2011 Wimbledon

Martina Navratilova and the Top 10 Women’s Grass Court Players of All Time

Jaideep VaidyaAnalyst IJune 14, 2011

Martina Navratilova and the Top 10 Women’s Grass Court Players of All Time

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    Jul 1990:  Martina Navratilova of the USA holds up the winners'' plate after winning the Wimbledon Championships played at Wimbledon, London, England.  \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has played host to some of the finest grass court players in the history of the game.

    The ladies who have taken part in the Championships, ever since its inception in the latter part of the 19th century, have become monumental figures and are forever listed in the pantheon of the game.

    Here's a list of the ten most successful women at the Championships so far:

10. Chris Evert

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    JUL 1974:  CHRIS EVERT OF THE UNITED STATES HOLDS THE LADIES SINGLES PLATE ALOFT AFTER WINNING ON THE CENTRE COURT AT WIMBLEDON.
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1974, 1976, 1981

    Doubles Champion: 1976

    Chris Evert made her debut at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 1972 where she lost in the semifinals to Evonne Goolagong.

    Evert won her first of three Wimbledon singles titles two years later and went on to feature in all Wimbledon championships till 1989. She also made 10 finals during that period.

    Evert was more successful on the clay and hard courts, where she won 15 out of her 18 Grand Slams. But her performance on grass wasn't far behind.

    In the 17 Wimbledon championships she contested in her career, Evert made the semifinals on all but one occasion (1983).

9. Elizabeth Ryan

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    Picture Courtesy: www.toptenz.net
    Picture Courtesy: www.toptenz.net

    Doubles Champion: 1914, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1930, 1933, 1934

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1919, 1921, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932

    Elizabeth Ryan was an American tennis player who won 30 Grand Slam titles in her time, all of which were in the doubles and mixed doubles. Nineteen of those titles came at Wimbledon.

    Ryan never won a singles title in her life, but she reached the finals on two occasions—losing out to Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills Moody.

    Lenglen was Ryan's partner in the doubles event and the pair went on to record a 31-0 win-loss record at Wimbledon.

    Ryan died on the grounds of her beloved Wimbledon at age 87, one day before Billie Jean King broke her record of 19 titles.

8. Margaret Court

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    Undated:  Margaret Court serves during a Tennis match. \ Mandatory Credit: Tony  Duffy/Allsport
    Tony Duffy/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1963, 1965, 1970

    Doubles Champion: 1964, 1969

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1975

    Australian Margaret Court holds the record for the highest number of Grand Slams amassed by a player—62 (24 singles, 19 doubles and 19 mixed doubles).

    Ten of those titles came at the Championships, including three singles titles.

    The 1970 singles final between Court and Billie Jean King is regarded as one of the best women's finals at the Championships. Court battled her injured ankle and King and for an epic two hours and 27 minutes to finally prevail 14-12, 11-9.

    Court, true to her name, was a prolific all-court player. She was the first woman in the Open era to complete the career Grand Slam and boasts a 91.74 winning percentage on all surfaces.

7. Serena Williams

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Serena Williams of USA lifts the Championship trophy after winning her Ladies Singles Final Match against Vera Zvonareva of Russia on Day Twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croq
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010

    Doubles Champion: 2000, 2002, 2008, 2009

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1998

    Serena Williams' first taste of glory at the Championships came in 1998 in the mixed doubles event where she partnered with Max Mirnyi to take the title.

    After winning her first doubles title at the tournament with sister Venus in 2000, Serena went on to beat her elder sibling in back-to-back singles finals in 2002 and 2003. She also won the "Serena Slam" in 2002 by collecting all four Grand Slam trophies at once.

    Serena was all set to complete a hat trick in 2004 but lost to 17-year-old Maria Sharapova in one of the most shocking upsets in the tournament's history.

    It took her four injury-plagued years to make a return to the Wimbledon final in 2008 where she lost to Venus. Serena got back at her sister the following year and went on to win consecutive titles again.

    Serena hasn't played a competitive match after her 2010 Wimbledon triumph due to injury and illness. But she's back from her long layoff to try and defend her crown this year.

6. Venus Williams

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    LONDON - JULY 05:  Venus Williams of United States celebrates winning the Championship trophy during the women's singles Final match against Serena Williams of United States on day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn
    Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008

    Doubles Champion: 2000, 2002, 2008, 2009

    Venus Williams has been featured in eight Wimbledon singles finals in the last 10 years, winning  five of them. Her three losses have come against younger sister Serena Williams.

    She also shares four Wimbledon doubles titles with her sister, taking their overall tally to 18 trophies at SW19.

    Venus last won the singles event in 2008 and will be keen to hold the aptly titled Venus Rosewater Dish for the sixth time in her career.

