As a tennis fan, you may wonder who the greatest female tennis players of all time are. SportyTell takes a look — Read on to find out which of your favorite women’s tennis players made our top-10 list.
Since the commencement of the open era, several women have dominated the tennis scene, while creating and smashing records.
Combining the top female tennis players of the open era to the adept players of the 20th century, you’ll end up with numerous tennis stars who rose from oblivion to the center stage of the sport.
Among the tennis greats who have played throughout history, selecting the top-10 is no easy task. But with much insight and careful analysis of the careers of these phenomenal women, we narrowed down the list of the world’s greatest female tennis players to ten, and we’re excited to share with you.
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The Greatest Female Tennis Players of All-Time
10. Martina Hingis
After turning pro in 1994, Martina Hingis moved on to a fiery start. Three years after she turned pro, Hingis won her first Grand Slam title. Aside from winning her first Grand Slam title, she won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, just within three years after she turned pro. Throughout her career, Hingis spent a total of 209 weeks on no.1 spot in the world singles rankings and 90 weeks as no.1 in the doubles rankings. Martina Hingis won a total of 25 major titles.
9. Justine Henin
Known for mental resilience and physical toughness, which complemented her small stature, Justine Henin’s reign atop the WTA singles chart lasted for 117 weeks. Henin finished in the number 1 spot at the end of the 2003, 2006, and 2007 calendar year, and established her country, Belgium, as one of the leading forces in the world of tennis. She won 7 Grandslam singles event, an Olympic gold medal, and a Fed Cup tournament. After winning a total of 43 WTA events, she retired in 2008 but attempted to make a comeback in 2011, which didn’t work out in her favor.
8. Venus Williams
One of the Williams sisters who continue to dominate the tennis scene, Venus would have had enough Grandslam titles to her name, if she didn’t have a showdown with her sister in the final of nine Grandslam events. Venus Williams had bested her sister on two of those occasions. She turned Pro in 1994 and has won 7 Grandslam singles, 5 Wimbledons, and 2 US Opens. Venus has emerged as a finalist in the Australian and French Opens. She has 49 WTA titles to her name, and she is currently ranked no.66 in the latest singles world rankings.
7. Billie Jean King
Best known for her Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs, King defeated Riggs in one of the few battles of the sexes match in the 20th century, which attracted about 50 million viewers. King was a phenomenal tennis player; she won 39 Grand Slam singles events, 1 Australian Open, 1 French Opens, 6 Wimbledon, and 4 US Opens. She also won the Fed Cup multiple times as captain of the US contingent. The former world no. 1 has 129 titles to her name.
6. Monica Seles
A reminder of how fan obsession could go wrong, Monica Seles was the victim of an unfortunate stabbing accident by a fan who was obsessed over her opponent, Steffi Graf. It was not uncommon for Seles and Steffi Graf to go head-to-head in Grand Slam events. Before the incident, Seles won 8 Grand Slam singles title, 4 Australian Opens, 3 French Open, and 2 US Opens. Following the stabbing incident, Seles returned to action but won just one Grand Slam event, the Australian Open. She also won the Fed Cup after the incident. Seles won 53 titles during her career before she retired in 2008.
5. Chris Evert
During the mid-1970s, one name reigned supremely over others in the world of female tennis. Her powerful shots helped her dominate the tennis scene. Chris Evert won 18 Grand Slam singles events, 2 Australian Opens, 7 French Opens, 3 Wimbledons, and 6 US Opens. She ended 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1981 calendar year at the number one spot in the world singles rankings. Evert won a total of 157 titles before her retirement in 1989.
4. Margaret Court
One of the pioneers of fitness and weight training in tennis, Margaret Court had a really successful career which was not marred by the discomfort of injuries. Margaret Court won 24 Grand Slam singles events, 11 Australian Opens, 5 French Opens, 3 Wimbledons, and 5 US Opens. She also won Grand Slam Doubles and Grand Slam Mixed Doubles in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Court won a total of 192 titles during her career.
