: three wins in Australia, and one title in Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Injuries were an issue for Hingis, and she was completely absent from the WTA Tour between 2003 and 2005 due to operations she had to undergo. Unfortunately, Hingis was suspended in 2007 when she tested positive for cocaine. Although the concentration found was very low, she was banned from competing for two years.

2. Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova in her quarter final win over Ekaterina Makarova. Credit: Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is a Russian tennis player who also held number 1 rank in the WTA list. She has won all of the Grand Slam tournaments once, except for French Open, where she took the title in both 2012 and 2014. 

Ever since she turned pro in 2001, Sharapova has won 36 titles with total prize money estimated at $38,342,119. When she was only 18 years old, on the 22nd of August, 2005, she reached rank 1 in the world, making her the Russian player to climb to the top. There was a dark story behind her career when she failed a drug test during the Australian Open in 2016. She was banned from competing in WTA for 15 months and has claimed not guilty ever since.

1. Serena Williams

Grand Slam champion Serena Williams during fourth round match at US Open 2013. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

Serena Williams and her sister Venus have been at the very top of the world tennis from the late 1990s. Serena Williams turned pro all the way back in 1995 and is still active in the WTA Tour. Serena’s statistics are so impressive, one could not be blamed if they called her the greatest of all times. 

In her career, Serena Williams has won a mind-blowing 72 titles, and 23 of those came from Grand Slam tournaments. She has won seven times on both Wimbledon and Australian Open, six titles came on her home ground tournament US Open, and another three in France where she took the Roland Garros titles. She has also won 14 Grand Slam double’s titles, where she competed alongside her sister, Venus Williams.

How old was Maria Sharapova when she reached the number 1 spot in the world?

She was only 18 years old when, on the 22nd of August, 2005, she reached rank 1 in the world, making her the Russian player to climb to the top.

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