Matt Zemek

I thought of calling this column “Women’s Tennis Open Era Facts You Should Know,” but as soon as the word “should” enters a discussion, it is easy to feel or perceive judgmentalism, and I don’t want to go there. Let’s simply stick with “facts worth knowing,” because there are more than 50 of them. In the spirit of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Open Era of professional tennis, let’s offer these 50 facts from women’s major tournaments. You are free to unearth more if you want to.

50 — Mima Jausovec of (then) Yugoslavia was the first woman from a country other than Australia, Great Britain, or the United States to win a women’s singles major title in the Open Era.

49 — Jausovec won the 1977 French Open, the 37th major played in the Open Era. The first 36 majors were divided thusly: Margaret Court of Australia won 11, Billie Jean King of the United States won 8, Chris Evert of the U.S. won 6, and Evonne Goolagong of Australia won 5, for a total of 30. The other six majors were divided among five players: Virginia Wade (GBR), Nancy Richey (USA), Ann Jones (GBR), Sue Barker (GBR), and Kerry Reid (AUS).

48 — From 1969 through 1973, a woman won at least three legs of the Grand Slam in a calendar year in four separate instances. Court won the Grand Slam in 1970 and won three legs of it in 1969 and 1973. King won three legs of the Grand Slam in 1972.

47 — The U.S. Open was played three times on green clay, from 1975 through 1977, following a long run on grass courts and preceding a long-term shift to hardcourts in 1978. Chris Evert won the U.S. Open all three times it was played on green clay, meaning that 10 of her 18 singles majors were won on clay. She won seven French Opens.

46 — From the start of 1982, either Evert or Navratilova won a string of 14 majors before Hana Mandlikova won the 1985 U.S. Open.

45 — From the 1988 Australian Open through the 1990 Australian Open, Steffi Graf won eight of nine majors, more than a third of her total of 22 major singles titles. From the 1995 French Open through the 1996 U.S. Open, Graf won six of seven majors.

44 — From 2007 through 2017, Serena Williams has won at least one major every year except one (2011, in which she lost to Samantha Stosur in the U.S. Open final).

43 — In every year of this current decade but one (2014), women’s tennis has produced a first-time major champion.

42 — Those first-time major champions by year: Francesca Schiavone, 2010; Li Na, Petra Kvitova, and Sam Stosur, 2011; Victoria Azarenka, 2012; Marion Bartoli, 2013; Flavia Pennetta, 2015; Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza, 2016; Jelena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens, 2017; Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep, 2018.

41 — Every major women’s singles champion but two in the Open Era has come from three continents: North America, Europe, and Australia. The two players: Li Na of China (Asia) and Gabriela Sabatini of Argentina (South America).

40 — A Williams sister won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon every year but twice from 2000 through 2010. The exceptions: Maria Shrapova in 2004 and Amelie Mauresmo in 2006.

39 — Serena Williams has won 12 major singles titles this decade. No one else has won more than two.

38 — This decade, 15 players other than Serena have won majors — seven with two apiece, eight with one, for a total of 21 majors.

37 — Steffi Graf is the only woman to have at least four major singles titles at each of the four majors.

36 — Evert won at least one major singles title every year from  1974 through 1986.

35 — Kim Clijsters vs. Justine Henin in the 2003 French Open women’s final, an all-Belgian final, marked the first Open Era women’s singles final matching players from the same country when those countries weren’t Australia or the United States. Every previous Open Era final between two women from the same country had been all-Australian or all-American.

34 — Martina Navratilova made nine straight Wimbledon singles finals from 1982-1990. Put in perspective, Roger Federer made “only” (yeah, “ONLY”) seven straight from 2003-2009.

33 — Chris Evert was 52-2 in major-tournament quarterfinal matches.

32 — Flowing from fact No. 33 are a few related stats on Evert at the majors. This one: Evert failed to make the semifinals in only four of the 56 major singles tournaments she entered — once at the French Open, once at Wimbledon, and once at the U.S. Open.

