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Sports Then and Now



Who’s No. 1? 16 Women in Tennis Who Held the Top Spot Longest 22

Posted on February 27, 2011 by JA Allen

Two women who dominated on tour: Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

Points given in a WTA sponsored tennis tournament are used to calculate a players ranking and who ultimately is the No. 1 player on the women’s tour.

Points gained are totaled for one year. Then as the event rolls around again on the calendar, the points earned last year fall off and new points won replace them.

Various tournaments have different point values with the slams offering the most points. For example, the winner of a major receives 2000 ranking points.

The further a player advances in the tournament, the more points she will earn.

Ultimately for the women on tour, only the player’s best 17 tournaments count toward total ranking points. That means a player cannot simply add to her ranking total by entering every tournament.

Historically, for the women’s tour, ranking did not even appear as a statistic until 1921.

Back then rankings were subjective, based on human observation, often a professional panel. Certainly there was no universal system. Calculation of rankings were not point-based until 1975.

Despite the inadequacies of past record-keeping, evidence exists that indicate a number of very talented female players held the No. 1 ranking and dominated the women’s game prior to 1975.

We will use prior subjective rankings and convert those records to an appropriate number of weeks in order to rank the dominance of the top 16 female tennis players since 1921.

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The 10 Greatest Female Australian Open Champions 5

Posted on January 20, 2011 by JA Allen



Serena Williams was the last Australian Open champ in 2010.

Most of the ladies crowned as champions of the Australian Open hailed primarily from Australia back in the early days of this prestigious tennis tournament.

Distance from European capitals and the United States kept the Australian Open a happening mainly for locals, although there were foreign winners from time to time.

Overall Australians have won 43 Australian Open titles, 33 during the Amateur Era and 10 during the Open Era. Their first championship came in 1922 and their last in 1978.

The Aussies are all hoping Samantha Stosur can add to their total by winning the championship in 2011. The time is now for a  native to win the trophy––it has been 33 years, after all.

With defending champion Serena Williams not playing in 2011 because of injury, this year is wide open for the ladies as they look to crown a new champion.

Female champions from the United States are second having won 22 Australian Open titles, 7 in the Amateur Era and 15 during the Open Era.

Half of the ladies in this Top Ten list are logically from Australia and many of them represent titles won during the Amateur Era which began back in 1922.

But all have outstanding results in the “Happy” Slam now held annually in Melbourne.

10. Australian Joan Hartigan Bathurst: Won in 1933, 1934, 1936 – 3 Finals, 3 Wins, 2 Consecutively.

Joan Hartigan Bathurst won three Australian Open titles in her career.

Australian Joan Hartigan-Bathurst played her first Australian Open Championship in 1931 and her last one in 1947. She won three championships during her long career.

Traveling outside of Australia, Hartigan-Bathurst also made the semifinals at Wimbledon twice. She never, however, traveled to play in the United States championships.

During her years playing on tennis courts around the world, Hartigan-Bathurst won three Australian Open titles, made the semifinals twice and the quarterfinals four times.

In 1933 Hartigan-Bathurst defeated Coral Buttsworth to win her first Australian Open title 6-4, 6-3.

The Aussie repeated as champion the following year defeating Margaret Molesworth 6-1, 6-4 in 1934.

Her next Australian Open Championship came in 1936 when Hartigan-Bathurst won over fellow Aussie Nancy Wynn Bolton 6-4, 6-4.

Overall she played in 10 Australian Open Championships, winning three times. Her win loss record was 48-7 giving Hartigan Bathurst a winning percentage of 87.27.

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U.S. Open Tennis: Greatest Lady Champions of the Modern Era 3

Posted on August 17, 2010 by JA Allen

Great Rivalries built the women's game into a prime spectator sport.

Heading into the 2010 U.S. Open, uncertainty reigns as several of the top seeds are currently sidelined with injuries.

First of all are the reports of Serena Williams’ recovery from foot surgery––leading to speculation that the younger Williams sister may not be fit enough to challenge for the U.S. Open championship.

Additionally will be the absence of Justine Henin with a right elbow injury suffered during a fall at Wimbledon. The pain and suffering could extend perhaps to Venus Williams who has pulled out of both Cincinnati and Montreal with pain in her left knee that prevents her from practicing.

Add to that wounded Russian Maria Sharapova who battled Kim Clijsters in the final in Cincinnati pulling out of the Rogers Cup after twisting her ankle during the match.

The end result is that a clear favorite for being crowned as this year’s champion remains shrouded in doubt––even though the odds seem to favor the younger Williams sister.  Will she notch another win in New York?

As we rate the top U.S. Open champions since 1968 on the women’s side, we look at both the number of final wins plus the number of appearances in U.S. Open finals.  If those are equal we look at the total winning percentages of each player.

