Tennis is played on a rectangular surface called tennis court and there are three kinds of courts: grass, clay and hard. Among these courts, grass court is the oldest surface and the hard one is the youngest category. There also used to be carpet courts which are discontinued after 2008.
Throughout a year, different competitions take place on these three surfaces, among which are the four Grand Slam. Further, all Grand Slam used to be played on grass but now only Wimbledon is grass court whereas Roland Garros is clay and Australian Open and US Open takes place on hard court.
All tennis players are able to play on any kind of surface, but everyone got a favorite surface where they can utilize their maximum potential. In this article, we will talk about some great players who made a mark on the history of tennis because of their phenomenal performance at grass court.
#10. Suzanne Lenglen
Suzanne Lenglen, a great French player during the Amateur era whose dominance over the grass-court was absolute. The French claimed 21 Grand Slam, but most of them are Wimbledon titles.
Lenglen claimed six Wimbledon titles and also another six from doubles and further adding three mix doubles title at Wimbledon. Lenglen won her maiden Wimbledon title in 1919, which was also her debut to the grass-court of the Grand Slam and also the longest final of that time. Following her maiden victory, Suzanne continued a five-year winning streak at Wimbledon.
The French great lost in 1924 Wimbledon, ending her winning streak. However, she won the 1925 Championship, claiming her sixth title at the British Grand Slam. There could have been more Wimbledon titles, but she retired from singles after 1926, as many claim her dispute with the Briton audience forced her retirement.
#9. Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King is one of the most successful women players in the sport, who can forget her legendary match “Battle of Sexes” against the men’s tennis legend Bobby Riggs. She has lifted the trophy at all four majors and has lifted 39 Grand Slams in her career.
The American achieved most of her Grand Slam success at the grass-court of Wimbledon. She has lifted 12 major singles in the tournament. King further added 10 and 4 more Wimbledon titles from the doubles and mixed doubles. The former World No.1 is also a player who won Wimbledon in both the Amateur(2) and Open era(4).
Billie’s aggressive and quick hard-hitting style of playing was a perfect combo to dominate the grass-court of Wimbledon. She won against skillful players like Margaret Court, Maria Bueno, Chris Evert, and Evonne Goolagong Cawley. King’s 1975 Wimbledon victory gained the most attention, as it was her final win at a singles major, and also she took a short retirement from the singles division.
#8. Steffi Graf
Steffi Graf ranks third with the most number of major singles after Margaret Court and Serena Williams. She won 22 Grand Slam singles and seven of them are Wimbledon titles. Therefore, there is no doubt, facing her at grass could be a very though challenge for her opponents.
Graf won her maiden Wimbledon in 1988, and the same year she won the other three Grand Slams. Since then no other player, male or female, won all four majors in a single calendar year. Apart from the seven titles, Graf also has one Wimbledon doubles title.
Graf has appeared in nine Wimbledon finals and among which only lost twice. She lost the 1999 Grand Slam at the grass courts of Britain, where she lost against Lindsay Davenport for 4-6, 5-7. Further, the 1999 Wimbledon was also her final Grand Slam appearance.
#7. Serena Williams
When we are talking about so many great players, who achieved great feats at grass then how can we forget about Serena Williams. The American is one of the most successful female player of present times.
Among Williams’ record 39 Grand Slam singles titles, seven of them are just Wimbledon titles. She is further the only female player of the Open Era beside Steffi Graf to be victorious at the grass of Wimbledon for seven times.
Williams had her most recent success at a grass court was in 2016, when she lifted her seventh Wimbledon title. However, the American is still active and might add a few more grass success to her huge collection of trophies.
#6. Dorothea Lambert Chambers
Dorothea Lambert Chambers is a legendary player who is well-known during the early 20th century because of her excellent performance at clay. As the Briton won seven Wimbledon women’s titles in the Amateur era and her only Grand Slam titles throughout her career.
Chambers faced defeat at her debut at Wimbledon and only lifted her maiden title after three years. Her 1911 Wimbledon victory will never be forgotten as she became the first player in the history of tennis to win a Grand Slam singles final without losing a set, as she won against Dora Boothby with a score of 6-0, 6-0.
