"Game, set, match."
A gentleman's game.
Tennis is a popular worldwide racket sport, originating as a racket-less game in France during the Middle Ages
. In addition to the Bond One-Liner
provided above, it is also the source for numerous sex jokes
(Even when we're not scoring, we're in love!). It's regulated by the International Tennis Federation, with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) responsible for the men's game and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for the ladies'. The most important championships are Wimbledon
and the Australian, French, and US Opens; these are referred to as the Grand Slams
, but winning all four is known as the
Tennis history is split into two main parts: Open Era and pre-Open Era. Pre-Open Era, the Grand Slam tournaments only allowed amateur players to compete. As of the Open Era, 1968 - present, tennis is a pro sport with prize money at all events. The advent of the Open Era also heralded standardised and reliable record keeping and consistent tournament rules.
Tennis is largely an individual and pair sport, but team events are not unheard of. The Davis Cup
is a men's event (ladies get the Fed Cup and the Hopman Cup is mixed) that involves teams from different countries playing each other in a knockout tournament.
The basic game is easy to grasp: one player serves the ball, and they proceed to whack it back and forth over a netnote
until one player a) hits it into the net, b) hits it out of the court, or c) lets the ball bounce in-bounds more than once. Any of those will grant the person who didn't do it a point.
Players can also concede penalty points by repeatedly engaging in 'Unsportsmanlike Conduct'; offences include shouting at officials or players, smashing racquets, deliberately hitting balls at the crowd, distracting opponents and taking too long to serve or change ends. Serious or repeat offences, such as injuring someone, lead to disqualification, as seen in the 2012 final of Queens.
The game is notable for its ludicrous scoring system:
- The first scoring level is the game. Unlike other sports a score of zero is called "love" in tennis. From "love," you go to 15, 30, 40,note then Game... unless both players are at 40, in which case one player must win by 2, necessitating 40:40note > 40:Advantage > Game. This can lead to very extended games when neither player can string enough points together leading to 40:40 > 40:Ad > 40:40 > Ad:40 and on and on.
- Sets, the second scoring layer, are groups of games, usually played until one player reaches 6 games; but as with games, they must win by a margin of 2. As this used to lead to very long sets, a tie-breaker game is now played when the score reaches 6-6. However, there is no tie-breaker in the final set of some events, such as the Grand Slam championships apart from the US Open, so occasionally very long sets still occur (at Wimbledon in 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut had a 5th set that lasted for over 8 freaking hours, finishing at 70-68).
- Finally, matches are largely to sets as sets are to games, but are typically best-of-3 sets, or best-of-5 sets in some men's events.
Believe it or not, the scoring rules are actually even more complicated than this
; there are special rules made for tiebreaker games (which is the only part of the scoring system that uses a simple 1,2,3,4,5 counting system); variations such as 'No Ad' scoring (playing a single decisive point when both players reach 40); a 'Championship Tiebreak' instead of a final set; and different combinations of all the above scoring systems. However, this basically captures how you keep score in tennis. Hell of a job.
Tennis matches are played in either singles or doubles matches. In singles matches, the side margins of the court are considered out-of-bounds; in doubles, they're fair game. In doubles matches, one half of a team takes the front, the other takes the back; the back player of the serving team is the server. Typically, the better receiver takes the front for the receiving team.
The tennis season is a lengthy one and consists of five major events:
But Wait, There's More!
- Australian Open (late Jan - early Feb in Melbourne): The first major event and Grand Slam of the tennis season. It takes place on hard courts, the most modern and common type of court surfacenote . Used to be the red-headed stepchild of the Slams with many pros skipping it due to its distant location, original December schedule and low prize money (hence why tennis stars like Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe do not have an AO win to their names - they didn't even bother attending it most of the time), until around the 1990s when it gained equal footing with the other Slams. Also known for its swelteringly hot temperatures and its 2012 final which became the longest-ever Grand Slam final at nearly six hours.