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Top 9 Female French Open Finalists: Chris Evert Best of the Best 5

Posted on April 21, 2010 by JA Allen
Chris Evert is No. 1 for the Ladies Tour at the French Open

Chris Evert is No. 1 for the Ladies Tour at the French Open

How do you measure the greatness of an athlete within their respective sport? What factors determine the degree of greatness over a period of time––years or decades?

Further, how do you determine who is No. 1 in any given list or ranking? First you must find a pattern and then you must determine the significant components of the ranking––does each factor merit being used as part of the overall equation?

Sometimes it does, without question––like the score in a game. The highest or lowest score wins as in football or golf.

It is not always a simple task to determine who is the greatest because such discussions invariably have subjective components.

For this ranking, first consider the number of times a woman made it to the French Open finals since 1968 (Open Era) as the initial demarcation of greatness. To be considered she must have made it to the finals of the French Open at least 3 times.

Within the number of appearances, measure the wins against the losses in a given number of tries.

No. 1 Chris Evert ––Nine French Open Finals

Chris Evert winning seven of nine final appearances remains the undisputed leader on the clay at the French Open in Paris surpassing even her male counterparts in some estimations.

Evert won 7 French Open titles in 9 final appearances.

Evert won 7 French Open titles in 9 final appearances.

Clay brought out the strengths of Evert’s game––her patience, determination and her ability to construct points. She was tireless and unflappable on the red clay at Stade Roland Garros––hence her nickname, the Iron Princess.

The fact that she owns the clay court record with an 125-match win streak from 1973-1979 illustrates her prowess on the surface. During that run she lost only seven sets.

It was the one surface on which Evert generally prevailed over her arch-rival Martina Navratilova whose one weakness might have been the slow clay. They met in four finals on the red dirt with Evert coming out on top in three––all Evert’s wins over the Czech were three-set finals.

In all Evert appeared in nine finals at the French Open in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, winning them all except in 1973 and 1984.

Evert’s winning percentage stands at 92.4% [73-6].

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Queens of the Court: Martina Navratilova, Lifting The Game To New Heights 11

Posted on January 04, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Martina Navratilova dominated women's tennis for more than a decade.

Martina Navratilova dominated women's tennis for more than a decade.

Her achievements on the tennis court are almost without parallel.

Her energy in supporting the rights of others has been a constant.

Her passion for the sport that she says “gave her a soul” is unquestioned.

Yet it is one particular interview, following one particularly unlikely event in this tennis icon’s life, that throws as much light on her character as any of those achievements.

Martina Navratilova was a surprise participant, and a surprisingly popular finalist, in the 2008 television show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here.” And in an interview for the U.K.’s revered Times newspaper, she admitted it was simply the challenge that made her sign up.

“I want challenges, whether cerebral or physical…If you never push yourself, you won’t know what your point of failure is. People always said I was so competitive. Not with other people, with myself.”

This gets to the heart of what made Navratilova one of the most successful women ever to pick up a tennis racket: the need to prove to both herself and the world what was possible.

However, there is a second quote that gets to the heart of what makes her such an enduring, respected, and important woman beyond the tennis court.

“If I feel strongly, I say it. I know I can do more good by being vocal than by staying quiet. I’d have a whole lot more money if I lied, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed spending it.”

This is the story of a courageous, feisty, and generous woman who also happened to challenge political repression and personal prejudice on her way to becoming one of the world’s greatest living athletes.

“You can’t live in the past.”

Navratilova was born in October 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, but her ski-instructor father and her mother divorced when she was still very young.

Tennis ran in her family. Her grandmother had been an international player and, when her mother remarried in 1962, her stepfather became her coach.

By the age of eight, Navratilova reached the semifinals of her first tournament, and her talent began to attract the attention of the Czech authorities.

In 1972, age 15, Navratilova won the Czech national tennis championships. The next year, she reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and the third round of Wimbledon. Read the rest of this entry →

Great Competitors In Women’s Tennis History 1

Posted on December 08, 2009 by Claudia Celestial Girl
Women's Tennis history is filled with great competitors.

Women's Tennis history is filled with great competitors.

In your face. Pushy. Mentally strong. Competitive. These are not your usual adjectives for describing ‘Ladies.’

Gracious and elegant; cute, classy, and tenacious. These are more common ways Lady competitors are described.

And yet, one of the reasons that we love to watch tennis is that very basic, visceral psychological aspects of life, play themselves out in 1-2 hours on the tennis court.

This article is meant to be complementary to Rob York’s presentation of the top five male competitors click here.

In his piece, York suggested that great competitors brought something of mental strength, focus, or force of will over and above their physical abilities to achieve the victory.

This article is a presentation of the top five Ladies’ Competitors. I mean those who, like their male counterparts, show you their will to win, their audacity, their indomitable spirit; something about the Human Condition.

As a theme song for this feature, I’ve selected “Take This Job and Shove It (I Ain’t Workin’ Here no More).” This is a humorous song that underscores a core, basic, fighting spirit, that is part of what a true competitor brings to the contest.

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      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

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