Margaret Smith Court
Born 16 July 1942 in Albury (Australia)
Steffi Graf stopped two short, and Serena Williams still is three away from equalling the record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, not to mention the 19 doubles and 20 mixed doubles crowns. From a purely statistical point of view, we will probably never see the like of Margaret Court again! In singles competition, she won Roland-Garros and the US Open five times, three at Wimbledon and no fewer than 11 on home soil in Australia, where it has to be said that she faced little competition for much of the time. Her training regimen was strict for its day, and complemented her height and strength. She was also given a helping hand by Mother Nature. According to a study carried out by the Australian Sunday Times, her arms were some 10 centimetres longer than those of other athletes on average…
She was the cream of the crop for over a decade, but as a natural grass player, she had to work for her success at Roland-Garros, as illustrated by the match point she had to save in the 1962 final against Lesley Turner. Her opponent and erstwhile doubles partner matched her shot for shot up until 5-5 in the final set. Even in 1970, the year when she won 109 matches out of 115 and achieved a calendar Grand Slam, Court was a few points from defeat in Paris, 6-3, 5-4 down in the second round to Russia’s Olga Morozova. Her finest French Open title was no doubt the fifth and last, in 1973 when she battled past rising US star Chris Evert 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in the final. The young American had her chances, coming within two points of the title in the second set, but once again Court proved that losing was not part of her vocabulary.
Court’s biggest disappointment in Paris came in 1971, when Frenchwoman Gail Chanfreau put an end to her run of six consecutive majors by knocking her out in the last 16. To round off her achievements however, it should be remembered that the Australian is the last player to date to do the triple in Paris. As well as the singles in 1964, she also won the doubles (with Lesley Turner) and the mixed doubles (with Ken Fletcher).
Margaret Court’s record at Roland-Garros:
• 44 wins, five defeats
• Five titles (1962, 1964, 1969, 1970 and 1973) and one final (1965). Margaret Smith Court also won the Australian Open 11 times (1960 – 1966, 1969 – 1971 and in 1973), Wimbledon three times (1963, 1965 and 1970) and Forest Hills five times (1962, 1965, 1969, 1970 and 1973).
• 10 participations (the first in 1961, the last in 1973, the year of her fifth and final title)
• 21 matches played on Centre Court (the first in 1962 against Renee Schuurman)
• Notable wins over Lesley Turner (1962 final), Maria Bueno (1964 final), Nancy Richey (semi-final in 1965 and quarter-final in 1969), Ann Haydon Jones (semi-final in 1969), Evonne Goolagong (semi-final in 1973), Chris Evert (1973 final)