- French Open (late May - early June in Paris): Also known as Roland Garros, it takes place on clay courts that favor defenders due to their slowness and high bounce giving players more time to reach the ball and return it in ways difficult for their opponent to hit. Because of this, it was historically considered to be the hardest Grand Slam to win with many great players' tactics being ill-suited for the clay surface and many French Open champions being clay-court specialists who performed poorly at other Slams, until more recent times. Also known for its raucous crowds who aren't shy about booing their unfavorites, which include 9-time champion Rafael Nadal.
- Wimbledon (late June - early July in London): The Grand Slam that most people think of first when tennis is mentioned. It uses grass courts that favor attackers due to their speed and low bounce giving players less time to return big serves and volleysnote hit by their opponents, although the courts have been slowed down recently to encourage longer rallies. At least twenty complaints are printed every year about this "slowing-down". Also known for its all-white dress code, no matches on the middle Sunday of the two-week tournament, and rain showers delaying play, although a roof installed in 2009 has mitigated the latter. Roger Federer, who has won a record-tying 7 trophies here, has been dubbed Wimbledon's "Favorite Son".
- US Open (late Aug - early Sept in New York City): The last Grand Slam of the season (but not the "true" end of the season), it has the highest attendance record of all Slams. Like the Australian Open, it's played on hard courts that fall somewhere in between the slowness of clay courts and the fastness of grass courts. Unlike the Australian Open, its venue doesn't have a roof which means that gusting winds and match-delaying rains frequently affect play. It is also the only Slam that decides a 6-6 final set by a tiebreak system instead of the "win by 2 games in the final set" rule, which (un)fortunately means that there's no chance of its matches becoming a 3-day epic like Wimbledon's 2010 Isner-Mahut match.
- WTA Tour Championships and ATP World Tour Finals (Oct. for the women, Nov. for the men): The event that marks the true end of the tennis season. Ideally, it's supposed to determine the No. 1 player with only the top eight players in the world being pitted against each other in separate tournaments for the men and women. More often, what happens instead is that there's already a runaway No. 1 who doesn't even need to win the event to be the clear Player of the Year, and the fun of the YEC lies more in its unique round-robin format that lets people see their favorites play for at least three guaranteed matches in the opening roundsnote . Also worth watching for the dramatically-lit player entrances and the Confetti Drop during the trophy ceremony.
In addition to the above events, tennis players are expected to participate in these tournaments:
- Team tournaments (various dates/places): There are three tournaments in which teams of players compete for their country: the Fed Cup for women, the Davis Cup for men, and the Hopman Cup for both. The Hopman Cup takes place in Dec-Jan in Australia and follows the same general "round-robin for the opening matches, knock-out for the semis and finals" format of the YEC, with every team playing matches against each of the other 3 teams in its group, except that they have to play each team not only once but thrice with a men's singles, women's singles, and mixed doubles match. The Fed and Davis Cups, in contrast, follow a much more straightforward knock-out format but take almost the entire year and globe to complete with teams having to keep track of not only which country they're supposed to be traveling to next but also five matches over three daysnote with their current opponent. The finals are both held in November, by which time everyone's so confused they can't remember who's playing whom.
- Other tournaments (various dates/places): The smaller tournaments that don't get as much publicity as the Grand Slams but are still important to top-ranked players who are required to enter a certain number (but not all) of them, and lower-ranked players who can farm ranking points at low-profile tournaments higher-ranked players are unlikely to bother with. The tournaments usually serve as lead-ins to a Slam, such as the clay-court Madrid and Rome Masters that precede the French Open, and the US Open Series (but the three highest scorers on their points system get a Double Unlock of big money if they win the Open proper; needless to say that in 2013, both Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal broke the bank in this manner), or to ensure that the players never get a moment of rest even between Slams with even the lull period between the US Open and YEC being jam-packed with multiple Asian tournaments.
Suffice it to say that tennis players can consider themselves blessed if they don't get a single cramp or injury during their 10/11-month-long season. Professional tennis is no endeavour for the faint-hearted or weak-legged.
In 1973 a system to rank all professional tennis players was put in place, with separate ranking lists for men and women. The system is points-based and looks only at the last 52 weeks of the calendar.
