Professional tennis is sport deeply rich with unforgettable matches and moments from no shortage of legendary women. To narrow a list down to the five greatest in the game may feel like an impossible task to many fans. For decades we have been fortunate to watch some of the most gifted athletes step foot on the court and serve us memories that will stand the test of time. So we turn to the experts when it comes to asking the question: who are the best women’s tennis players of all time?
Now, if you’re a fan of tennis, whether it’s men’s or women’s, you’re familiar with all of the grunting associated with a high-octane, competitive match. The grunting in tennis has even gotten to a point where it has come under intense scrutiny from spectators and fans who find these noises obnoxious. Some fans even compare tennis grunts to a “shrieking” or “shrilling” that takes away from the joys of spectating.
Despite how the fans feel about it, did you know that tennis players’ grunts can accurately predict who will win the match? It might sound hard to believe, but researchers from the University of Sussex found a difference in the grunts of tennis match winners and losers. The study says that tennis players are more likely to lose a match when they grunt at a higher pitch as opposed to the grunts they give off during a victory.
Although this sounds like a great way to make some in-game wagers, tennis is a harder sport to predict than you might think. Another study reports that female tennis players are less likely to “choke” or be upset by a lower-seeded player. Upsets happen in tennis all the time, but according to researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, female tennis stars are less prone to suffering an upset.
Now, there have been some impressive women’s tennis champions over the last century, so we’ll spare you more of the stats and studies. StudyFinds did the research, reviewing 10 sports and tennis websites in an effort to find the best women’s tennis players of all time. As always, feel free to share your knowledge of the best players of all time with us in the comments section below!
The List: Best Women’s Tennis Players, According to Sports Experts
1. Serena Williams
Without a doubt, the top spot on the list of best women’s tennis players of all time goes to Serena Williams. Serena is one of the most popular athletes in the world, an easy choice for one of the best tennis players in history, and her name litters the tops of the expert lists we consulted. In fact, 80 percent of the expert sites we referenced had Serena Williams listed as the best women’s tennis player of all time.
“Serena is undoubtedly one of the all-time greatest female tennis players. With 23 Grand Slam Singles titles, including 7 Australian, 3 French, 6 US Open and 7 Wimbledon title[s] she [has] the most Grand Slam winners after Margaret Court,” explains Sports XM.
Serena is perhaps the one player on this list that can be referred to using only her first name and most everyone knows exactly who you’re talking about. Still, there’s no doubt that Serena earned this level of popularity on the court.
“There is no arguing that Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player of all time. With the record-holding 23 Grand Slam titles to her name, it’s hard to not put her at the No.1 spot. Serena has solely dominated women’s tennis for over a decade and is still competing at the very highest level at the age of 38,” adds Tennis Predict.
Serena Williams has been playing tennis since she was a teenager, and that means there are generations of tennis fans and aspiring players who’ve grown up watching her dominate.
“In her career that has now spanned across four decades, Serena has won a total of 23 Grand slam singles titles – the most by any tennis player in the Open Era. Perhaps more importantly, she is only one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles,” explains Sportskeeda.
2. Steffi Graf
The next player on the list of the best women’s tennis players of all time is Steffi Graf. The German-born Steffi Graf was ranked the top female tennis player in the world for over 300 consecutive weeks. Steffi Graf appeared at the top of most of the expert lists we consulted, never being ranked lower than third.
“For those who aren’t quite convinced Serena Williams is number one all-time just yet, the most mentioned name is Steffi Graf. She was able to have a ton of success in the 1990s in particular, but it was 1988 where she first made a huge splash,” writes Tennis Predict.
What Steffi Graf did in the ’80s hasn’t been duplicated since. “In 1988, Graf became the first and only tennis player to achieve the Calendar Year Golden Slam by winning all 4 Grand Slam titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year,” explains Sports XM.
“Graf is the only player to have won every Grand Slam at least four times each. She won Wimbledon seven times, the U.S Open five times, the Australian Open four times and the French Open six times en route to her 22 Grand Slam singles titles,” adds Bleacher Report.
3. Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova had one of the most storied careers of any women’s tennis player in history, and her name never appeared lower than fourth across any of the sites we visited. Navratilova is most known for her absolutely epic rivalries with Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.
“Martina Navratilova is widely known for her competitiveness and physical prowess during the 70s and 80s in women’s tennis. There was nobody who could compete with her at her peak as she dominated women’s tennis,” writes Sports Khabri.
If a tennis player wants to be considered one of the best players of all time, they need to perform on the biggest stage – Wimbledon. “[Navratilova] was the undisputed Queen of Wimbledon, winning the competition a record nine times. She achieved three of the six longest winning streaks in female tennis history, and recorded the longest winning streak in tennis history, women and men’s, with a run of 74 wins on the bounce,” writes Bleacher Report.
For anyone who didn’t get to watch Martina Navratilova play, she was physically and athletically gifted beyond description. “Martina was a physical specimen. She was lean, athletic, and had the stamina for days. She also proved that the volley and big serves belonged in women’s tennis as well as men’s,” explains Tennis Lovers.
Perhaps most impressive was Navratilova’s ability to play singles and doubles tennis at such a high level. Her ability to acclimate her game to suit either style of play was unmatched. “Martina’s Grand Slam totals, including doubles and mixed doubles, come in at a mind-blowing 59. Martina proved to be just as dominant as a doubles player as she was a singles player, and that is no small feat,” adds Tennis Lovers.
4. Margaret Court
She may not be as well-known as some of the others, but she definitely deserves a spot on the list. Margaret Court is a tennis legend who played during an era when female athletes weren’t offered the same publicity opportunities as their male counterparts. Still, Margaret Court’s record on the court speaks for itself.
“Margaret Court is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats of women’s tennis. She was the first woman in the Open era to win the singles Grand Slam title in 1970, and she is one of only two women to have won a Grand Slam in mixed doubles, which she did twice,” explains Sports Khabri.
Margaret Court played a whopping 17 years as one of the best women’s tennis players in the world. During this time, Court amassed an impressive number of career wins.
“This legendary tennis player turned pro in 1960 before retiring in 1977. She enjoyed one of the most dominant spells in tennis history, winning 192, yes 192, career titles, including 24 Grand Slams. She enjoyed the most success on home soil, as she won the Australian Open 11 times,” explains Tennis Lovers.
Margaret Court was also an innovator when it came to the way she trained and prepared for the rigors of the tennis court, and she helped pave the way for future generations of tennis stars. “Undoubtedly the best player in the 1960s to early 1970s, Court was the first woman to incorporate weights and fitness training into her routine. The result was a long and injury-free career,” adds How They Play.
5. Chris Evert
Rounding out the list of the best women’s tennis players of all time is Chris Evert. Evert was a dominant player in her day and her rivalry with Martina Navratilova was so intense that it even sparked ESPN to create a documentary about it.
“Chris Evert holds the record for reaching the most Singles Grand Slam finals, with 34, having managed to win 18 of them which included each major at least twice. Her dominance in women’s tennis was truly amazing, and she was ranked as the No. 1 player at the year end for seven years,” explains Sports Khabri.
Evert took part in one of the best sports rivalries in history, not just tennis. Evert’s competitiveness on the court was a joy to watch even though she wasn’t always the one coming out on top.
“Evert was involved in a few big rivalries in her career, but perhaps the biggest, and maybe one of the biggest of all time, was against Martina Navratilova. Had it not been for her, Evert would no doubt top this list. They met 13 times in finals, on every type of surface, with Evert only managing to win three of those duels,” writes Bleacher Report.
One aspect of Evert’s game that made her so dominant was her ability to play at a high level on a variety of surfaces. Despite her unassuming physical appearance, Evert was a force to be reckoned with on a tennis court.
“Chris Evert, on film, doesn’t look like anyone too intimidating. She didn’t hit hard, she was relatively small for a tennis player and she had a pretty laid-back demeanor. However, in her time, she was a dominant player who could win on any surface,” explains Tennis Predict.
- Bleacher Report
- How They Play
- Tennis Lovers
- Tennis Predict
- Sports XM
- Give Me Sport
- Sports Unfold
- Sports Pundit
- Sports Khabri
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