Women in Sports: Tennis

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  • Mary Ewing Outerbride is credited with introducing lawn tennis to the United States in 1874.
  • The first American woman to win the women's singles title at Wimbledon was May Sutton Bundy. She won in 1904 and in 1907. In 1930 she fractured her leg while playing at the U.S. Open at Forest Hills and played the rest of her match using a crutch, before finally losing.
  • Hazel Hotchkiss Wrightman is nicknamed the “Queen Mother of Tennis” because she dramatically changed women's tennis. In 1903 in San Francisco, California, she introduced volley and net play. Prior to this the game was played from the baseline without much movement.
  • Althea Gibson is credited with breaking the race barrier in tennis. In 1950 she became the first African American woman to play at the prestigious USTA at Forest Hills.
  • Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly of the United States was the first woman to win the Grand Slam of tennis. In 1953 she won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open. Only two other women have accomplished this feat: Margaret Court of Australia in 1970, and Steffi Graf of Germany in 1988.
  • Tennis player Billie Jean King was one of the organizers of the 1970 Virginia Slims Tennis Tournament, the first tournament for women professional tennis players. The following year she became the first female athlete in any sport to earn more than $100,000 in a single season.
  • Martina Navratilova is the winner of the most singles titles in history with 167. She retired from tennis in 1994 but made a comeback and still competes on the doubles circuit. Navratilova and Steffi Graf each have earned over $20 million over their amazing careers.
  • Sisters Venus and Serena Williams went head-to-head in the 1999 Lipton Championships finals, the first time since 1884 that sisters met in a major final. Venus, then 18, beat Serena, 17.
  • On Sept. 11, 1999 Serena Williams won the women's singles title at the U.S. Open and became the first African American woman since Althea Gibson to win a Grand Slam title. The next day she teamed up with her sister, Venus, to win the U.S. Open doubles title.
  • In 2000, it was Venus' turn to shine as she won her first two grand slam singles events, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and added two olympic gold medals (singles and doubles w/Serena) for good measure. She continued her dominance in 2001, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open again. At the 2001 U.S. Open, she battled sister Serena in the finals.
  • In 2005, Californian Lindsay Davenport ended the season with the number one ranking, a feat she also accomplished in 1998, 2001, and 2004.
  • In 2007, Davenport won her 55th career WTA Tour singles title. This win places her at number 7 on the list of all-time title-winners.
  • In 2012, Maria Sharapova defeated Sara Errani and won the French Open for the first time, completing a career grand slam. Sharapova, 25, became just the 10th female player to complete a career grand slam.
  • Also in 2012, 30-year old Serena Williams won her 5th Wimbledon singles title and 14th Grand Slam tournament with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska. She became the first woman over 30 to capture a Grand Slam since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 at the age of 33.
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams
AP Photos

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