10 Best Female Tennis Players of All Time
When it comes to the best female tennis player of all time, many consider the case to be closed due to the sheer dominance of Serena Williams in recent years.
However, our analysis suggests a bit of a different story, with her results overshadowing the past performance of other female tennis players who may deserve the title.
To come to our conclusions and rank the best female tennis players of all time, we performed an in-depth analysis of the game’s most accomplished female athletes.
Below you’ll find our selection, along with some data points that highlight why these female tennis players deserve to make our list.
*Please note that not all the stats included above are relevant for consideration as the best player ever. Some, such as prize money and whether they were left or right-handed, are there for fun.
**Stats for active players are current as of November 2021.
***Title totals include pre and post Open Era where relevant.
10. Venus Williams
Photo Credit: @Venuseswilliams
Born on June 17, 1980, in California, Venus Williams is an American tennis player who’s achieved considerable success in her long career on the WTA tour.
Venus turned pro at the early age of 14 in 1994 when she played her first WTA tournament. She played a limited schedule for the following two years but accumulated a few solid wins, including her first top 20 victory in 1995.
Her breakout year was in 1997, when she made it deep into a few tournaments, including the finals of the US Open, where she lost to Martina Hingis. In 1998, she won her first WTA tournament, which she followed up with a few additional titles that year.
In 1999, Venus saw quite a bit of additional success, which would push her year-end ranking to No. 3. However, it wasn’t until 2000 when Venus would capture her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, one of seven total – five at Wimbledon and two at the US Open. During the summer, Venus also claimed her first and only singles gold medal at the Olympics in Sydney.
In 2002, Venus ascended to the world No. 1 ranking for the first time, a position she held briefly throughout her career for a total of eleven weeks.
Beyond her success in singles, Venus achieved stellar results in doubles with fourteen Grand Slam titles and three gold medals.
Although her career has slowed, Venus Williams competes in a limited number of tournaments on the WTA tour and has not yet made it clear when she intends to retire.
Regardless, she’s well deserving of the title as one of the best female tennis players of all time.
9. Evonne Goolagong
Photo Credit: @TennisHalloFame
Born on July 31, 1951, Evonne Goolagong is an Australian tennis player whose results in the 1970s at the start of the Open Era have earned her recognition as one of the best to play the sport.
Her professional career started around the age of 16, and throughout her career, she achieved impressive results, perhaps most notably including her seven Grand Slam titles.
In 1967, she played at the Australian Open, her first Grand Slam event. However, her first Grand Slam victory came a few years later at the French Open in 1971, which she quickly followed up with a win at Wimbledon as well.
She’d claim four additional titles at the Australian Open and another her final at Wimbledon again in 1980. She also made it to 11 other Grand Slam finals, where her opponent defeated her.
In 1971, Goolagong managed to reach the world No. ranking, but despite her success, she only held that post for two weeks throughout her career.
In total, Goolagong won 86 titles, with 68 of them coming in the Open Era. She also had an impressive career record of 704-165, winning 81% of her matches.
Goolagong was also proficient in doubles with six Grand Slam victories and helped her country win three Fed Cup titles in 1971, 1973, and 1974.
8. Justine Henin
Photo Credit: @TennisHalloFame
Born on June 1, 1982, Justine Henin is a Belgium tennis player who turned pro in 1999 at 17.
Henin saw success immediately on the WTA tour, winning her first tour event as a wildcard at the Belgian Open in Antwerp.
However, it wasn’t until 2001 that her ranking began to skyrocket due to her consistent performance. She appeared in the semi-finals at the French Open and competed against Venus Williams in the finals of Wimbledon. During that year, she also managed to help Belgium win the Fed Cup.
In 2003, Henin claimed her first Grand Slam title at the French Open, making her the first Belgian ever to win a Grand Slam. That same year she also claimed the US Open title. Henin would claim seven Grand Slam titles, one at the Australian Open, four at the French Open, and two at the US Open. She also appeared in five finals, where her opponent defeated her.
Toward the end of 2003, Henin managed to find her way to the world No. 1 ranking, which she held for 117 weeks throughout her career.
In 2004, Henin won the Australian Open, but an infection kept her off the court for much of the year. Despite that, she did manage to win a singles gold medal at the Athens Summer Olympics.
In 2006, Henin was everywhere, making it to the finals of every Grand Slam tournament but only coming up with a win at the French Open. She followed up those results with an excellent 2007, where she won the French Open for the third consecutive year and the US Open.
Throughout her career, she won 43 titles and had a career record of 525-115 for a winning rate of 82%.
7. Monica Seles
Photo Credit: @TennisHalloFame
Born on December 2, 1973, in Florida, Monica Seles represented Yugoslavia early in her career and the United States – she became a US citizen in 1994.
Seles started her tennis career early at the age of 14 in 1988, but she officially turned pro the following year, where she won her first title and reached the semi-finals of the French Open, her first Grand Slam tournament.
