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15 Greatest Female Tennis Players of All Time (Ranked)

Throughout women’s tennis history, plenty of standout performers has dominated during particular stretches. Some have accumulated more titles than others, and that helps them land a spot on a top 15 list like this.

Winning Grand Slam titles in singles is definitely the main statistic viewed in this instance, but other factors play a role as well. Who are the greatest 15 players in women’s tennis history? Love it or hate it, this is how the list looks right now.

15. Kim Clijsters

  • Grand Slams: 4
  • Career Titles: 41

There are younger players making a hard push for this 15th spot on the list. There are even retired players like Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, and others who could make a claim as well. However, Kim Clijsters’ overall game and success get her on the top 15 list for now.

Clijsters finished her career with four Grand Slam singles titles, Her overall play and athleticism made her a threat on all surfaces, but she did particularly well on hard courts. All four of her Grand Slams came on hard courts, as her movement was just a little sharper.

Her success as a doubles player also plays into this ranking. She was also one of the most successful moms in tennis history, winning two of her four Grand Slams after giving birth.

14. Maria Sharapova

  • Grand Slams: 5
  • Career Titles: 36

There’s been some controversy surrounding Maria Sharapova in the last few years, but it’s hard to deny all that she’s accomplished on the courts during her prime.

She wrapped up her career with five Grand Slam singles titles, and became the poster child for the modern baseline type of tennis.

Her tall, lean body allowed her to hit flat and hard on fast surfaces. She didn’t have a ton of success on clay, but she showed everyone not named Serena Williams just how good she was on grass and hard.

13. Maureen Connolly

  • Grand Slams: 9

From 1952 to 1953, there was one women’s tennis player winning seemingly everything. Maureen Connolly won 6 straight Grand Slam singles titles in those two years, but a horseback riding accident derailed her career at the tender age of 19.

There’s no telling how many titles Connolly could have accumulated during her career. She played a modern style of game in the 1950s, hitting with power from the baseline instead of trying to get to the net all the time.

It’s frustrating that the world never had a chance to see her play at a high level after her accident.

12. Helen Wills Moody

  • Grand Slams: 19

The game’s certainly changed, but it would be unfair to completely ignore the success of some of the older players. In the 1920s and 1930s, Helen Wills Moody was in a class of her own.

She was the number one ranked player in the world for close to a decade overall, and her 19 Grand Slam singles championships put her in a very high class.

Obviously, her game is much different from how it is played almost a century later, but she added legitimacy to the sport and became inspirational for future women players to see that they can make a career out of it.

11. Martina Hingis

  • Grand Slams: 5
  • Career Titles: 43

The child prodigy was barely a teenager when she first hit the tennis world by storm. She finished with five Grand Slam singles titles, but she won 20 more as a doubles or mixed doubles partner.

Known as a counter-puncher throughout most of her career, she used the pace others generated against them.

There were some ups and downs for Hingis throughout her career, but she eventually found ways to crack through and make the most of winning opportunities. All in all, it was a very memorable career for the Swiss standout.

10. Justine Henin

  • Grand Slams: 7
  • Career Titles: 43

In an era that started to require women athletes to be bigger and stronger than ever, Justine Henin was the exception to the rule.

She is one of the smallest recent champions in tennis history, and she played with a powerful one-handed backhand rarely seen in the women’s game. She finished her career with seven Grand Slam titles in total.

Justine didn’t have a particularly long prime, but she was a matchup nightmare for just about any player out there. On clay, her ability to move around the court and create different angles made her particularly challenging to beat.

9. Evonne Goolagong Cawley

  • Grand Slams: 9

The Australian was one of the first stars of the Open Era in women’s tennis. She excelled in singles and doubles, dominating particularly at her home Grand Slam in Melbourne.

Seven Grand Slam titles and 86 career titles put her in the upper echelon of a sport. Maybe she didn’t have the longevity of some of the others, but she was an early standout no one wanted to face.