Basically, players gain points for every match they play (even if they lose), with the number of points increasing the further they progress into a tournament. The amount of points at stake varies with the tournament, with the Grand Slams giving each winner 2000 points and the smaller tournaments awarding anywhere from 250 to 1000 points to the champion.
Only points accumulated in the last 52 weeks are included in the rankings, however, which means that for each yearly tournament the points earned by their players from last year are erased and replaced with their newest results. This means that a low-ranked player can shoot up several ranking spots with a single exceptional performance at a major tournament, but also that the same player can crash back down the ranking list if s/he fails to "defend" their points at the same tournament next year (assuming that their performances at all other tournaments are the same as last year's).
Rankings also determine the draws in tournaments through four different classifications:
- Seeded: The highest-ranked players, who get the honor of a number by their name. Seeding differs from ranking as it only counts the players who have entered, which means that if the World No. 1 doesn't enter a tournament, then the No. 2 ranked player becomes the No. 1 seed and so on. The number of seeds depends on the size of the tournament and the seeds are spread out across the draw so that they only meet in later rounds, to prevent the top players from knocking out each other too early.
- Unseeded: Players not highly ranked enough for seeding, but still enough to get automatic entry. The amount of these players again depends on the size of the tournament.
- Wildcard: Awarded to players who don't have a high enough ranking to gain automatic entry; usually ones who are young but have potential, are from the country the tournament is being held in, will sell a lot of tickets, or who used to be highly ranked but slipped down due to injury/maternity leave, etc.
- Qualifiers: Players not ranked high enough for direct entry, and who can't gain wildcards. A pre-tournament mini-tournament is held beforehand to determine the qualifiers who will be placed in the main draw. Qualifiers and wildcards are usually pitted against seeded players early on and so it is highly unusual for them to progress very far.
Of course, the official rankings aren't the whole story and it's important to keep in mind that Grand Slams aren't the only events that matter points-wise (in spite of what news coverage of them might imply), which means that it's perfectly possible for a player to not win a single Slam and still finish the year as No. 1 if the Slam points were really spread out among other players and the player performed exceptionally well in all other tournaments. Or for a player to win two Grand Slams and still not be ranked No. 1 if they didn't make it very far in the other Slams and skipped a lot of smaller tournaments. The Player of the Year awards given out at the end of the year are usually more indicative of the actual stand-out players in cases like these.
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Current ATP Players
- Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) 1995-present
- Twin brothers who are currently the World No. 1 doubles team, and hold virtually every record in the book for men's doubles teams. Their most notable team records are Grand Slam titles (16), tournaments won (101), most weeks at No. 1 (385 and counting), and most year-end No. 1 rankings (9). Named by ATP fans as their favorite team in each year since that award was created in 2006. They have a career Golden Slam in doubles after winning Olympic gold in London in 2012, and their win at Wimbledon in 2013 made them the first men's doubles team in the Open era to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once. Finally, they are the only men's doubles team in history to win every major title in the sport—all four Grand Slam events, Olympic gold, every Masters 1000 event,note the YEC, and Davis Cup.
- Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 2003-present
- Current World No. 1. Has held No. 1 for 102 weeks (and counting). Has won 7 Grand Slams and an Olympic bronze medal in singles. Was constantly overshadowed by Federer and Nadal early on in his career despite being World No. 3, until he went on a spectacular 43-0 game winning streak in 2011 and became the only tennis player on the planet capable of reliably defeating the above two. Some of the time. Is also known as "Djoker" for his sense of humor and impersonations of other players.
- Roger Federer (Switzerland) 1998-present
- Has held No. 1 for 302 weeks (longer than any other ATP player) and won an Open Era ATP record of 17 Grand Slams including a record-tying 7 Wimbledon, 5 US Open and 4 Australian Open titles (and 1 French Open, but that's not a record). Also has an Olympic gold medal in men's doubles with Stan Wawrinka (below) and a silver in singles. Is often cited as the greatest tennis player of all time. If one were to look up ATP tennis records on the Other Wiki, one would find his name on 90%.note During his 2012 Wimbledon run he broke a record in every match he played after the second round.
- Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 1998-present
- Was the youngest -ver world No. 1, which he held for 80 weeks. He has won 2 singles Grand Slams and 1 doubles. After an explosive start to his career in which he set a number of "youngest ever" records, he was unable to keep up with his peers' rapid improvement. Throw in a number of injury-related lay-offs and a run in with Father Time, and old Rusty has been stuck in the 50+ rankings for the past few years. But his raw enthusiasm and never say die attitude keeps him firmly in a crowd favourite spot.
- Andy Murray (UK) 2005-present
- Has won 2 Grand Slams. Was constantly known as "the best tennis player to never win a Grand Slam" until he broke a 76-year national hoodoo in 2012 by becoming the first male Brit to win a major - the US Open - since Fred Perry in 1936 and then broke a similar national drought the very next year by becoming the first male Brit to win Wimbledon since - you guessed it - Fred Perry in 1936. Also has an Olympic gold medal in singles and a silver in mixed doubles.
- Rafael Nadal (Spain) 2001-present
- Has held No. 1 for 141 weeks, and also holds the record for the most weeks at No. 2. He has won 14 Grand Slams. One of only four people to achieve a singles Career Golden Slam, which entails winning all four Grand Slam championships and the Olympic gold medal. Known as the "King of Clay", he has won a record nine French Open championships and only ever lost one match there.
- Juan Martín del Potro (Argentina) 2005-present
- Has won 1 Grand Slam and an Olympic bronze medal in singles. The only active player outside of the Big Fournote to have won a Grand Slam from the 2005 French Open through the 2013 US Open. Following his breakthrough Slam victory at the 2009 US Open, he spent most of the next year out with a wrist injury and has been working his way back to Slam-threatening form ever since. He has been nicknamed the "Tower of Tandil" because of his 6'6'' frame and is also known as the "Gentle Giant" of the tour for his soft-spoken disposition too.
- Stanislas "Stan" Wawrinka (Switzerland) 2002-present
- His breakthrough Slam victory at the 2014 Australian Open, combined with the US Open win later that year of the next entry on our list, may or may not have begun a changing of the guard in men's tennis. Wawrinka was the first male player to defeat both of the top two seeds in the same Grand Slam event in over 20 years.note Teamed with Federer to win Olympic gold in doubles in 2008. Remains to be seen whether this breakthrough will hold.
- Marin Čilić (Croatia) 2005-present
- Won the 2014 US Open in his first-ever Grand Slam final, taking down Federer along the way. While long a solidly competitive player, he had previously made it to the semifinals in only one Slam and the quarterfinals in three more. As with Wawrinka, it remains to be seen whether his first Slam win is the start of bigger things.
Current WTA Players
- Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) 2003-present
- Has held No. 1 for 51 weeks. Has won 2 singles Grand Slams and 2 mixed doubles. She won the first Olympic gold medal awarded for mixed doubles (at London 2012), also picking up a bronze medal in the singles. As well as her achievements, she is known for her distinctive "wail" on court.
- Martina Hingis (Switzerland) 1994-2003, 2005, 2006-2007, 2013-present
- Has held No. 1 for 209 weeks. Has won 5 singles Grand Slams, 9 doubles and 1 mixed doubles. The Swiss Missnote is the youngest Grand Slam champion ever, winning her first doubles title at just 15 years old. She is also the youngest singles champion of the Open Era, winning the her maiden Slam the next year at 16. In 1998 she achieved the Calendar Year Grand Slam in doubles. She was plagued by injuries at a young age, causing repeated retirement-return tangos. Her most recent retirement was in 2007, shortly after she received a 2-year ban for testing positive for cocaine. Since then she has been a regular player in World Team Tennis and in July 2013, she returned to the WTA tour in doubles.
- Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic) 2006-present
- Has won 2 Grand Slams, both of them at Wimbledon. A shy southpaw who can hit the ball with bruising power and - much like Li Na - is unstoppable on her best day but beatable by anyone on her worst. She's also affectionately called "P3tra" by some fans for her penchant for getting into 3-setters regardless of her opponents' ranking.
- Maria Sharapova (Russia) 2001-present
- Has held No. 1 for 21 weeks. Has won 5 Grand Slams to achieve a Career Grand Slam and an Olympic silver medal in singles. She shot to fame by winning her maiden Slam at Wimbledon when she was just 17; ever since then, she's recovered from shoulder injuries and her "cow on ice" issues on clay to become one of the steeliest (and loudest) competitors in tennis and an unexpected clay court master too.
- Serena Williams (USA) 1995-present
- Current World No. 1. Has won 17 singles Grand Slams, 13 doubles and 2 mixed doubles. She has achieved the Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles (her doubles partner being her sister Venus), winning the Olympic gold in doubles 3 times. Is also the only female tennis player to earn over $40 million. In 2013, she made tennis history as the oldest female tennis player to hold the No. 1 ranking at the age of 31.
- Venus Williams (USA) 1994-present
- Has held No. 1 for 11 weeks. Has won 7 singles Grand Slams, 13 doubles and 2 mixed. She has also won an Olympic gold medal in singles and 3 in doubles, completing the Career Golden Slam with her younger sister Serena. In singles, she and Serena have been pitted against each other eight times in Grand Slam finals. In addition to their remarkable achievements, they are also distinctive for being the most successful Black players of any nationality, for either sex.
Retired ATP Players
- Andre Agassi (USA) 1986-2006
- Held No. 1 for 101 weeks. Won 8 Grand Slams. One of four people to achieve the singles Career Golden Slam. Played until 36, holding the record for the oldest player ranked No. 1 (at 33). Known earlier in his career for his wild power off the ground, which gradually changed to a more measured, steady baseline attack in his later years. Also known earlier for his wacky outfits and long blonde wig and later for his Bald of Awesome. Married to Steffi Graf.
- Arthur Ashe (USA) 1969-1980
- Won 3 Grand Slams. His highest career ranking under the official ATP rankings was No. 2, but he was accepted as the unofficial year-end No. 1 in 1975 by many non-computerized experts. He became the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam, his most memorable Slam victory being his stunning defeat of Jimmy Connors in the 1975 Wimbledon final through tactical play. In addition to his tennis achievements, he was well-known for his humanitarian and civil rights work in the United States and Africa. A humanitarian award and the main stadium at the US Open were named after him in his honor.
- Boris Becker (West Germany/Germany) 1984-1999
- Held No.1 for 12 weeks. Won 6 Grand Slams and an Olympic doubles gold medal. Shot to fame as a 17-year-old in 1985 when he became the then-youngest male Grand Slam singles champion with his Wimbledon victory. This was also notable as he was unseeded and a surprise winner. He was known for his eccentric displays of emotion and for frequently diving and throwing himself across the court.
- Björn Borg (Sweden) 1973-1983, 1991-1993
- Held No. 1 for 109 weeks. Won 11 Grand Slams. Arch-rival of John McEnroe, he was nicknamed the Iceman because of his steely and cool demeanour on court, while his looks gained him a reputation as the first 'rockstar tennis player'. Borg won 6 titles at Roland Garros, surpassed only by Nadal, and his tireless baseline game was the model for clay-courters in the years to come. He was also noted for 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles, a record he watched Federer equal in spite of previously saying he never wanted it touched.
- Michael Chang (USA) 1988-2003
- Won 1 Grand Slam. Known for being the first Asian male to win a major title (the 1989 French Open) at the age of 17, as the youngest ever male Grand Slam champion. Chang was renowned for his frightening foot speed and retrieval ability, and was the first American to win a major in his generation, before being followed by Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi.
