All of the world’s best tennis players understand that there are just as many battles to win off the court as there are on the court. Here are the Top 5 most inspiring success stories of the WTA.
Billie Jean King
Arguably the most important person in women’s tennis history, Billie Jean King was responsible for establishing the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973. Her strong character transcended the sport, and she was able to successfully advocate for equal pay regarding tournament prize money. If that wasn’t enough, BJK also won a total of 39 major titles across singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. In fact, she was considered the greatest rival to the all-time Grand Slam record holder Margaret Court.
Needing no introduction, Margaret Court currently holds the world record for most Grand Slams won across the WTA and ATP. Known as the “Aussie Amazon” for her incredible athleticism, Court was highly dedicated to her physical training with drills including weight lifting, circuit training, and sandy hill sprints. In an era where travel was more difficult and staying in touch with loved ones was near impossible when on tour, Court endured plenty of struggles both on and off the court. Her unmatched Grand Slam records, singles winning percentage, and epic rivalry with Billie Jean King were all factors that greatly contributed to the promotion of women’s tennis.
They say that the strongest people get the hardest tests in life, and this could not be truer for Monica Seles. Perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the sport, Seles was an eight-time Grand Slam champion by 19 years of age, still a teenager! However, the stabbing attack that took place in 1993 was where the Yugoslavian’s true test in life came. Despite what would have been a career-ending injury for most, Monica Seles made an incredible comeback to overcome her trauma and win one more Grand Slam in 1996 before calling it quits.
Considered to be the greatest women’s player of the modern era, Serena Williams had her beginnings in the harsh conditions of Compton, California. Perhaps the most important lesson she taught us throughout her career was the importance of family values. Like all tennis players, Williams had her fair share of off-court battles to contend with, whether it was practicing in criminally dangerous suburbs, moving far from home, or even losing a loved one to gang-related crime. Regardless, she had the support of her family to keep pushing her onwards, winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles, just one behind Margaret Court’s record.
Winning five Grand Slam titles and five runners-up in an era dominated by the Williams sisters was no easy task. Maria Sharapova only ever won two matches against Serena Williams, but when she did, it was in the finals of Wimbledon and the WTA Championships. Regardless, the Russian managed to reach the world’s number one position on several occasions and completed her memorable career with 36 WTA titles. Maria Sharapova is, in many ways, the person who glamorized women’s tennis through her endorsements, modelling work, and business ventures.