3. Martina Navratilova
Her name reigned supremely in the world of tennis, during the early years of the 1970s and well into the 1980s. Martina Navratilova has 18 Grand Slam Singles title to her name, 3 Australian Opens, 2 French Opens, 9 Wimbledons, and 4 US Opens. She won Grand Slam Doubles and Grand Slam Mixed Doubles in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. She also won the Fed Cup and won 168 titles throughout her career.
2. Steffi Graf
Since the introduction of the Open era, Steffi Graf holds the record for the third-most major wins with 22 Grand Slams Singles titles. She is the first female tennis player to win four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. She has won 4 Australian Opens, 6 French Opens, 7 Wimbledons, and 5 US Opens. Graf won the Fed Cup and a total of 107 titles during her career.
1. Serena Williams
One of the Williams sisters who have long dominated the tennis world, Serena, is a tennis icon. She is undoubtedly the queen in the Open era and the greatest tennis player of all-time. She has won about US $92 million in prize money since she turned Pro in 1995.
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam titles, making her the second player with the most major wins in the Open era. She has won 7 Australian Opens, 3 French Opens, 7 Wimbledons, and 6 US Opens. Serena Williams has won Grand Slam doubles in the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open, and Grand Slam Mixed Doubles in Wimbledon and US Open. She has won Olympic Gold medals on four occasions. Williams has won 72 WTA titles and ranks no. 10 in the world singles rankings released in November 2019.
Which of the women’s tennis players did you expect on this list? Please feel free to share your thoughts on our top-10 list of the greatest female tennis players of all-time.
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i adore serena williams. i prayed so hard that she would win the auckland finals. love u serena. i have been watching her for ever. now she is on to the 25th. you go girl.
This list is ridiculous. First of all, while Serena has ONE more major than Graf, she has won 35 less titles. THIRTY FIVE LESS!!! And Graf has a 3% higher winning percentage. Such a lazy and “politically correct” list.
Martina is the greatest of them all. 167 singles titles. 350 professional titles overall. And the only reason she does not have more majors is because it took 4-5 years to adapt to being here in the US…something Williams never had to go through.
Graf and Martina CLEARLY have had better careers. Serena had a lot of sloppy periods and inconsistency in her career.. She is NOT the greatest ever…not even close.
Dave, Serena Williams is a class above Steffi Graf. Graf had it easy after Seles was stabbed. Seles was a better player than Graf at the time. Margaret Court is the greatest female tennis player of all time with a total of 64 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, followed by Martina Navratilova with a total of 59 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Dave, you forgot to mention that Serena Williams deliberately chose not to play in these minor tournaments so that she could save herself for winning the most important tournaments of them all, Grand Slam singles titles.
I’m pretty much in agreement with Dave regarding this list being overly politically correct and, I think, for the most part, extremely predictable. I also thought Jim was accurate when he said Margaret Court is the best female tennis player of all time – if you’re basing the title of “Best” solely on Grand Slam wins. (Though I think things like overcoming adversity, tenacity, and overall attitude should be considered when rating any athlete as the “greatest of all time”.)
Take Paula Radcliffe, a marathon runner who suffered from asthma and anemia and holds four of the five fastest times ever in women’s marathon running. She never won an Olympic Gold Medal so would she be on a list of Best Female Marathoners of all time?
What about Dan Marino, the Miami Dolphins quarterback who held nearly every major passing record when he retired, yet only played in one Superbowl and he did not lead the Dolphins to victory there. Certainly, one of the top 10 best quarterbacks of all time but should/would he make that list without a Superbowl ring?
Not if the metrics for the list were based only on how many times an athlete managed to win their sport’s biggest game or championship match. Of course, winning the big game usually helps catapult an already outstanding athlete to the forefront, but it can’t be the one and only thing used to rank an athlete among his/her sports greatest. At least not in my opinion.
Lastly, I feel I would have enjoyed this article much more if it were not so fully laden with typos. Seriously – there is subject/verb clashes, several misspellings (Monica Seles became Monica Sales in the very next sentence.) Comma use that had me rereading sentences just to figure out what the author was trying to convey, etc. Sadly, what seems to have become standard fare when reading articles on the internet.
