The Australian Open women’s championships started in 1922. Since then many female players from different nations have won this slam after it was initially dominated by local players. In fact the last female player from Australia to lift the home slam was Christine O’Neil in 1978.
As the Australian Open 2020 starts in a week’s time, we take a look at 5 female players who have lifted the Daphne Akhurst memorial cup the most number of times in the Open Era.
Evonne Cawley won 7 Grand Slam titles in her career. Of these, 4 trophies came at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park. Goolagong won her first Australian Open title in 1974. Seeded 2nd in the tournament she defeated the then World Number 1 Chris Evert in 3 sets in the final, even handing her a 3rd set bagel.
It was the start of a mutual love affair that would last for next 4 years. Evonne again won the Australian Open championships in succession in 1975, 1976 and then claimed her 4th trophy in 1977. The former World Number 1 won her 4th Australian Open in 1977, seven months after giving birth to her child, a remarkable achievement which a handful of players have managed. She is thus regarded as one of the legends of the Australian tennis.
4. Monica Seles
If that fateful attack in Hamburg Open in 1993 would not have happened, Monica’s already impressive resume would have been much more powerful not only at the Australian Open but in every other tennis tournament. Monica, a perfect tennis prodigy won her 1st Australian Open in 1990 when aged 17. She would then win the slam again in 1991 and 1992 thus making it a hat-trick even before she had turned 20.
Seles who was forced to remain out of the tournament nursing the knife attack injury made a comeback in 1996. She stunned the tennis world by winning the title in her very first comeback year. Seles, a warrior on the tennis court had however been affected by the attack and consequent long absence from the game. She never won a slam again and finished her career with 9 Grand Slam titles, which included 4 trophies won at Melbourne Park in the Australian Open.
3. Steffi Graf
The greatest German tennis player ever, Steffi is regarded by many as the greatest Grand Slam player ever. The former World Number 1 reached the Australian Open final on 5 occasions, out of which she won the title 4 times. Graf’s only loss in the final came in 1993 against her arch-rival Monica Seles.
Steffi won the Australian Open first time in 1988 and then repeated her success in 1989 and 1990 before winning her fourth title in 1994. The German legend nicknamed as Fraulein Forehand was a benchmark of consistency in her career. She is the only player till now, male or female, to win each one of the 4 slams on at least 4 occasions as well as the only player ever to win 4 Grand Slams and the Olympic Gold Medal in the same year.
When Serena opens her campaign for Australian Open 2020 this January, she would be on the cusp of making more history. Serena has won 7 Australian Open championships so far. Her first success at Melbourne Park came in 2003. Seeded 1st in the tournament Serena defeated her elder sister and 2nd seed Venus Williams in an action packed intense 3 set final. More success would come down under in the years of 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015 and the latest in 2017.
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Serena also finished as a finalist in Australian Open 2016. Her success in the 2017 Australian Open singles gave Serena the honour of being the oldest female to win a singles Grand Slam. Serena would now have the 5th chance to equal Australian legend Margaret Court’s record of 24 slams, if she wins this year’s Australian Open. She could also improve her own record of the oldest female singles Grand Slam winner.
The younger Williams gave herself a perfect pre tournament preparation by winning the Auckland Open 250 series event last week. She is now among the top 3 favorites to claim her 8th Australian Open trophy in the 2020 Championships.
Margaret Court might not have won all her Australian Open trophies in the Open Era but it becomes impossible not to mention her in a conversation about this championship. The local legend and former World Number 1 had an unmatched run at Melbourne Park winning an astonishing amount of 11 titles, the most by any female player till date not only at the Australian Open but in any of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Court won her 1st Australian Open trophy in 1960 defeating fellow compatriot Jan Lehane in 2 straight sets. Court would then begin an unprecedented run at Melbourne Park where she remained unbeaten for 7 years winning 7 back to back titles till 1966. Court was absent from the tournament from the tournament in 1967 and finished as a finalist in 1968.
From 1969 as the Open Era started, Margaret Court would again have another dream run at her home slam. She again remained unbeaten for another 5 years, winning the title in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974. In 1973 she was absent from the championships. Court competed in the Australian Open for the last time in 1975 but managed to reach only the quarter-final stage.
Margaret Court is thus by far the most successful male or female champion at the Australian Open. She managed to win 11 titles in 14 attempts. Her record of 11 trophies at the single Grand Slam remained intact for 45 years before being equaled and improved by Rafael Nadal in the French Open.
Margaret Court still enjoys another great record of 24 singles Grand slam wins. This has not been equaled by any male or female player even after almost 5 decades. Honoring her achievements in the game of tennis, the Australian Open has named one of its best stadiums after this legend which is now called as the Margaret Court Arena.