10 Greatest Women’s Tennis Players of all time


It is a tough ask to narrow down the all-time greats of women’s tennis to just 10.  There are so many that could easily be on the list and some that are going to have just missed out.  Here is a not-so-definitive guide to who we believe are the greatest women tennis players – but don’t ask us to rank them – that is for a different argument in the editorial room!

Serena Williams

We should really include her sister Venus too, but there are only 10 spaces. Therefore, out of the two Williams sisters, we must back Serena.  Although best not to commit to an all-time greatest ever title  – Serena must be up there.  If she wasn’t amazing before she had a child, then her comeback and continued dominance since surely does.

She is one of the strongest women ever to play the game and has won 23 grand slam titles, and you don’t feel that she is finished just yet.  She is an icon of fashion as well as a leader for women.  She truly deserves to be on an all-time greats list.

Steffi Graf

For those growing up in the 80s and 90s, Steffi Graf is tennis.  During her time in the sport, female tennis outstripped the popularity of the big-hitting, server-focused men’s game.  She was graceful, as well as powerful, and dominated the game throughout her career – with a total of 107 career titles, including 22 grand slams.  She also has an Olympic Gold Medial amongst her list of achievements.

She was known for her consistency and her coolness under pressure while playing.  When she stopped playing, she became known as the person who married Andre Agassi and creates a tennis dynasty between them.

Martina Navratilova

Navratilova was born in Prague but became an American during her career. She was for a long time kept from her family and any connection with her home country due to politics. She now lives in Sarasota, Florida.  She is the toughest, most ruthless competitor and she seemed to go on in the game forever, with a career spanning 19 years.

Regarding titles, she has 167 – 18 of which are single grand slams.  However, her grand slam victories in doubles would mean she has more titles than anyone alive – with 41 in total.

Navratilova, along with King, probably did more to advance the sport for women than any of the other players.  She is outspoken and driven and a role-model for many growing up when she was playing.

Christ Evert

Evert and Navratilova were the greatest rivalry women’s tennis has ever seen.  Graf and Seles may have competed had Seles not been attacked on the court.  However, other than this duo, no others come close to the spectacle that Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova offered.

Evert was grace and baseline strength – in comparison to the raw power and grit of her rival.  She had a two-handed backhand that was a sight to see.

In her time, she reached 34 grand slam finals – an all-time-record – and won 18 of these.  More impressive is her winning percentage – she won over 90% of all single matches she competed in.  For any woman who therefore saw Evert’s name as an opponent surely felt defeated before they left the dressing room.

Monica Seles

Seles was set to be the all-time great in women’s tennis.  She was strong and tenacious and hated to lose.  She became known first for her on-court grunt and rivalry with Graf.  Then, unfortunately, she became known as the tennis player who was stabbed in the back, in the shoulder area, by a fan obsessed with Steffi Graf.

It took two-years for Seles to return to the game after the attack, but she was never as dominant again.

You could argue that her modest number of titles and grand slam wins blocks her entry into the list of all-time greats.  However, it was the potential and the obvious dominance that was set to continue that should be considered – and not the act of one madman.

Billie Jean King

King is a force of nature on and off the court.  She played Bobby Riggs in a tennis match, to prove women could compete with men – and largely humiliated him off the court.  She played with an aggressive style that couldn’t help but demand notice, and this tended to extend off the court too.  Evert and King enjoyed a rivalry – between Navratilova came along to challenge the intensity of what a rivalry could be.

The stats for King are without a doubt impressive – 129 career titles and 12 grand slams.  For 6 out of 9 years, King took the Wimbledon title – such was her dominance.

Evonne Goolagong

It is hard to stand out when you play in the same era as the superstar personalities of King, Evert and Navratilova.  Yet, Goolagong deserves credit for her part in this golden era of women’s tennis.  She won seven grand slam titles at a time when there were some of the greatest players playing.

In some respects, Goolagong was the trailblazer for Williams.  She returned after becoming a mother to win the Wimbledon title three years later.  This quiet Australian deserved more limelight – there was just such a lot of personality on show during her time on the court.

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis doesn’t make her way into the list because of titles won – though she won 5 grand slams and 45 career titles.  She makes it to the list for sheer consistency.  Hingis spent 209 weeks ranked number one in the world.  Her career in the singles arena was cut short by a series of injuries she retired from singles play in 2003 at the age of 22. She extended her time on the court with an impressive doubles career – playing until 2017 when she competed for the last time.

Virginia Wade

We may be a little biased – but a successful English tennis player is as rare as a Dodo in the twentieth century.  She was not only a great player, who won Wimbledon, but also a fantastic advocate and speaker for others in the game.  She deserves to be in the list of greatest because she fought to her position from a tougher base than most in more sports’ rich countries.

Margaret Court

Margaret Court played in a different time and before the rip-roaring path laid out by King and Navratilova that allowed women to be strong and athletic – and champions.  She still won 24 grand slam titles and 19 doubles titles.

In reality, although quieter in her ways than those to come, Court should really be considered the trail-blazer.  She was the first woman to use weights in her training and follow a rigid fitness plan.  This has become a standard for players who want a long and injury-free career in tennis, as Court enjoyed, playing for 17 years on the professional stage.

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