Serena Williams Australian Open 2017

Tennis Top 5: Women with the most Australian Open singles titles

The 98th women’s singles tournament at the Australian Open is now underway, so we at Tennishead have decided to look back at some of the most successful females from over from over the years down under.

Here are the top five (seven!) women with the most Australian Open singles titles:

5=. Evonne Goolagong (4 titles)

Starting off this list in five we have a tie between three players, with Evonne Goolagong the first of those to win four Australian Open titles, in a tournament that was then played on grass courts.

The Australian Aboriginal had already won three Grand Slam titles heading into the 1974 tournament, but was yet to win her home major having lost in the final the three previous years.

Goolagong was the second seed at the tournament and started her campaign off in dominant fashion, beating Japanese player Masako Yokobori, 6-0 6-0.

The then 23-year-old battled her way to a fourth consecutive Australian Open final, where she would play 19-year-old top seed Chris Evert.

Goolagong took the first set in a tight tie-break that she won 7-5, before Evert hit back to take the second set 6-4.

However, the Aussie was not going to let it become four successive home major final losses and dominated the deciding set to beat Evert, 7-6(5) 4-6 6-0, and win her first Australian Open title.

This propelled Goolagong onto winning three successive Australian Open titles, claiming victory in both 1975 and 1976 without dropping a set.

Goolagong did not participate at the following Australian Open tournament after falling pregnant with her first child, but still managed to win her home major in 1977 despite giving birth in May.

It was elected in 1977 that the Australian Open would be held in December from this point on (1977-1985), so two Grand Slam tournaments took place down under that year.

And Goolagong took advantage of that opportunity, winning her fourth Australian Open singles title and third without dropping a set.

As well as her singles success in Melbourne, Goolagong also won five doubles titles with three different partners.

5=. Steffi Graf (4 titles)

Steffi Graf is the next woman to win four Australian Open singles titles, at what is amazingly her worst performing major tournament in terms of titles won.

The German headed into only her third Australian Open in 1988 as reigning Roland Garros champion and world No.1

Graf’s previous best result at the tournament was reaching the third round as a 15-year-old in 1984, but that did not seem to phase her.

It was a dominant tournament from start to finish for Graf, who won her maiden Australian Open title without losing a set and dropped only 29 games throughout her seven matches.

This was the start of a historic season for the teenager, who went onto become the only player in history to win all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic singles gold in a calendar year.

Graf continued her dominance at the Aussie major by going onto win the title in the next two years, losing even less games than before in 1989 (24).

She gave up her stranglehold of the Australian Open in 1991, losing in the quarter-final to eventual runner-up Jana Novotna, in Graf’s earliest Grand Slam exit in five years.

However, after losing in the final to Monica Seles in 1993, Graf returned to the final the following year to win her fourth and final Australian Open title.

It was a vintage display throughout from Graf, who capped off her dominant tournament with a, 6-0 6-2, victory over Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the final.

5=. Monica Seles (4 titles)

Overlapping with Graf’s success is the aforementioned Monica Seles, who is the third woman to have four Australian Open singles titles to her name.

Having already become the youngest Grand Slam champion in history as a 16-year-old at the 1990 Roland Garros (Martina Hingis went onto break this record in 1993), Seles arrived at her first Australian Open as one of the favourites.

And she certainly lived up to that hype, cruising to the semi-finals in Melbourne in comfortable fashion, losing only 12 games in her first five matches.

Things became more tricky from this point onwards, with Seles beating Mary Joe Fernandez in a 9-7 deciding set in the semi-final.

Seles would play surprise package Jana Novotna in the final, who had ended top seed Graf’s 25-match winning run at the Australian Open in the quarter-final.

Novotna actually took the first set, before Seles battled back to win her first Australian Open final, 5-7 6-3 6-1.

The teenage sensation went onto retain the Australian Open in 1992 and 1993, beating her great rival Graf in the latter final.

It seemed as though things couldn’t be going any better for Seles, until tragedy struck when she was stabbed between her shoulder blades in her quarter-final match at the Citizen Cup in Hamburg.

According to police, Seles’ attacker was a superfan of her rival Graf and was intending to end the world No.1’s career.

Although this did not end the career of Seles, she never returned to the form that the tennis world was used to and only went onto win one more Grand Slam title.

Seles reached the US Open final in her first Grand Slam tournament since the attack, and then turned her attention to the Australian Open.

Now representing the USA, after switching from Yugoslavia, Seles arrived as the top seed after the WTA decided to reinstate her ranking.

The American was playing like she had never left Melbourne, dropping only 17 games en route to the semi-final.