Perhaps mentioning this is not completely relevant to the topic at hand, but this is the third internet article (out of three) that had so many little mistakes that when totalled together, added up to the overall piece being one big mess. It’s so prevalent lately that I’ve started to wonder if anyone out there ever edits an article before publishing it to the internet for the world to view, or if it’s now customary for the reader to add an additional 5 minutes to their reading time in order to edit things themselves? If it’s the latter, I’d be happy to sharpen my blue pencil!
Thanks for the article nonetheless as it is apparent that someone took a little time to look up the statistics that were used, and it helped me pass the time for 8 minutes while waiting for this freight train to get done crossing the road. It has finally finished and so have I.
For me Navratilova is the greatest, Henin is very underrated and Venus overrated. I would never put Venus in front of Henin. Thanks God they didn’t forget about Hingis.
Detu, Hingis wasn’t that great. Seles was a much better player than Hingis. Margaret Court was the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Detu, Hingis was overrated. She did not win the French Open. She won the Australian Open 3 times, the US Open once and Wimbledon once. Maria Sharapova was a better Grand Slam singles player than Martina Hingis because Sharapova won every Grand Slam singles title. She won the French Open twice, the US Open once, Wimbledon once and the Australian Open once. I also put Sharapova ahead of Henin as an all time great because Henin never won Wimbledon. Maria Sharapova was a very underrated player and was very unfortunate to keep facing Serena Williams at her peak.
Steffi Graf is the most overrated player of all time. I have no doubt that Monica Seles would have ended up with more Grand Slam singles titles than Graf, had she not for been stabbed.
Congratulations Monica Seles on a brilliant tennis career.!
Navratilova is easily the best to me because of the talent she played against! King, Court, Everett then Graf and even Seles at the end and still won all of those titles! Serena won far less titles then any of these ladies against far less competition! Hingis was smoking Serena her first few years and she wasn’t near the all around player these ladies were! Seles was the best for a 3 year run but three decades of consistency are impossible to match for me. I’ve watched all of these ladies play live and I have no problem saying these ladies wouldn’t only beat Serena they would embarrass her! So my top 5 is 1. Navratilova,2 Court , 3 Graf, 4 Everett and Seles! I know grand slams are the biggest tournaments but when two play have the same amount or close in grand slams but one has 40 titles while the other has close to 200 how are they comparable? Oh they’re not! Also if character and respect have anything to do with it Serena is at the bottom of the barrel in that category as she always cussed and berated the officials when things didn’t go her way!
Rex, Navratilova only had Chris Evert has her main opposition because Navratilova was in her thirties when Graf came along. Billie Jean King was 13 years older than Navratilova and only won 12 Grand Slam singles titles.
Margaret Court with 64 Grand Slam Titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles was the best. Margaret Court was only a year older than Billie Jean King, so Margaret Court had very good opposition. Seles would have won more than 20 Grand Slam singles titles if she wasn’t stabbed. Seles won 8 Grand Slam singles titles by the age of 19, so she is the 2nd best. She was beating Graf regularly in Grand Slam singles finals. Navratilova would be the 3rd best with 59 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Next would be Serena Williams and then Chris Evert. Evert, with 18 Grand Slam singles titles, had very strong opposition in Navratilova. I believe that Graf, who had 22 Grand Slam singles titles, would have won less than 18 Grand Slam singles titles had her main opposition in Monica Seles, not been stabbed.
Does anyone ever notice that EVERY single African person puts Serena at the top? That’s pretty racist to me.
Rex, You Cannot Be Serious! I completely disagree with Rex. Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles compared to Hingis, a measly 5 Grand Slam singles titles. Serena Williams had very tough competition with Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters to name a few. Hingis could not handle the power of the top players in the end, so she retired early. Hingis was the bottom of the barrel in the 1999 French Open Final when she berated the chair umpire after she disagreed with the linesperson’s call. Serena Williams will go down in history as a far better tennis player than Hingis.
Rex, it’s all about winning Grand Slam singles titles. Any top professional tennis player will tell you that winning Grand Slam singles titles are the most important thing to them in tennis.
