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