In both the semi-final and finals, Seles overcame the tests thrown at her by Chanda Rubin and Anke Huber to win her fourth Australian Open and final Grand Slam title of her career at the age of only 22.

4. Daphne Akhurst (5 titles)

Taking a step back to some of the earliest years is where the next player in the list comes up, with Daphne Akhurst holding a total of five Australian Open singles titles.

Akhurst was part of the Amateur Era of professional tennis, when the tournament was known as the Australasian Championships from 1922-1926, before being renamed as the Australian Championships between 1927 and 1968.

With tennis not being professional at this point, the majority of players at the Grand Slam tournament down under were Australian.

This was certainly the case for Akhurst’s first title in 1925, in her second appearance at the Australasian Championships as the second seed, where the entire women’s singles tournament consisted of home players.

Akhurst dropped only one set, in the second round against Muriel Wilson, as she reached her first ever major final.

The then 21-year-old played third seed Esna Boyd in the final, who had knocked Akhurst out in the 1924 semi-final and had been runner-up in the tournament for three consecutive years.

This run continued for Boyd, as Akhurst enacted revenge to win her first Grand Slam final in a tightly-contested three set match, winning 1-6 8-6 6-4.

Akhurst’s rivalry with Boyd continued into the next year, in a much more comfortable run to the title for the former who did not drop a set.

Boyd eventually ended her run of five successive final defeats in 1927, when Akhurst pulled out in the second round.

However, Akhurst responded like a true champion to win the next three Australian Championships and become the most successful tournament player at the time.

Not only was Akhurst finding great success in singles at her home major, but she also won five women’s doubles and four mixed doubles titles.

Unfortunately, two years after Akhurst retired from professional tennis in 1931, she tragically passed away following an ectopic pregnancy aged just 29.

This is where many of you reading may have heard of Akhurst, as the five-time champion was subsequently honoured by having the tournament title named after her.

A year after her passing in 1934, the women’s singles title was named the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup and has been ever since.

3. Nancye Wynne (6 titles)

Remaining in a similar era to Akhurst is Nancye Wynne, who won her first title on the Australian grass courts in 1937.

The Australian did not managed to retain her title in 1938 or regain it in 1939, where she suffered a shock early defeat, with her second victory coming three years later in 1940.

As the top seed once again, Wynne dropped one set en route to her third final at the Australian Championships, where she would play second seed and doubles partner Thelma Coyne.

Wynne lost the first set, 5-7, before hitting back to win a comfortable deciding bagel set and her second Grand Slam singles title.

With World War II bringing a pause to normal life, Wynne did not get the opportunity to defend her title until 1946.

However, when that opportunity did eventually come around Wynne certainly took it, retaining the Australian Championships in 1946, 1947 and 1948.

Wynne did not drop a single set in either of these three years, and actually only lost an average of four games in those 13 matches.

It was not to be five consecutive titles for Wynne, who saw her 16 match winning streak at the Australian Championships come to an end in the 1949 final to American Doris Hart.

Another American claimed victory in 1950 in the form of Louise Brough, with it being the first time that the women’s singles tournament didn’t have an Australian winner in back-to-back years,

At 34-years-old Wynne claimed her sixth and final Australian Championships in 1951, cruising to the title without dropping a set and beating compatriot Coyne in the final once again.

Wynne played her final Australian Championships in 1952, finishing with a total of six singles titles, 10 women’s doubles titles with Coyne and four mixed doubles titles with Colin Long.

2. Serena Williams (7 titles)

It would not be a list about the record books without Serena Williams, whose most successful major tournament alongside Wimbledon is the Australian Open with seven titles to her name.

Having already made four appearances at the tournament, with a best result of reaching the quarter-final, Williams arrived at Melbourne Park in 2003 as the holder of all the other three major titles.

Despite being the top seed, Williams only just managed to survive a close-fought first round battle against the unseeded Emilie Loit, winning 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5.

The then 21-year-old continued on to reach the semi-finals in a more characteristic fashion, where she would face fourth seed Kim Clijsters.

This is where it looked like it would be the end of the road for Williams, who was 5-1 down in the deciding set and faced two match points, but unbelievably managed to fight back to reach her first final in Melbourne.

She would play her older sister, Venus Williams, in a fourth successive Grand Slam final, with it being the same outcome once again with Serena getting the upper hand to win her first Australian Open title.

As a result, she became the ninth of what is now 10 woman to complete the career Grand Slam, and also held all four major titles at the same time, which was dubbed as the ‘Serena Slam’.

Injury forced Serena to miss the 2004 Australian Open, but she returned the following year with a vengeance and dropped only one set en route to the semi-final.

It was in this semi-final where she would play Maria Sharapova, the 17-year-old that had beaten her twice in the previous year to win Wimbledon and the WTA Finals.