Rex, assuming Serena Williams was born in 1950, she would have still won several Grand Slam singles titles in the 1970s and 1980s because tennis racquets were becoming more powerful in those decades. Serena Williams would still have had too much power for Navratilova and Evert.
Had Serena Williams been born in 1930, she would have struggled to win any Grand Slam singles titles in the 1950s and 1960s, using a wooden tennis racquet.
Had Serena Williams been born in 1970, she would have had too much power for Steffi Graf too.
Serena would have had trouble with Monica Seles her whole career, had they both started the year that Seles started as a tennis professional. That’s because Seles was hitting the ball harder than anyone at the time and successfully.
I rate Seles so highly because she won an amazing 8 Grand Slam singles titles by the time she was 19 and was unfortunately stabbed when she was just 19 abd at her peak. Had Seles not been stabbed, in my honest opinion, she would have in excess of 20 Grand Slam singles titles in a quicker period than Serena Williams and even with Graf around, because Seles had the wood on Graf in Grand Slam singles finals. Remarkably, Seles won another Grand Slam singles title after her stabbing 3 years later, when Seles unfortunately was unable to play at her back because of the trauma she suffered from that stabbing.
Had Hingis kept playing and not retired early, Serena would have kept hitting her off the court, as Serena started to become a great player and more powerful player from 1999 onwards.
Steffi Graf, and its not even close. I am 53, and have seen them all. Graf was a robot. If she had the technology like they have today, in the 80’s and early 90’s like Serena has now, she would easily beat Serena head to head. Seles was the only one close to Graf. They were even head to head. But Graf dominated everyone else in the world easily. My top 10 in order Graf, Serena, Seles, Martina, Court, Henin, Venus, Hingus, Evert, Osaka.
Evert is certainly above Henin, Venus and Hingis. All around, Martina won 350 titles professionally. She is the GOAT in my book. Steffi second.
Steffi Graf is the most overrated player of all time, who won the last 13 Grand Slam singles titles of her career due to the stabbing of Seles. Graf did not have a good backhand and had no serious competition after Seles was stabbed. Margaret Court is easily the greatest tennis player of all time, with her absolutely brilliant all time RECORD in Grand Slam singles titles, Grand Slam doubles titles and Grand Slam mixed doubles times. Congratulations Margaret Court. You are the GOAT.
1. Margaret Court
2. Monica Seles
3. Serena Williams
4. Martina Navratilova
5. Chris Evert
Natasha, I’ll be 56 very soon and I was in the crowd for the 1993 Australian Open Women’s Final, where Seles beat Graf and I was very impressed with Monica Seles.
I am also referring to the period from 1990 to 1993, where Seles won her 8 Grand Slam singles titles before being stabbed.
The head to head record in Grand Slam matches between Seles and Graf during that particular period was 3-1 in favour of Seles.
I don’t count 1989 because Seles was only 15 then, born 2 December 1973, 4 and a half years younger than Graf, born 14 June 1969.
I don’t count the period after Seles was stabbed, although Seles still miraculously won the Australian Open again in 1996, because Seles was robbed of her peak years after that stabbing, as a result of the Post-traumatic stress disorder she suffered.
She was never the same player again after that stabbing but I have absolutely no doubt she would have kept her amazing level and performances going, had she not been stabbed. To have 8 Grand Slam singles titles by the age of 19, is truly remarkable.
This is the head to head between Monica Seles and Steffi Graf in Grand Slam matches from 1990 to 1993 before Seles was stabbed:
1) 1990 French Open Final:
Monica Seles defeated Steffi Graf 7-6, 6-4.
2) 1992 French Open Final:
Monica Seles defeated Steffi Graf 6-2, 3-6, 10-8
3) 1992 Wimbledon Final:
Steffi Graf defeated Monica Seles 6-1, 6-2.
4) 1993 Australian Open Final:
Monica Seles defeated Steffi Graf 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Seles was then stabbed on April 30, 1993 before any other Grand Slam singles tournament.
These results, apart from Wimbledon, is what makes me firmly believe that Seles, then aged 19, would have continued her dominance over Graf in Grand Slam Finals, had she not been stabbed.