Petra Kvitova and the 10 Best Lefties in Women's Tennis History

Delores Smith-JohnsonCorrespondent IIIOctober 12, 2011

Petra Kvitova and the 10 Best Lefties in Women's Tennis History

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    According to a New York Times article published earlier this year, only about 10 percent of the world's population is left-handed. When you think in terms of the small microcosm of tennis in that respect, one can easily deduct that the number of players who are left-handed is quite small.

    To give some perspective, that same article also mentions that in the 125 years of Wimbledon only eight left-handed players have won the singles title. Of those eight, six were men and two were women.

    This article will take a look at some of the best left-handed female players to ever take the tennis court. And of course, those two female champions mentioned above will be a part of this very special group of women.

    As with any article, there are players who may not be listed, but in no way is that any disrespect to their career. In fact, if you know of a player who is not listed who you feel should be, do leave feedback.

    The list is comprised of players from both the pre-Open Era and Open Era, and are listed from earliest to the present.

    Let's begin...

Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling

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    Born: March 26, 1908

    Turned Pro: N/A

    Career-High Ranking: No. 2

    Career Highlights: Won three French Championships (1935, 1936, 1937)

    Retired: N/A

    International Hall of Fame Induction: N/A

     

    Steffi Graf and Sperling are known as the two best female (No. 1 and No. 2 respectively) German players of all time.

Margaret Croft Scriven-Vivian

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    Born: August 17, 1912

    Turned Pro: N/A

    Career-High Ranking: No. 5

    Career Highlights: Won the French Championships singles title in 1933 and 1934; Additionally, she won the French Championships doubles (1935) and mixed doubles (1933)

    Retired: N/A

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    Scriven is the first left-handed female tennis player to win any Grand Slam title and the first British woman to win the French Championships.

Katharine Esther Stammers

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    Born: April 3, 1914 (Katharine "Kay" Esther Stammers)

    Turned Pro: N/A

    Career-High Ranking:

    Career Highlights: Won French Championships doubles title (1935; her partner was fellow left-hander, "Peggy" Scriven) and Wimbledon doubles title (1935 and 1936)

    Retired: N/A

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    Stammers was known for her beauty and her sense of fashion. She was also well-known for having dated John F. Kennedy—yes, the former President of the United States of America.  

Ann Haydon-Jones

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    Born: October 7, 1938

    Turned Pro: N/A

    Career Highlights: 113 singles titles including the 1961 and 1966 French Championships and Wimbledon 1969

    Retired: 1971 (following this year she only participated in occasional events in the UK; she did play doubles at Wimbledon in 1975)

    International Hall of Fame Induction: 1985

     

    Haydon-Jones was the first left-handed female player to win Wimbledon.

IIana Kloss

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    Born: March 22, 1956

    Turned Pro: 1973

    Career High Ranking: No. 1 in doubles

    Career Highlights: 19 career doubles titles; won US Open doubles title (1976) and French Open mixed doubles title (1976)

    Retired: N/A

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    Kloss, who is Jewish, was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat

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    Born: August 10, 1956

    Turned Pro: 1973

    Career High Ranking: No. 4

    Career Highlights: 15 career titles, including the Australian Open doubles title in 1977 (she also reached the singles final that same year)

    Retired: 1990

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    Balestrat was a formidable opponent on the court, defeating greats like Martina Navratilova (4x), Billie Jean King and Chris Evert (3x).

Martina Navratilova

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    Born: October 18, 1956

    Turned Pro: 1975

    Career High Ranking: No. 1

    Career Highlights: 167 career singles title, 177 career doubles titles and 15 career mixed doubles titles; of those titles, 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 Grand Slam doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles

    Retired: 1994-1999; 2006

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: 2000

     

    Navratilova is by far one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Her career singles and doubles titles are both records for men or women.

Sylvia Hanika

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    Born: November 30, 1959

    Turned Pro: 1977

    Career-High Ranking: No. 5

    Career Highlights: won four career singles titles and one career doubles title; reached the singles final at the French Open in 1981

    Retired: 1990

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    Hanika actually posted a win over Martina Navratilova back in 1982 at the Avon Series Championship. It took three sets, but she captured the win.

Monica Seles

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    Born: December 2, 1973

    Turned Pro: 1989

    Career-High Ranking: No. 1

    Career Highlights: 53 career singles titles, including nine Grand Slam singles titles; additionally, she won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic games

    Retired: 2008

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: 2009

     

    Seles had her first career title win the first year she turned pro. She actually defeated Chris Evert.

Patty Schnyder

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    Born: December 14, 1978

    Turned Pro: 1994

    Career-High Ranking: No. 7

    Career Highlights: 11 WTA, three ITF singles titles and five WTA doubles titles; her best performance at a Grand Slam was reaching the semifinals of the 2004 Australian Open.

    Retired: 2011

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    Over the course of her career, Schnyder handed defeat to numerous No. 1 players including Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams and Steffi Graf.

Petra Kvitova

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    Born: March 8, 1990

    Turned Pro: 2006

    Career High Ranking: No. 4

    Career Highlights: five WTA and seven ITF singles titles; Wimbledon singles title 2011

    Retired: N/A

    International Tennis Hall of Fame: N/A

     

    In her short professional career, Kvitova has already achieved greatness in winning her first Grand Slam this year at Wimbledon, handing defeat to one of the best players on tour—Maria Sharapova.

Wrap-Up

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    And so this concludes a look at the careers of some of the top female left-handed players in tennis history.

    Hopefully, you were inspired to learn more, as this was a mere snapshot.

    As part of the conclusion, here's a quick fact about Kimiko Date-Krumm (shown above):

    Date-Krum was naturally left-handed, but because of the cultural stigma of being left-handed in her native Japan, she was taught to play right-handed.