The teenage sensation looked to be getting the better of Serena once again, but the American saved three match points before going onto beat Sharapova, 2-6 7-5 8-6.

Serena also had to battle back in the final against top seed Lindsay Davenport, but won 12 of the last 15 games to beat her compatriot and claim her second Australian Open title.

In 2006, Serena failed to defend her title, with it later being revealed that she was suffering with depression at the time.

This resulted in her spending six months away from the WTA Tour, meaning that Serena would be unseeded for the 2007 Australian Open.

Despite this, Serena battled through colds and blisters to reach the final, where she would play Sharapova once again.

And this final was a thrashing, with the American dropping only three games to win her third Australian Open and first title of any kind since the Melbourne major two years prior.

Alongside Chris O’Neil, Serena is one of only two women to win the Australian Open women’s singles title as an unseeded player.

This was the last time that the Australian Open was played on Rebound Ace, which is a cushioned hard court composed of polyurethane rubber, fiberglass and other materials. From 2008 onwards, the tournament has been played on the acrylic hard court named Plexicushion.

Serena was knocked out at the quarter-final stage in the first year of the Plexicushion era, but seemed to get to grips with it in 2009.

As the second seed, Serena stormed to her 10th Grand Slam title by dropping only one set and comfortably beat Dinara Safina in a 59-minute final, earning her the world No.1 status back.

Although Serena won a remarkable seven Australian Open titles in her career, the only time she defended it was in 2010.

Serena would defeat the returning wildcard Justine Henin in the final, 6-4 3-6 6-2, to retain the Australian Open singles title for the first time.

Not only did Serena defend her singles title, but she also matched the feat in doubles alongside her sister Venus in that same year.

In March 2011, Serena announced that she had suffered a life-threatening hematoma and pulmonary embolism.

She returned after a almost a year out, and despite winning four Grand Slam titles in the passing years, did not return to the Australian Open final until 2015.

It was in this final where she would continue her dominant rivalry with Maria Sharapova, beating her Russian opponent once again in straight sets.

Serena had an opportunity to make it seven in 2016, but was beaten in the final by maiden Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber.

Her seventh and final Australian Open title would come the year later, with Serena dominant from start to finish at the tournament down under in 2017.

Without dropping a set, Serena cruised to the the Australian Open final where she would play her sister Venus, in their first Grand Slam final against one another since Wimbledon 2009.

Serena would also beat her older sister in straight sets, in the first Grand Slam final in the Open Era that contained two players aged over 35.

It was confirmed later that year that Serena was expecting her first child, meaning that she was incredibly eight or nine weeks pregnant during this dominant run to a historic 23rd Grand Slam title.

As we now know, this was the last time that Serena ever won a Grand Slam title, despite being in a further four Wimbledon and US Open finals combined.

1. Margaret Court (11 titles)

Sitting at the top of the tree is Margaret Court, who with 11 titles is the only player in this list to have won Australian Open titles in both the Amateur and Open Era.

The Aussie began her dominance at the then grass tournament in 1960, when she was only 17-years-old, beating compatriot Jan Lehane in the final.

Despite having won the senior title, Court was ironically beaten in the final of the junior event by Lesley Turner Bowrey.

Court continued her rivalry with Lehane at the Australian Championships for the next three years, with the former winning all of their major finals in straight sets.

In total, Court won the Australasian Championships seven times in a row, before taking a hiatus from the tournament in 1967.

Court’s 34-match unbeaten run finally came to an end in 1968, when she was beaten in the final by top seed Billie Jean King.

This was the last time that the Melbourne major was held in the Amateur Era, with Court enacting revenge over King in the first ever Australian Open final.

She would win her ninth and tenth title in the following years, missing the tournament in 1972 as she was expecting her first child.

Court would claim her 11th and final Australian Open singles title in 1973, beating the aforementioned Evonne Goolagong in the final.

In 1975, Court would make her final competitive appearance at the tournament, losing for only the third time in the quarter-final to Martina Navratilova.

Court would finish her career with a singles win-loss record of 60-3 (95%) at the Australian Open, having also won 12 titles across women’s and mixed doubles.

As a result she was later honoured for her achievements, with the second show court at Melbourne Park being named the Margaret Court Arena in 2003.

READ NEXT: How to watch the Australian Open

Top 5: Women with the most Australian Open titles in the Open Era

Tennis became a professional sport in 1968, with the first official Australian Open taking place the year later.

Although the list is altered, all of the players in the top five most successful players at the Australian Open in the Open Era are also featured in the all-time list:

1. Serena Williams (7 titles)

2=. Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong, Monica Seles & Steffi Graf (4 titles)

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.