- Jimmy Connors (USA) 1972-1996
- Held No. 1 for 268 weeks. Won 8 Grand Slam singles titles and 2 doubles. The first of the notable players to emerge at the advent of the Open Era, Jimmy Connors was a ferocious power baseliner whose heart and will were only matched by his pugnacious attitude towards others. Widely regarded as a tremendous asshole on court, Connors nevertheless is one of the game's greats, having played in three decades, with one of his most memorable moments being his run to the 1991 US Open semifinals at the age of 39. Over his long career he won a record 109 ATP singles titles.
- Rod Laver (Australia) 1962-1979
- Started playing before the advent of the Open Era and a reliable ranking system, but subjective rankings have him as the year-end No. 1 for 7 straight years from 1964 to 1970. Won 11 Grand Slams in singles, 6 in doubles and 3 in mixed, and a record total of 200 titles overall. Is the only player to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam twice, the first one as a pre-Open Era amateur in 1962 and the second one as an Open Era professional in 1969. Needless to say, he's often included on the short list of the greatest tennis players ever.
- Ivan Lendl (Czechoslovakia/USA) 1978-1994
- Held No. 1 for 270 weeks. Won 8 Grand Slams. Probably better regarded now then he was during his prime, Lendl took Connors's game plan and refined it, turning baseline tennis into a brutal slugfest and ushering in the era of the power-baseliner. Was not popular due to the politics of the time; at the heart of the Cold War, the robotic and seemingly emotionless Lendl was easy to root against, as Connors and McEnroe can attest to. Known for his power off the ground and his tendency to drill the ball straight at volleyers instead of attempting a passing shot. Formerly Andy Murray's coach, they are the only two players in ATP history to lose their first four Slam finals.
- John McEnroe (USA) 1978-1992
- Held No. 1 for 170 weeks. Won 7 Grand Slam singles titles and 10 doubles. He was a devastating serve and volleyer, but is best remembered for his notorious temper, frequent misconduct and especially the Catch Phrase "You cannot be serious!"note . He is the only player in the Open Era to be disqualified from a Grand Slam for Unsportsmanlike Conduct; the 1980 Australian Open, where one of his offences was staring at a line judge. Naturally he was quite a divisive figure, but is now more widely loved for his personality and continued passion for the sport. Regularly commentates on Grand Slam tournaments and is known to be creepily accurate in his predictions.
- Andy Roddick (USA) 2000-2012
- Held No. 1 for 13 weeks. Won 1 Grand Slam. Formerly held the record for the fastest serve, at 155 mph (250 km/h) before it was broken by Ivo Karlovic, who fired a 157 mph (251 km/h) serve in Davis Cup. Known for his friendly rivalry with Roger Federer (it became a running joke that Roddick could not get through a press conference or interview without Federer being mentioned). Also famed for his snark-filled press conferences and occasional but impressive racquet smashes.
- Pete Sampras (USA) 1988-2002
- Held No. 1 for 286 weeks. Won 14 Grand Slams. These were both records until Roger Federer stole his thunder. However, he still has the record for being ranked World No. 1 for the most years in a row, with six under his belt. Widely regarded as one of the greatest grass-courters of all time, holding a joint record seven Wimbledon titles (with Federer) and losing only one match there from 1993 to 2000.
Retired WTA Players
- Maureen Connolly Brinker (USA) 1951-1954
- Pre-ranking career. Won 9 Grand Slam singles titles and 3 doubles. Also known as Little Mo, she was the first woman and only the second person to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam in 1953. She lost only one set in these four tournaments. Her tennis career was cut short at the age of 19 by a traffic accident that crushed her right leg.
- Jennifer Capriati (USA) 1990-2004
- Held No. 1 for 17 weeks. Won 3 Grand Slams. Her fame comes from the rollercoaster nature of her career that began with her rocketing to stardom when she reached the French Open semifinals at just 14 years old and won the Olympic gold medal two years later, plunged with her struggles with depression and drugs, and ascended again with her inspiring tennis comeback at a more mature age until injuries forced her out of play. Her well-publicized troubles as a burnt-out teen prodigy also caused the Women's Tennis Association to pass the "Capriati Rule" limiting the number of tournaments players below the age of 18 could enter to prevent similar burnouts in the future.
