Before getting the chance to win those seven matches the players need to qualify for the tournament. There are three ways in which it is possible to do so. The most obscure way is almost by way of default and known as a wildcard entry. Eight players are selected by a qualified panel of experts usually closely associated with the competition. It often gives the chance for past tournament players who have performed well or good players who are returning from long lay-offs due to injury to take part in the competition while increasing spectator interest. Sixteen further tournament places are available through a qualification competition for those players outside the top 104 ATP world rankings. Those in the qualification competition need to win three matches to secure their place. As mentioned, the top 104 ranked players in the world obtain automatic qualification.
As one of the biggest tennis venues in the world the best women’s singles matches are played on Centre Court that hosts approximately 15,000 fans and the Court Number One that can entertain up to 12,500 people. The women’s games create a highly charged atmosphere throughout the tournament no matter which of the 18 championship courts are hosting a match. Visitors to Wimbledon are also treated to 22 practice courts enabling them to watch their favourite players add the final touches to their game preparations. The only grand slam to be played on grass, the immaculate Wimbledon set up, strawberries, ice cream and champagne, the all-white player dress code and Henman Hill makes this annual sporting event extra special and the most prestigious tennis championship in the world.
The oldest of the grand slam championships, the women’s singles tournament at Wimbledon commenced in 1884. This was classed as the amateur era and it continued until 1967. 1968 saw the beginning of a new era with the professional ‘open’ era, meaning competitors were playing for prize money.
Without further ado, we will now take a quick look at some of the most successful women to play at Wimbledon.
The First Women’s Singles Wimbledon Winners
British Maud Watson was the first female singles winner at Wimbledon in 1884 and to prove her point, Maud won again in 1885. In the 1884 final, Maud beat her older sister Lilian Watson. In 1886 Maud Watson reached the final of Wimbledon for the third consecutive year but was finally knocked off her mantle by Blanche Bingley. Thereafter the career of Maud Watson was hampered by a recurring wrist injury and she retired in 1889. Maud must also be remembered for being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her nursing work during the First World War.
Blanche Bingley Hillyard
Not the first woman to win the women’s Wimbledon singles title but the first person to beat the original winner, Maud Watson. Blanche Bingley is the all-time joint sixth highest winner of the singles tournament together with the French woman Suzanne Lenglen who was successful during the 1920s. British Bingley won her six titles in 1886, 1889, 1894, 1897, 1899 and 1900. Amazingly, Blanche Bingley Hillyard had a long and distinguished career and continued to compete until the age of 49 and played her last Wimbledon in 1913.
The Most Successful Female British Wimbledon Singles Champion
Dorothea Lambert Chambers
During the Open era Dorothea Lambert Chambers won the Wimbledon Ladies singles title seven times between 1903 and 1914. Between 1915 and 1918 Wimbledon was cancelled due to the First World War and post war, Lambert Chambers finished runner-up in 1919 and 1920, on both occasions to Suzanne Lenglen. Had the war not interrupted Lambert Chambers, where she worked in a hospital and theatre, her Wimbledon singles career could potentially have been the most successful amateur for a female of all time. To top of her singles success, Lambert Chambers was a runner up at Wimbledon in the doubles and mixed doubles not to mention being a three-time runner-up at the All-England Badminton Championships.
The First ‘Foreign’ Wimbledon Finalists
21 years after the first women’s singles Wimbledon Final, May Sutton became the first foreign player to win the title in 1905. Despite being born in Plymouth England, her family emigrated when she was six years old and she became a citizen of the USA. Dominating American tennis, she won the singles title of the US Championships in 1904 at the young age of 16. The following year she travelled to Wimbledon and won the tournament beating Dorothy Lambert Chambers. Dorothy got revenge the following year beating Sutton in the final, only for the rivalry to continue into a third successive year where May Sutton regained her title for the second and last time.
On a par with Blanche Bingley Hillyard by winning six amateur era Wimbledon championships. Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen, followed May Sutton to become the second foreigner to win the singles title. However, Suzanne Lenglen did it in style to become an all-time great. Lenglen won the first five titles post World War One with her final win coming in 1925. These were not the only finals she reached as Lenglen also won Wimbledon doubles six times and the mixed doubles three times. She was also known for her progressive tennis fashion and became a personality helping to rebuild France after the First World War.
The Greatest Champion of the Amateur Era
Helen Wills Moody
During the period of 1927 to 1938, Helen Moody won a record eight Wimbledon singles championships. The American also managed to win the doubles three times and the mixed doubles once, and an overall 31 grand slams during her career. Possibly the most dominant tennis player of the 20th century, at one point of her career, Wills went on a 180-match winning streak lasting from 1927 until 1933. A fabulous career, which also saw a gold medal in singles and doubles at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, was apparently ended in 1943 when she was badly bitten by a dog.
The Greatest Female Wimbledon Singles Player of All Time
So far we have focused on the amateur era. However, the greatest and most successful womens singles player, Martina Navratilova, played during the open era. Martina was born in the Czech Republic but became an American citizen. A twelve-time Wimbledon finalist her reign of supremacy came between 1978 and 1990 during which she won the championship on nine occasions, including six in a row. Her winning ways in the finals were only halted by other hugely successful Wimbledon favourites, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf. Navratilova’s last Wimbledon final appearance came in 1994, an amazing 16 years after her first success in 1978. One of the most all-round successful Wimbledon tennis players, Martina Navratilova also won the doubles title seven times and the mixed doubles title four times with her last title coming in 2003!
German Graft Gives Glory
Versatility, great footwork, a strong forehand, superb athletic ability and an aggressive game made Steffi Graf an all-time great. From 1988 to 1996 Steffi Graf was crowned as Wimbledon champion on seven occasions. Steffi could have matched the record number of Wimbledon singles wins had she not succumbed in two other finals to Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport. Graf was so good she was the first ever player to win all 28 grand slam matches in one year (1988) taking all the trophies in her name.
Sisters of Wimbledon
Serena Williams and Venus Williams
Our final players will be fresh in the memory of most. Probably the most famous tennis sisters of all time they dominated Wimbledon from 2000 to 2019 winning 12 championships between them. Serena Williams won seven of these and Venus won five times. Between them they were also eight times runners up and played each other four time in the final with Serena coming out on top on three occasions.
We hope you have enjoyed this blog and you are looking forward to this year’s Wimbledon championship. We would like to remind you that gambling can cause personal and financial issues. If you feel you have an issue with gambling then visit gambleaware.co.uk for free hep and support.