Wimbledon 2023 is underway with one notable absentee from the women’s draw.
Serena Williams said last year that she was “evolving away from tennis” and, while this does not necessarily mean we’ve seen the last of her on a court professionally, the smart money would be on an era-defining run of Grand Slam triumphs stopping at 23.
Since her most recent success at the 2017 Australian Open, Williams has contested 13 Grand Slam events and four finals in search of a 24th title to draw level with Margaret Court at the top of the all-time standings.
While it once felt inevitable that Williams would surpass Court, the time might now have passed for a 41-year-old.
Nevertheless, Williams’ phenomenal achievements place her among the very best to have ever picked up a racquet. Here, we have look at where she ranks among the greatest women’s tennis players in history.
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6. Billie Jean King
King was a dominant force at Wimbledon, winning six of her 12 slam singles crowns at SW19 between 1966 and 1975. She beat fellow great Evonne Goolagong in straight sets at the 1972 French Open to complete the career Grand Slam and went on to claim Wimbledon and the US Open in the same year, having opted not to play the Australian Open, where she was champion in 1968. Including doubles, she won a remarkable 39 major titles.An aggressive, hard-hitting player who was fast around the court, King also stood as a pioneering campaigner for gender equality in tennis at the dawn of the professional era. She was a trailblazer as part of the Virginia Slims Circuit, which ultimately served as a precursor to the formation of the WTA Tour.
5. Chris Evert
A model of remarkable consistency, Evert reached the semifinals or better in 52 of the 56 Grand Slam tournaments she contested over the course of her career, winning 18 singles titles. A sublime, graceful operator from the baseline, Evert was truly masterful on clay, winning the French Open a record seven times, doing so twice either side of her three-year absence from Roland-Garros due to competing in the World Team Tennis league.Had it not been for this and running into her great rival Martina Navratilova, Evert would have a few more slams to her name, with a haul of three Wimbledons and two Australian Opens alongside a joint-record six US Opens, where she won four in a row between 1975 and 1978.
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4. Margaret Court
Along with leading the all-time standings for slam titles in the entire sport, with 24 singles and 64 in total, Court also holds the distinction of being the first woman in the Open Era to win the calendar Grand Slam, completing a clean sweep of all four of the big ones in 1970. Court also won three out of four in 1969, only coming up short at Wimbledon, meaning the 1971 Australian Open was her sixth consecutive slam success and an eighth out of nine contested. Her home slam in Australia was Court’s favourite and accounts for 11 of her 24 major singles titles overall, although it should be noted that some of the world’s leading players neglected to add it to their schedule during this period.