- Margaret Court (Australia) 1960-1977
- Won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 19 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and a record 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She achieved the Calendar Year Grand Slam once in singles and twice in mixed doubles, the Career Boxed Setnote twice over and the Triple Crownnote on five occasions. She also holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles as a mother.
- Chris Evert (USA) 1972-1989
- Held No. 1 for 260 weeks. Won 18 Grand Slams, including a record 7 at the French Open and a record 6 at the U.S. Open. Also won 2 doubles Grand Slams. She was the year-ending World No. 1 singles player in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, and 1981. Her career win-loss record in singles matches of 1,309-146 (.900) is the best of any professional player in tennis history. Known for her calm, steely demeanor on court, she was nicknamed the "Ice Maiden" of tennis.
- Stefanie Marie "Steffi" Graf (West Germany/Germany) 1982-1999
- Held No. 1 for a record 377 weeks. Mr. Agassi's lovely wife, she won an Open Era record of 22 Grand Slams and achieved a Calendar Year Golden Slam in 1988; i.e., doing the Career Golden Slam in a single year. Is also the only player, male or female, to win every Slam at least four times. Nicknamed "Fräulein Forehand" by fans due to the power and accuracy of her signature shot.
- Justine Henin (Belgium) 1999-2008, 2010-2011
- Held No. 1 for 117 weeks. Won 7 Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in singles. She abruptly retired in mid-2008 when she was still ranked No. 1, only to unretire after her countrywoman Kim Clijsters made a successful comeback in 2009 until injuries and a lack of success caused her to retire again a year later. Is renowned for her clay-court prowess and vicious one-handed backhand, and is generally regarded as one of the few players who could challenge Serena Williams in her prime.
- Billie Jean King (USA) 1968-1983
- Won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She completed the Triple Crown three times. In 1973, she won the second (and possibly most famous) "Battle of the Sexes", a three-set promotional match against former Wimbledon men's singles champion Bobby Riggs. Long an advocate for women's equality in sport and society, she was the founder of the Women's Tennis Association, the Women's Sports Foundation, and owner of World Team Tennis, which was founded by her former husband, Larry King and three others. The complex that hosts the US Open is named after her.
- Li Na (China) 1999-2014
- Won 2 Grand Slams. Became the first player from an Asian country (male or female) to win a Slam when she won the 2011 French Open, and also won the 2014 Australian Open. Had a reputation for being able to hit anyone off the court on a good day and herself off the same court on a bad day, and also for giving some of the funniest interviews on tour. Retired in September 2014 due to persistent knee problems.
- Martina Navratilova (Czech Republic/USA) 1974-1994, 1999-2006
- Held No. 1 for 332 weeks. Won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Completed the Career Boxed Set and achieved the Triple Crown once. She is the only man or woman to have won 8 different tournaments at least 7 times and won a record 9 Wimbledon titles. She also had an extraordinarily long-lived career, finishing in the top 10 singles rankings for 20 straight years and winning her last Grand Slam title (mixed doubles at the 2006 US Open) at 49 years of age. Originally from Czechoslovakia, she asked for political asylum in the US in 1975, was stripped of her Czech citizenship (later restored by the Czech Republic), and became a US citizen in 1981. She also came out as a lesbian in 1981 and has been an activist for gay rights, filing a lawsuit in 1992 against Amendment 2 (a Colorado ballot proposition designed to deny legal protections to gays and lesbians that was later overturned in Romer v. Evans).
- Monica Seles (Yugoslavia/USA) 1988-1993, 1995-2003.
- Held No. 1 for 178 weeks. Won 9 Grand Slam singles titles. An incredible young woman who made the semifinals of her first Grand Slam tournament at the age of 14, before winning her first Slam two years later at Roland Garros. She won 7 Slams between 1990 and 1993, including an undefeated run at the Australian Open. Her career was tragically cut short in 1993 when she was stabbed in the back by a crazed Graf fan in Hamburg. She made a comeback in 1995 and went on to win the Australian Open the next year; however, she never regained her incredible form before the attack.note