Through all of the great players entering the WTA, four have stood out as those who’ve defined the game. Here are the four that make up the Mount Rushmore of women’s tennis.
Yesterday, I went through the 4 players that made up our ATP Mount Rushmore. Choosing one from each era of tennis, I decided on Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer. They’ve all defined men’s tennis in their own respective ways and dominated the sport in the process.
Today, we’ll look at the WTA Mount Rushmore. Which four players are deserving to make the list?
NOTE: Just like with the ATP, this is not the four greatest players on Tour. For the sake of fairness, we’ll be putting one player from each era on the monument.
1. Billie Jean King
Years Active: 1959-1984
Grand Slam Titles: 39 (12 singles, 16 doubles, 11 mixed)
King rose to fame in 1961 as she won the women’s doubles Championship. She broke out in singles at the 1966 Wimbledon Championships, winning her first of 6 at the event. Her 12 major singles titles include 4 US Opens and one each in Australia and Roland Garros.
She dominated women’s tennis in the late 60s; from 1965-70, she won 5 singles titles and 5 doubles titles. Her 20 total Wimbledon Championships (10 doubles, 6 singles, 4 mixed) made her the first woman to accomplish such a feat and the first of two women to do so (Martina Navratilova in 2003).
King was just as dominant off the court as she was on it. She was one of the founding members of the WTA and the first President (1974). She also founded the World Team Tennis league in 1978 and became the first female commissioner in sports as the head of the league (1984). As one of the most famous US tennis players ever, the National Tennis Center was renamed in her honor in 2006.
King will go down as the true embodiment of women’s tennis. Without her, there’d be no WTA and rights for women in tennis. Her victory in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” (where she beat Bobby Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3) paved the way for women’s tennis to become widely popular and was the turning point for the sport. Without King, women’s tennis would look vastly different than what it is now.