The 10 Best British Female Tennis Players of All-Time

Billie Jean King once said that champions keep playing until they get it right – that is the mantra of every successful athlete. For instance, Usain Bolt trained for 20 years to run for 2 minutes; thus, he kept breaking records.

In the world of tennis, the same discipline is important, and it has seen many women make history. So, read more about these athletes considered the ten best British female tennis players of all time.

10. Anne Keothavong

Keothavong’s father arrived in England in the mid-seventies and was captivated by Chris Evert playing tennis. He would even go to watch the Wimbledon championships in person at the stadium even if he barely spoke English.

The former tennis player’s father resolved that since he could not play tennis, his children will. Keothavong, therefore, started sharing an hour’s lesson weekly with her brother.

Her game improved, and she began competing professionally, reaching world No. 48 in her 13-year career. She is the epitome of how far one can go when determined.

9. Dorothy Round

Round’s older brothers introduced her to tennis on a clay court their grandfather had built in the backyard. By the time she turned 10, the late tennis player had started competing in school tournaments.

Her brothers continued honing her skills; at 18, Round made her Wimbledon debut. In 1933, during another Wimbledon championship, Round attracted the attention of Eileen Bennett, a former Grand Slam champion who was the commentator for the day.

Bennett said Round had one of the best backhands among lawn tennis-playing girls at the time. Her tactics were so remarkable that they were chronicled in “Gallery of Champions.” She is the only tennis player to win the Wimbledon ladies’ single title twice.

8. Angela Mortimer

According to Independent, Britain took home six Grand Slam titles between 1955 and 1961, three of which were thanks to Mortimer.

The former world number one won the 1955 French Championship title, the 1958 Australian Championship, and the 1961 Wimbledon title. In a game that heavily relies on sound, Mortimer did impressively well since she was partially deaf.

In 1993, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

7. Ann Haydon-Jones

Jones began playing table tennis at an early age, thanks to her parents, who were professional table tennis players. However, death nearly robbed us of the talent in Jones when this former Wimbledon champion developed a severe illness at 11.

Thankfully, God gave her a second chance. The tennis player told Express that she used her table tennis skills to beat opponents in lawn tennis. Jones won Wimbledon at 30, a feat she described as the pinnacle of her career.

Unfortunately, she did not defend her title because she wanted to raise a family.

6. Johanna Konta

Konta announced her retirement in 2021, at only 30 after suffering knee problems for a long term. However, she disclosed that even in retirement, she loved tennis with the same passion she had when she began playing the sport.

Her desire to play tennis started after she attended a tennis class, and soon after, Konta began training. At 16, she won her first singles title. She rose to become Britain’s number one, and her highest ranking in the world was No. 4.

5. Heather Watson

Watson’s parents were members of the Kings club, so as a toddler, the former British No. 1 would follow them around to watch them play. Her parents thought she would take up swimming professionally.

Watson did so well in swimming that her picture was in the papers after winning several events for her age group. Her parents were heartbroken when she chose tennis and began training at the academy where stars like Maria Sharapova and Andre Agassi trained.

She is the first British woman since Jo Durie to win a major title, and the first since Durie in 1987 to bag a Wimbledon title.

4. Charlotte Dod

Dod was nicknamed “Little Wonder” with good reason. Not only did she become the youngest tennis player at Wimbledon, but Dod was also the first woman to serve underhand, volley, and smash.

According to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, she fought for women to be allowed to wear less restrictive clothing so they could play at their fullest potential. The multi-talented athlete was also skilled in archery, skiing, hockey, and golf.

3. Charlotte Cooper Sterry

Sterry may be long gone, having died in 1966 at the ripe old age of 96, but her impact on sports will never be forgotten. In 1900, she became the first woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal, a historical moment because it was the first time women were allowed to compete in the Olympic Games.

Her dedication to the game was so intense that she would cycle from Ealin to Wimbledon to practice, armed with wooden rackets. Her hard work paid off because it took Sterry only two years to win her first Wimbledon title.

The remarkable woman continued playing even after going completely deaf. Therefore, she became the first athlete with a disability to win an Olympic medal.

2. Emma Raducanu

Raducanu is one to watch out for as she is the only other tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title since the former tennis player, Virginia Wade. Besides, at only 18, the current British No.1 also defeated Serena Williams, a major achievement, considering how much Williams is revered on the court.

According to Glamour, Raducanu holds a deep admiration for Williams, whom she praised as inspirational. She has made Britain proud and, in 2021, bagged the Sports Personality of The Year Ward, which she termed a great honor.

1. Virginia Wade

Although Wade never made it to the No. 1 spot in her entire career, she is still regarded as the best British female tennis player of all time. According to Greatest Britons, Wade’s highest ranking was No. 2. She was then ranked in the world’s top ten tennis players for thirteen consecutive years.

The retired professional tennis player began playing tennis at the tender age of 7 and three years later, Wade won her first tournament. When she turned professional in 1968, Wade beat Billie Jean King at the U.S. Open, her first major international tournament.

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