8. Venus Williams

  • Grand Slams: 7
  • Career Titles: 49

Many forget that it was Venus Williams who was the first Williams sister to take the world by storm and play at a high level. In 1997, she became a force to be reckoned with, excelling on hard and grass courts.

If not for Serena Williams, Venus would’ve likely had a lot more success in singles. Still, seven Grand Slam titles is nothing to gloss over, and the sisters had plenty of success as teammates in doubles.

Her days of winning Grand Slam singles titles are probably over, but they might still add a Grand Slam doubles title or two before it’s all over.

7. Billie Jean King

  • Grand Slams: 12
  • Career Titles: 67

There might not be a more important person in women’s tennis history than Billie Jean King. Even non-sports fans remember her for participating in the Battle of the Sexes against Bobby Riggs. When she won, she became a crossover celebrity that added legitimacy to the women’s tour.

Her career success isn’t too shabby either. She finished her career winning 12 Grand Slam singles titles, and added 15 more between doubles and mixed doubles.

Billie’s success on and off the court led to her getting the Billie Jean King Center named after her in New York City for the U.S. Open.

6. Monica Seles

  • Grand Slams: 9
  • Career Titles: 53

As great as Monica Seles turned out to be, many wonders just how much higher she’d be on this list if not for the unfortunate stabbing in 1993. She was just starting the prime of her career, and she ended up missing roughly 2 years afterward.

Having nine Grand Slam titles is impressive, but eight of those came before the stabbing. Nothing should be assumed, but it seems likely that she would have a few more titles to her name without that career-changing moment.

She played a modern style of tennis before it became popular, and that helped her outclass many of her opponents.

5. Margaret Court

  • Grand Slams: 24

Margaret Court still holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles with 24. She won at least three times in all four majors, solidifying her reputation as one of the most well-rounded players during her prime.

However, women’s tennis was hardly what it is today, and that probably hurts her a little bit in the all-time rankings. Her dominance came in the 1960s before the Open Era, and competition worldwide just wasn’t as strong.

She’s still an icon in Australia, with one of the main courts at the Australian Open named after her.

4. Chris Evert

  • Grand Slams: 18
  • Career Titles: 157

Watching old clips of Chris Evert doesn’t tell the entire story. Yes, she was never a particularly intimidating player, nor does she play with the power of the modern player.

However, she was a very skilled player who could put the ball anywhere on the court and have success. Her ability to adapt her game to different surfaces made her nearly impossible to beat in her prime.

Clay was her best surface, losing just 22 matches during her entire career. In total, she finished with 18 Grand Slam titles, and 157 career titles as a professional.

3. Martina Navratilova 

  • Grand Slams: 18
  • Career Titles: 168

A lot of numbers out there would show that Martina Navratilova is the most accomplished tennis player of all time.

She has a total of 49 Grand Slam titles between singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, and 168 career singles titles to her name. She played pro for over 30 years, and dominated on any surface thrown her way.

At this point on the list, it’s just a matter of what is stressed more. She didn’t win as many Grand Slams in singles as the two ahead of her, and that knocked her down a little.

She’s arguably the most well-rounded women’s tennis player of all time, and even putting her number one overall would not be a huge stretch.

2. Steffi Graf

  • Grand Slams: 22
  • Career Titles: 107

Putting Steffi Graf at number one on this list would not be wrong. After all, she has 22 Grand Slam singles titles, and 107 career titles to her name. Her 1988 year might be the best in tennis history, as she won all four majors while also winning gold at the Olympics.

With no real holes in her game, she dominated for a long time in her sport. She’s now one half of the most powerful tennis couple in the sport’s history, as she married Andrei Agassi.

1. Serena Williams

  • Grand Slams: 23
  • Career Titles: 73

Given her credentials and the overall growth of the women’s tennis game, Serena Williams tops this list as the greatest female player of all time.

She has 23 Grand Slam titles in singles, and still has the potential to add to the total. She’s also dominated in doubles with her sister Venus from time to time.

It’s a blend of power and speed that modernized the game in general. She’s also inspired a new crop of players who are just now starting to come on the scene to open up the game for years to come.