Monica Seles returned to the French Open a year later after a solid start to the season and captured her first Grand Slam victory defeating world No. 1 Stefi Graf. In the three years that followed, Seles was dominant, winning six of the eight Grand Slam events in 1991 and 1992.
She also won the Australian Open to start 1993 before a deranged fan stabbed her in April. Despite the wound healing relatively quickly, the attack took its toll on Seles, who didn’t return to the tour until 1995, resulting in her missing ten Grand Slam events during that time.
Seles claimed her final Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 1996 and was a successful player until 2003, although her official retirement didn’t come until 2008.
In March 1991, Seles replaced Stefi Graf as world No. 1, and she held that position for 178 weeks throughout her career. She also won a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in Syndey, Australia.
During her career, Seles won 53 titles and ended with a winning record of 595-122.
6. Billie Jean King
Photo Credit: @TennisHalloFame
Born November 22, 1943, in America, Billie Jean King has had a tremendous impact on the sport during and after her retirement.
She turned pro in 1959 and first competed in the US Open at the age of 15, and although her opponent eliminated her in the first round, she showed great promise. King returned the following year and made it to the third round.
However, despite significant success over the next few years, King didn’t win her first Grand Slam title until 1966 at Wimbledon. In total, she would win 12 Grand Slam titles, including one at the Australian Open, one at the French Open, six at Wimbledon, and four at the US Open.
In 1966, King became the world No. 1 for the first time, and she was able to maintain that position for a total of 221 weeks throughout her career.
Without a doubt, King’s most successful years were from 1966 to 1975. However, she remained competitive through her later years, even becoming the oldest player on the WTA tour to win a title at 39. She played her final singles match in 1983 at the Australian Open
When it came to team competition, King helped lead the United States to 11 victories, four of which she was the captain. She was also highly accomplished in doubles with 16 women’s and 11 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles.
Throughout her career, King ended up with a 695-155 record for a win rate of 81.76%. The result earned her a total of 129 titles, 67 that were during the Open Era.
5. Chris Evert
Photo Credit: @TennisHalloFame
Born on December 21, 1954, Chris Evert is an American tennis player who competed from 1972 – 1989.
However, Evert posted a handful of impressive results as early as 1970 while competing as a junior, including a win over world No. 1 Margaret Court in a small clay court tournament held in Charlotte, NC.
In 1974, Chris Evert claimed her first Grand Slam victories at the Fench Open and Wimbledon, which sparked a 13-year string where she won at least one Grand Slam event for a total of 18, which no other player has accomplished since.
Evert won two titles at Wimbledon, seven at the French Open, three at Wimbledon, and six at the US Open. Evert is the only female tennis player to have won seven titles at the French Open.
Impressively, Evert was also the runner-up at 16 Grand Slams. It’s worth noting she also competed during a period where many players didn’t compete as often in the Australian Open. During the 13 years that she won at least one Grand Slam event, she was absent from the event seven times.
In 1975, Chris Evert reached the world No. 1 ranking, and she earned this spot for a total of 260 weeks throughout her career. She’s also the second oldest woman behind Serena Williams to have held this position.
Another area that highlights Chris Everts thoroughly impressive career is her record of 1309-146, for a 90% win rate – the second-highest of all-time behind Margaret Court, but the highest during the Open Era.
In addition to her results in singles, Chris Evert also achieved success in doubles with three Grand Slam titles. Furthermore, she helped the United States win eight Fed Cup titles, including six consecutive from 1977-1982. No other female tennis player has won eight.
4. Martina Navratilova
Photo Credit: @TennisHalloFame
Born on October 18, 1956, in Czechoslovakia, Martina Navratilova also competed as a US citizen after receiving her citizenship in 1981.
In 1974, Navratilova played on tour and won her first title at the age of 17. However, she didn’t officially turn pro until 1975, when she was runner up at the Australian Open and French Open.
A few years later, in 1978, Navratilova won her first singles Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, defeating Chris Evert. Like Evert, Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including three at the Australian Open, two at the French Open, nine at Wimbledon, and four at the US Open. She is the only player in history to win nine titles at Wimbledon. Furthermore, she contested 14 Grand Slam finals, where she was the runner-up.
In addition to her first Grand Slam title, she also claimed the world’s No. 1 ranking for the first time in 1968. Throughout her career, she held that ranking for a total of 332 weeks, second only to Stefi Graf.
Navratilova is the record holder for the most titles in the Open Era with 167 and ended her career with a 1,442-219 record for an impressive win rate of 86.8%.
Outside of singles, Navratilova has one of the most impressive doubles careers in history. She holds an astounding 177 career titles, including 31 Grand Slam victories.
3. Margaret Court
Photo Credit: @OnThisDayShe
Born on July 16, 1942, in Australia, Margaret Court is a right-handed tennis player who played with a one-handed backhand and holds some of the most significant records in women’s tennis.
In 1960, at the age of 18, Court began playing professional tennis and quickly enjoyed success, including her first major title at the Australian Open, then named the Australian Championships. Since then, Court racked up more Grand Slam titles than any player in history – male or female.
