Like their counterparts at the ATP, the women’s tennis players have also produced some incredible moments and memories in the Open Era. The last 50 years have records towered and tumbled, top players stumbled and humbled in. We now take a look at the 5 moments that shaped the glory of Women’s tennis since that start of the Open Era 50 years back.
5. Evert–Navratilova Rivalry
Evert and Navratilova’s 15 year long rivalry was one of the greatest in tennis history and undoubtedly greatest one in WTA history. These greatest of the foes who were equally great friends off the court played 80 matches between then, twice the number of matches Federer and Nadal have contested. While Evert was dominant early on in the rivalry winning 24 of their initial 30 encounters, it was Navratilova who had the last laugh finishing 43-37 in their total 80 matches.
The two greats have 36 singles slams between them. They contested in 14 slams finals another record which no other tennis duo has matched thus far. Like Federer and Nadal did for a few years, Evert and Navratilova also used to dominate Clay and Grass between them with Chris being crowned as Queen of Roland Garros and Martina ruling the courts of Wimbledon as a Monarch.
4. Steffi Graf 1988 Golden Slam
The year 1988 was very special for Women’s tennis. That year the then Number 1 player in the World Steffi Graf would go on to do what was never done before and has never been repeated since in Men’s or Women’s tennis. Graf would win all 4 slams one by one that year and by the US Open end had finished the Calendar Slam becoming the 2nd Women to do so after Margaret Court.
However, a greater step in the glory still awaited in October that year. Graf won the Gold Medal in the Seoul Olympics held that year. This has famously dubbed as the Golden Slam and Graf was just 18 years of age when she did it. Steffi’s achievement remains standalone till date in tennis.
3. Monica Seles‘ stabbing incident in 1993
In 1993 the Hamburg Open saw what could be described as the darkest day on the tennis court. The then World Number 1 Monica Seles of Yugoslavia was stabbed by a self styled Steffi Graf fanatic. Seles had dominated tennis between 1990 and 1993 start winning 8 of the 12 slams.
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She had also beaten his German rival Graf on many occasions and the fan claimed that he was angry over Graf being beaten by Seles. Monica was forced to remain away from the game for almost 32 months and when she came back she was not the same player anymore, having lost her prime due to this unforeseen incident.
2. 15 Year Old Martina Hingis Wins a Grand Slam
Martina Hingis could be described as a perfect example of a tennis protégée. The German sensation in 1996 Australian Open doubles became the youngest ever player to win a slam. Martina was then only 15 and she teamed up with Czech player Helena Suková. Hingis soon started ruling in singles also and became the youngest ever World Number 1 in singles.
Hingis would have 5 Slams ever before she turned 19 and was expected by many to be the greatest ever in tennis when she retired. However constant injuries derailed Martina’s career and she was forced to concentrate more on doubles and mixed doubles where she won 20 slams collectively.
Rise of The Williams Sisters
Tennis has seen many famous siblings grace the game but no other duo has made a name for themselves both in popularity and success as have Serena and Venus Williams. The siblings have now been ruling tennis for 20 years. They have both been World Number 1 in both singles and doubles arena. They have collectively won 30 singles Grand Slams, 28 doubles Grand Slams, 2 singles Olympics Gold Medals and 6 doubles Olympics Gold Medals. This makes them the most successful siblings in the history of tennis.
The Williams sisters have also been highly popular for standing up against racial discrimination and openly voicing their support to black people’s struggle for equality. Serena, the younger Williams is also on the quest to displace Margaret Court as the winner of most Grand Slams in female tennis.