5. Steffi Graf

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    6 Jul 1996:  Steffi Graf of Germany once again holds the womens singles trophy after her straight sets victory over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain during the Wimbledon tennis championships at the all England Club in London, England.Mandatory Credit: Cli
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996

    Doubles Champion: 1988

    Steffi Graf, considered the greatest women's tennis player of all time, won seven Wimbledon singles titles in her highly illustrious career.

    Her first triumph at the Championships came in 1988 when she beat Martina Navratilova in the final 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Graf then went on to bag the Golden Slam that year by winning all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold medal.

    Graf was world No. 1 for a record 377 weeks and won 22 Grand Slam singles titles in her career, second only to Margaret Court.

    Graf's last appearance at Wimbledon was in the 1999 final where she lost to Lindsay Davenport.

4. Suzanne Lenglen

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    ANTWERP, BELGIUM - APRIL 20:  Suzanne Lenglen of France competes in the Women?s tennis event during the VII Olympic Games circa April of 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium.  (Photo by Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925

    Doubles Champion: 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1920, 1922, 1925

    Suzanne Lenglen, or La Divine as she was known as, was truly a divine presence on the tennis courts in the 1920s. Known for her modish dresses and elegant personality, Lenglen was quite the celebrity, who revitalized the game in her prime years. She even revitalized herself in between games by sipping brandy and water.

    At 20 years of age, Lenglen entered the 1919 Wimbledon Championships as a debutante and went on to win the title by defeating the defending champion Dorothea Lambert Chambers.

    Lenglen then went on to win five more Wimbledon singles and doubles titles each during the next six years.

    Her Wimbledon endeavours came to a cruel end in 1926 when she withdrew from the tournament after facing flak from the crowd for dishonouring the Queen by arriving late following some miscommunication regarding the timings.

    Lenglen also won six French Open titles in her career and was honoured with the naming of the second court at Roland Garros after her.

3. Helen Wills Moody

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    1924: Helen Wills Moody runs to the ball during a match circa 1924  in Paris, France. Helen Wills Moody wins the gold for womens singles event. (Photo by Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1938

    Doubles Champion: 1924, 1927, 1930

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1929

    Helen Wills Moody is the woman who carried forward Suzanne Lenglen's legacy in the post-World-War I era. 

    The quiet and reserved American, known as "Little Miss Poker Face," was famous for her legendary concentration and showing of absolutely no emotion on the court. 

    Moody won her first Wimbledon title in 1927—the year in which she also started her record of unbeaten streak without dropping a single set that lasted until 1932 and spanned 180 matches. Moody pocketed five Wimbledons, four U.S. Opens and four French Opens in that period.

    Moody was world No. 1 for eight years of her 15-year career in which she bagged 31 Grand Slams, including eight Wimbledon titles.

    She had a simple mantra and that was to play every shot in the match.

2. Billie Jean King

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    Jun-Jul 1975:  Billie Jean King of the USA holds the trophy aloft after the Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon in London. King won the Women's Singles event. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1975

    Doubles Champion: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1979

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1967, 1971, 1973, 1974

    Billie Jean King has been rightly called "the most dynamic and prolific winner ever to play at Wimbledon" in the official history of the Championships.

    She won six Wimbledon singles titles between 1966 and 1975, along with ten doubles titles and four mixed doubles triumphs in her glorious Wimbledon career.

    After debuting at Wimbledon in the doubles event in 1961, King went on to win 95 singles, 74 doubles and 55 mixed doubles matches in a span of 22 years, losing just 41 matches.

    She won all three titles available at Wimbledon (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) in a single year twice in her career.

    Her last match at the Championships was in 1983, as a 39-year-old, where she lost in the semifinals to American teenager Andrea Jaeger 6-1, 6-1.

1. Martina Navratilova

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    Jul 1987:  Martina Navratilova of the USA holds up the winner plate after winning the Wimbledon Championships played at Wimbledon, London, England.  \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Singles Champion: 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990

    Doubles Champion: 1976, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986

    Mixed Doubles Champion: 1985, 1993, 1995, 2003

    Martina Navratilova is one of the most decorated players in the history of the game.

    She is the only player in the Open era to have won all the possible Grand Slam titles existing (singles, doubles and mixed doubles triumphs in all four Slams). 

    Navratilova also has 20 Wimbledon titles to her name—a record she shares with Billie Jean King. This includes a record nine singles titles, seven doubles and four mixed double titles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982-1990.

    In all, Navratilova won 59 Grand Slam titles—18 singles, 31 doubles (all-time record) and 10 mixed doubles—in a career that spanned four decades. 

    She also became the oldest Grand Slam champion at 46 years and 261 days when she won the 2003 Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Leander Paes.

    She really has nothing left to win or achieve now.

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