Her Grand Slam titles include 11 at the Australian Open, five at the French Open, three at Wimbledon, and five at the US Open totaling 24. Her most notable record related to Grand Slam titles was her 1970 performance, where she won all four Grand Slam events in the calendar year. She narrowly missed that feat before the Open Era in 1965, only losing in the French Open finals.
In 1962, Margaret Court achieved a career-high ranking of world No. 1, which she held for 325 weeks, only surpassed by Martina Navratilova and Stefi Graf.
Court holds the record for the most singles titles at 192. However, only 62 of these occurred in the Open Era, so she doesn’t have the achievement during this period.
Regarding her match singles win percentage, Court stands alone, holding the best record at 91.69% through her career and 91.17% during the Open Era.
As if her success on the singles court wasn’t impressive enough, Court was also highly accomplished in doubles with 19 women’s doubles Grand Slam titles and 21 mixed doubles titles. In total, she holds the most overall Grand Slam titles of any player at 64. She was so successful across multiple disciplines that she swept Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mix doubles at the same tournament five times, referred to as the Triple Crown in tennis.
Margaret Court retired in 1977 and earned a spot in the International Tennis Hall of fame in 1979. Without a doubt, she’s one of the greatest female tennis players ever.
2. Serena Williams
Photo Credit: @serenawilliams
Born on September 26, 1981, Serena Williams is an American tennis player who plays right-handed with a two-handed backhand and is one of the most prominent players of all time.
Serena was ready to play at the professional level when she was 14 in 1995. However, she was denied the opportunity by the WTA due to age restrictions. Despite that, she did compete in a professional tournament that year but didn’t perform well.
Serena didn’t return to compete again on the professional tour until 1997 when she was 16, and although it was slow going to start the year, she defeated two top 10 players in November. In 1998, she didn’t earn any titles, but she saw plenty of success, including a top 20 ranking.
Serena’s first title came in early 1999, and later that year, she also claimed her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open. Although it would be a few years before her next Grand Slam title in 2002, Serena has claimed 23 throughout her ongoing career. She holds seven titles at the Australian Open, three at the French Open, seven at Wimbledon, and six at the US Open.
In July of 2002, Serena first hit the world No. 1 ranking and, to date, has held that position for 319 weeks. Furthermore, she tied Steffi Graf’s record for 186 consecutive weeks at No. 1 – the most ever. She holds the fifth-most career titles of any woman in the Open Era at 73 and has a record 855-152 in matches for a win rate of 84.9%.
When it comes to the Olympics, Serena is also highly accomplished. She holds three Gold medals in doubles with her sister Venus and earned a singles gold at the 2012 London Olympics.
Outside of singles, Serena has had a successful career in doubles, primarily competing with her sister. She holds 14 Grand Slam titles in doubles and two in mixed doubles. In team competition, Serena helped the United States to a win in 1999 at the Fed Cup.
Serena Williams’ career continues, but injuries have hampered her success and the frequency that she competes. She’s placed particular emphasis on Grand Slam events as she attempts to tie Margaret Court for the most Grand Slams of any player in history.
1. Steffi Graf
Photo Credit: @usopen
Born on June 14, 2969, Steffi Graf is a German tennis player. Steffi is right-handed with a one-handed backhand and our pick for the greatest female tennis player ever.
Toward the end of 1982, Graf turned pro, and she played her first full season the following year at the surprisingly young age of 13. Although she was young, she delivered solid performances and made deep runs at several tournaments. In 1986, she won her first tournament defeating Chris Evert, one of the most dominant players at the time.
A year later, in 1987, Stefi Graf won her first Grand Slam tournament at the French Open, defeating Martina Navratilova, another top player and world No. 1. She’d only lose one more match the entire year to Navratilova, going an astounding 75-2 for the year.
The following year was one of her most impressive, winning all four Grand Slam events and a gold medal in singles at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Steffi Graf is the only player in history, male or female, to achieve this feat in a calendar year.
Graf earned 22 Grand Slam titles throughout her career, including four at the Australian Open, six at the French Open, seven at Wimbledon, and five at the US Open.
Graf became the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player in August of 1987, not long after her first Grand Slam title and final appearances in Wimbledon and the US Open. She held that position for a record 377 weeks during her career, with 186 consecutive weeks, a record she shares with Serena Williams.
Stefi Graf is third all-time on the title leaderboard with 107 and has a singles career record of 900-115 for a win rate of 88.7%.
In addition to her gold medal in the 1988 Olympics, she earned a bronze in doubles that year. Then, in 1992 at the Barcelona Summer Olympics, she claimed silver in singles.
Although Stefi didn’t play doubles frequently, she has a women’s Grand Slam to her name, which she earned in 1988 alongside Gabriela Sabatini.
Stefi Graf retired from professional tennis in 1999 and earned her spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.
As challenging as it is to make a list of the best female tennis players of all time, there has to be a cutoff, despite many other players’ significant achievements.
To that end, here are a few additional women that didn’t make the top ten, but we felt worth mentioning.