Dorothea lost her last two Wimbledon titles to Suzanne Lenglen. Further, their 1919 face-off was the longest final of that time and it was also the end of Dorothea’s dominance at Wimbledon and the beginning for Lenglen.
#5. Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras is a one of the Greatest Grass Court Tennis Players of All Time. The American lifted seven Wimbledon titles throughout his career, a record shared with William Renshaw and Federer, but Roger moved ahead after lifting his eighth.
Sampras was known as ‘Pistol Pete’ because of his powerful and precise volleys, which were not a great weapon to dominate every king of court, as the former World No. 1 never lifted a Roland Garros. However, his style gave him an edge at grass court and thus, he never lost a single Wimbledon final.
Sampras further took down the likes of Andre Agassi, Boris Becker and Jim Courier to lift his maiden grass Grand Slam title. Pete’s last successful run at the grass court of Wimbledon was in 2000, after that he got knocked out at early rounds.
#4. William Renshaw
William Renshaw is a pioneer in tennis, but he’s also a legendary name on grass courts. As Renshaw was the first man in the history to bag seven Wimbledon singles titles prior to the emergence of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.
The Briton legend only played in Wimbledon because back then there were only two major titles, US Open and Wimbledon. Renshaw won the British majors in six consecutive years, and to this date, no male player could break this record. Further, he appeared in Wimbledon doubles five-time partnering with his twin brother, Ernest Renshaw, and claimed the title in all their five appearances.
Renshaw’s domination over grass court was absolute during his time, and without a doubt, he was the greatest grass court player of the 19th century. As in his eight appearances in the major singles, the Briton only lost once in his last Grand Slam. The great player even became the first president of the Lawn Tennis Association. Therefore, the name William Renshaw is engraved in the rich history of Wimbledon and will never be forgotten, even after centuries.
#3. Helen Wills
If Ranshaw was a pioneer in men’s tennis, then Helen Wills is a pioneer in women’s tennis and she is one of the Greatest Grass Court Tennis Players of All Time.
Wills bagged 19 major titles, and among them are eight Wimbledon titles and seven US Open titles, as the American Grand Slam used to be played on grass during her era. Further, she was the first woman to win so many Wimbledon titles, and also the record remained unchanged in both men and women division during the Amateur era. However, during the Open era, Roger Federer equaled with Helen’s record and Martina Navratilova set a new-record of nine Wimbledon titles.
Wills had 10 Wimbledon appearances and only failed twice. She lost the finals of her debut season against Kitty McKane. Further, her last failure on the grass court of the British Grand Slam was in her second appearance in 1926, when Wills left the tournament after the first round because of an appendectomy. Wills had one of the pest rate of winning on grass in tennis history.
#2. Roger Federer
When we are talking about “Greatest Grass Court Tennis Players of All Time”, how can we ignore Roger Federer, the man recognized as the “King of Grass.” There are so many great achievements Roger has on grass, it would take an entire article to list them.
Many tennis experts mention him the “Greatest Of All Time” because of his phenomenal performance at every type of court. King Federer is known for his fluid and versatile style, which allows him to play on any court. Therefore, he has won 20 Grand Slam title throughout his career, and that too at every kind of court. However, we can’t ignore his absolute dominance while playing on grass.
The Swiss maestro have lifted eight Wimbledon titles in his career till now, a record which still remains unbroken and doesn’t seems like someone would be able to top this record anytime soon.
#1. Martina Navratilova
The Number One on this list of “Greatest Grass Court Tennis Players of All Time” is none other than Martina Navratilova. The American is one of the greatest players in the history of tennis and her excellence at grass is unparallel to anyone else.
Navratilova has claimed a record of 59 Grand Slams, which is still untouchable and not a single player is close enough to break this legendary record. Apart from this unbelievable record, the American legend also claimed nine Wimbledon singles titles, breaking the record of Helen Wills’ eight Wimbledon singles titles.
The American great has 12 appearances at the Wimbledon finals and only lost three of her finals. Further, she made it to the finals of the British Grand Slam for nine consecutive years. Apart from Martina’s singles success at Wimbledon, she also has seven and four more Wimbledon titles from the doubles and mixed doubles. She had one of the best winning rates at grass courts in the tennis history. Therefore, if Roger Federer is called “King of Grass”, then Navratilova deserves to be called “Queen of Grass.”
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