Top 5 longest WTA World No. 1 streaks
Join Tennishead for a review of WTA rankings to examine the longest terms achieved by players at the top of the women’s tennis totem pole.
24 women have claimed the top spot in the WTA rankings since they officially began in Novamber 1975. Here, we revisit the longest runs at the number one spot.
5. Monica Seles – 91 weeks
This Yugoslav-born star held her longest streak at world number one between 9th September, 1991 and 6th June, 1993. Seles had previously already achieved number one for the first time in March 1991, at the age of just 17.
She also already had three Slam titles to her name, being the 1991 Australian Open and back-to-back Roland Garros titles in 1990 and 1991.
During her 91 weeks stint in the top spot, Seles added consecutive US Open titles in 1991 and 1992 US Open, back-to-back Australian Open titles in 1992 and 1993, and a third successive French Open in 1992.
The teen also won the 1991 and 1992 WTA tour finals, adding to her first in 1990. The brilliant streak was only ended in 1993 after the infamous knife attack that Seles suffered in the lead up to the 1993 French Open keeping her off the court for two years before adding a final Slam title in 1996.
Who knows for how much longer the young talent could have dominated the women’s game had things not so cruelly taken such a turn so early in her career.
4. Chris Evert – 113 weeks
Evert claimed four of her 18 Slam singles titles before the introduction of the official WTA rankings, being Roland Garros 1974 and 1975, Wimbledon 1974, and the 1975 US Open.
She then became the first number one on the WTA tour on 3rd November 1975, with her longest term in the top spot coming between 10th May, 1976 and 9th July, 1978.
During this period, Evert added Wimbledon 1976 to her collection of Major titles, as well as completing three consecutive US Open titles in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Evert also secured the tour finals in 1977, her fourth and final triumph at the event.
Not long after the streak ended, Evert added a fourth successive US Open title, ultimately capturing six over the course of her career.
3. Martina Navratilova – 156 weeks
Between 14th June, 1982 and 9th June, 1985, Navratilova enjoyed nearly three entire years atop the ladder of women’s tennis. In that time, the Czech-American legend won eight of her 18 Slam singles titles.
These were all three Wimbledons from 1982-84′, back-to-back US Opens in 1983 and 1984, two Australian Opens in 1983 and 1985, and the 1984 French Open.
In fact, across the 11 Slams held during this streak from Navratilova, she won eight of them. Finally, the legend also won the 1983, 1984 and 1985 tour finals to add to her three previous wins in 1978, 1979 and 1981.
2. Serena Williams – 186 weeks
More than a decade on from when she first reached the top of the WTA rankings in July 2002, Serena claimed the top spot on 18th February, 2013, holding onto the position consecutively until 11th September, 2016.
After climbing to the top, Serena won seven Slam titles across this streak. These included two of her three French Open titles, coming in 2013 and 2015. The other five were back-to-back Wimbledon titles in 2015 and 2016, as well as successive US Open titles in 2013 and 2014, plus the Australian Open in 2015.
Williams also won the tour finals for a fourth and fifth time respectively in 2013 and 2014 during this period.
1. Steffi Graf – 186 weeks
With the same consecutive period of time at the top as Serena Williams, Graf was only slightly more successful than the American during her stint, claiming eight Slam titles to Williams’ seven.
Graf sat on top of the rankings from 17th August, 1987 to 10th March, 1991, the start of the streak also being her first time in the number one position.
Over the next three and a half years, the German won the 1988 Golden Calendar Slam, securing all four Majors and Olympic gold in the same year. She further won the Australian Open in 1989 and 1990, Wimbledon in 1989 and the US Open in 89.
During the 186-week run, Graf won eight of the 14 available Slam titles, and reached the final of a further four. Finally, Graf also won her first two tour finals titles in 1987 and 1989.
Make sure to read up on the longest number one streaks in the men’s game too!
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