31 — Another Evert fact: 3 of the 4 times Evert failed to make the semis at a major came after turning 32 years old.

30 — One more Evert fact, preceded by a brief set of notes: Her first major tournament (the 1971 U.S. Open at age 16) produced a semifinal run. It took 12 years and 33 majors played for Evert to finally fall short of a semifinal at Wimbledon in 1983 (lost to Kathy Jordan in the third round). Evert then went semifinals-or-better at her next 14 majors. Yes, it’s real: Evert made the semis or better in 47 of her first 48 major singles tournaments played.

29 — The only time the Wimbledon women’s final had the same matchup three years in a row? Chris and Martina? No. Venus and Serena? No. Martina and Steffi, 1987-1989.

28 — In the first 10 years of the Open Era (1968-1977), only two players from nations other than Great Britain, the United States, and Australia reached Wimbledon singles finals: Olga Morozova of Russia, 1974; Betty Stove, The Netherlands, 1977.

27 — In the first 12 years of the Open Era (1968-1979), not one women’s finalist at the U.S. Open came from a nation outside the Britain-USA-Australia trio. Hana Mandlikova of (then) Czechoslovakia in 1980 broke the string.

26 — The only two women in the Open Era to win the French Open singles championship in three straight years: Monica Seles (1990-1992) and Justine Henin (2005-2007).

25 — Martina Hingis’s best major was the Australian Open. (NOTE: The tournament did not have fields of 128 before 1988, so Australian Opens before then are not on par with other major tournaments and are therefore not part of this article.) Hingis won three of her five majors in Melbourne and reached six straight finals Down Under, from 1997-2002.

24 —  Evert and Williams both won the U.S. Open four straight times. Williams, though, refers to a family’s four-year reign, not one person’s four-year run in New York. Serena won the 1999 and 2002 Opens, Venus the 2000 and 2001 Opens. Evert won her four titles in a row from 1975-1978.

Pioneers: The only members of their country in the Open Era to play in a women’s singles major final

2018 Nature Valley International - 27 Jun
Both Images – Jimmie 48

23 — Latvia: Jelena Ostapenko

22 — Belarus: Victoria Azarenka

21 — Croatia: Iva Majoli

20 — China: Li Na

19 — Slovakia: Dominika Cibulkova

18 — Switzerland: Martina Hingis

17 — Argentina: Gabriela Sabatini

16 — The Netherlands: Betty Stove

15 — Poland: Agnieszka Radwanska

14 — Canada: Eugenie Bouchard

13 — Denmark: Caroline Wozniacki


Called Shots: The six women in the Open Era who won in their last appearance at one of the four majors

12 — Flavia Pennetta (2015) is the only U.S. Open women’s singles champion in the Open Era to win in her last appearance.

11 — Steffi Graf won her last French Open in 1999.

10 — Margaret Court won her last French Open in 1973.

9 — Li Na won her last Australian Open in 2014.

8 — Ann Jones won her last Wimbledon in 1969.

7 — Marion Bartoli won her last Wimbledon in 2013. (If she plays another Wimbledon, of course, this distinction will cease to exist.)


6 — The three women in the Open Era who have lost the most major finals: Evert with 16, Navratilova with 14, Evonne Goolagong with 11.

5 — Number of major finals Evert and Navratilova lost to each other: Evert lost 10 times to Martina in major finals, while Martina lost only four times.

4 — Navratilova went 2-4 in six major finals against Steffi Graf.

3 — Number of three-set finals at the three non-Australian Open majors in the Open Era: French Open 20, Wimbledon 18, U.S. Open 15.

2 — Number of three set finals at those same majors after 2001: French Open 3, Wimbledon 4, U.S. Open 3.

1 — Something for Venus and Serena to shoot for: Billie Jean King, 39 — at Wimbledon in 1983 — is the oldest woman to reach a major semifinal in the Open Era.


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