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Ranking the top 10 greatest women's tennis players of all time

There have been so many great women players over the last 50 years of the Open Era. Here in this article, we are ranking the top 10 greatest women's tennis players of all time.

Last updated: 05.11.2022
greatest women tennis players of all time

Selecting the top 10 of anything can be a difficult and subjective task. There have been so many great women players over the last 50 years of the Open Era, and this doesn't even take into consideration the great players from the early 20th century. Changes in fitness regimes, nutrition, and racket technology over the years have only served to complicate an already difficult task. As difficult as it was to choose the top 10 all-time greatest male tennis players.

Check out here the top 10 greatest women’s tennis players of all time:

10. Martina Hingis

With 5 Grand Slam singles titles and 209 weeks ranked number one in the world, Martina Hingis makes a strong argument to be ranked in the top 10 all-time. Factor in her 13 Grand Slam Doubles titles, 7 Mixed Doubles titles, and her 2 Tour Finals titles, and it’s hard to exclude the Swiss star. Her singles career was relatively short due to injuries and her first retirement came in 2003 at just 22 years of age. Had she remained healthy, she certainly would have contended for many more Grand Slam singles titles. Martina was able to extend her tennis career by playing mostly doubles and had great success with 3 Grand Slam Doubles titles in 2017, her final year in competitive tennis.

9. Evonne Goolagong

Often overlooked because she played during the Chris Everett and Martina Navratilova era, Goolagong was the epitome of grace and beauty on the court. Despite playing during one of the most competitive periods in women’s tennis, Goolagong was still able to win seven Grand Slam titles. In 1976, she was ranked number one in the world. She has the distinction of being the only mother since before World War I to have won Wimbledon, having won the title in 1980 after giving birth to her daughter in 1977. The only Grand Slam title to elude her was the US Open, where she reached the finals in four consecutive years, 1973-1976.

8. Justine Henin

Known for her mental and physical toughness, Justine Henin was one of the most athletic women to ever play the game. Despite her small stature, she packed a powerful punch and played a complete game that included a powerful serve and a forehand shot that she hit with both power and accuracy. Known as one of the best volleyers in the game, Henin was as comfortable at the net as from the baseline. In 2003, she achieved the number one ranking in the world, having won both the French Open and the US Open. In 2004, Henin won the Gold Medal at the Athens Olympics to go along with her first Australian Open title. She won seven Grand Slam titles in her career, but she retired abruptly in 2008 citing burnout from over 20 years of competitive tennis. A brief comeback in 2010 was short-lived, and she retired for good in early 2011.

7. Venus Williams

If not for having to compete against her sister Serena, Venus Williams may very well have had many more Grand Slam titles to her name. The sisters have gone head-to-head in a Grand Slam final nine times with Serena winning seven of those matches. While Venus’s career has been fraught with injuries, there is no doubt that in the early 2000s she was the woman to beat on tour. Between 2000 and 2001, Venus captured four of her seven Grand Slam victories. In 2002, she finally attained the number one ranking in the world, a spot she would capture on three separate occasions. Wimbledon has been Venus’ favorite court as she has won five titles there, the last coming in 2008.

6. Monica Seles

Were it not for the unfortunate on-court attack and stabbing by a deranged fan in 1993, Monica Seles would certainly have gone on to win more Grand Slam titles. Her epic battles with Steffi Graf were classics, and we the fans were deprived of some great matches because of one fan's sick obsession. While Monica did return to tennis two years after the incident, she was never quite the same. To her credit, she did go on to win the 1996 Australian Open, her only post-attack Grand Slam victory. Monica continued to play until 2003 and officially retired in 2008. There is no doubt that Monica Seles was the most dominant player from 1990 to 1992. During this time, she won seven of her nine Grand Slam Titles. In 1991, she was the top-ranked woman in the world.

5. Chris Evert

She was a machine from the baseline, and with that two-handed backhand shot, she dominated women’s tennis from the mid-1970s into the early 1980s. Evert still holds the record for reaching the most Grand Slam singles finals with 34, and she managed to win 18 of them, including every major at least twice. When Martina Navratilova came along in the late 1970s, it provided fans with a great on-court rivalry. Evert was the year-ending number one player in the world for seven years and had a career-winning percentage in singles matches of over 90 percent.

4. Margaret court

There are many experts out there who feel that Margaret Court is the best player of all time. With a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, it’s hard to argue. Add in her 19 doubles and 19 mixed doubles titles and Court has a record 62 Major titles to her credit. She was the first woman in the Open Era to win the singles Grand Slam in 1970, and she is one of only two women (Daniela Hantuchova being the other) to have won a Grand Slam in mixed doubles, which she did twice. 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.

3. Martina Navratilova

One of the toughest competitors to ever grace the court, Martina Navratilova dominated women’s tennis from the late 1970s through a good portion of the 1980s. Known for her extreme physical conditioning, Martina brought the big serve and volley back to the women’s game. She holds the Open Era record for career titles with 167 and has 59 total Grand Slam titles, which include singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Martina also holds the record for career Wimbledon titles with an amazing nine championships. She will be remembered as one of the greatest doubles players ever, having won 31 Grand Slam Doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles.

2. Steffi Graf

Able to win on all surfaces, Steffi Graf was a model of consistency throughout her 17-year career. Her record of 377 weeks ranked as number one in the world is a record for any player, male or female. In 1988, Graff became the first player to achieve what is regarded as the calendar year Golden Slam by winning all four majors plus the Olympic Gold Medal in the same year, a remarkable feat. From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, there was no one better than Graf, and when she retired in 1999, she was still ranked number three in the world. Were it not for the long and storied career of Serena Williams, the case would be made for Graf as the greatest of all time. While many will continue to debate Steffi versus Serena as the greatest female player of all time, they were both incredible players who dominated their era and advanced women's tennis.

1. Serena Williams

As one of the strongest and most powerful women to ever play the game, Serena Williams has certainly left her mark on tennis. Serena and her sister, Venus, have been a dominant force in women’s tennis since the late 1990s. Together, they have won 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles. With 23 Grand Slam Singles titles, including the 2017 Australian Open, Serena now owns the Open Era record for Grand Slam singles titles by a tennis player, male or female. Serena’s game has certainly withstood the test of time and competition. Her Grand Slam titles have come over an 18-year period starting in 1999, with her latest victory coming at the 2017 Australian Open. Out of competitive tennis for most of 2017 while pregnant, Serena reached 4 Grand Slam finals without securing that coveted 24th title to tie Margaret Court, before retiring after the 2022 US Open.

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