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Greatest Female Tennis Player of All Time

Updated on September 22, 2016


At the moment, there is a huge focus on Serena Williams. This is because she is trying to capture 22 Grand Slam, after wining the Serena Slam for a second time at Wimbledon, and also to get the calendar grand slam. These records and achievements are raising a question of who is the greatest female palyer of all time.

Many pundits claim its Steffi Graf still, or Martina Navratilova and some even say Margaret Court. Here are my top 6 of the GOAT in women’s tennis:

6. Billie-Jean King

Bille Jean was more than just a great tennis player, but she was a great campaigner and activist. Her career saw her win 12 Grand Slam, but some came prior to Open Tennis.

Her speed and power were very effective and she was able to win many Grand Slams against gret players like Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong and Maria Bueno.

Billie Jean King vs Bobby Riggs

5. Margaret Court

Margaret is often forgotten due to the era she competed in being a while ago. She however possessed a tremendous attacking game. She had a great serve, grounstrokes and volleys. Here record of 24 Grand Slams is above all others. However, she did win many Australian Opens, when few of her main rivals travelled to Australia.

She also competed before and after the Open Era, which also undermines this record. All the same the 1970 Grand Slam was an impressive feat.

Margaret beating a familiar face

4. Chris Evert

Chris Evert was the winner of 18 Grand Slams, she revolutionised tennis with a two handed backhand. She brough baseline play into fashion and the idea that Forehand and Backhand should be struck with force.

Here rivalry with Martina in the 1980s was hugely entertaining and allow she won many battles, Martina did tend to dominate Chris through much of the 1980s.

Chris winning on her best surface, clay

3. Steffi Graf

Winner of 22 Grand Slams and the possesor of a huge forehand. Steffi domianted tennis in 1988, 1989 and again in 1993, 1995 and 1996.

She did win more Grand Slams than Serena and Martina, but her career was eclipsed by Monica Seles from 1990-1993. She contested 4 Grand Slam finals against Monica in this period and she won only 1 of them. In 1993, Monica Seles was stabbed by an attacker and this sidelined her until late 1995. This factor weighed heavily on the number of Grand Slams that Steffi was able to win.

For me this factor makes it harder to rate Steffi ahead of Martina or Serena.

Steffi wins a Grand Slam Final with ease

2. Martina Navratilova

Why have I ranked Martina ahead of Steffi? For me Martina doinated and was untouchable in 1983 and 1984. Steffi likewise in 1988 and 1989, but Martina changed the sport with her fitness and power and set a new level for women’s tennis. Steffi did bring about power, but this was not revolutionising as much as the early ball striking and power of Monica Seles, during this era.

Martina won less Grand Slams, but we also need to appreciate her doubles record compared to Steffi. Steffi also won many Grand Slam in the absence of here rival Monica Seles. Martina did not lose any rivals at the peak of her career. She eclipsed them.

Martina winning the US Open vs her rival, Chris Evert

1. Serena Williams

For me Serena is already the greatest player of all time. This is because she has been able to dominate all of her principal rivals throughout the length of her career. At the moment, Maria Sharapova is here ‘rival’, but she has beaten her eveytime they have played in a decade. She has not even lost a set to her since 2013.

When Serena is on, the other players have not been abale to beat her and this superior ability separates her from Graf or Navratilova. Steffi was susceptible to being beaten by her rivals at her peak and sometimes playing good tennis. Seles was the main cause of defeat for Steffi, but also Sabatini, Novotna, Sanchez Vicario and Navratilova caused her difficulty in her peak times.

Martina did have a two period of total dominance over Evert and Mandlikova, but this ended and she was tested by Evert, Mandlikova and a young Graf during her peak.

In Serena’ case, when she is on her game, we do not expect he to lose to any rivals. However, she often suffers setbacks and early loses, when off her game. This for me is her weakness, a lack of consistency, which Graf did not really suffer from too much.

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Serena Williams at her best in 2009 Australian Open


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