Now, that the calendar year is coming to a close it is time for me to update the variety of year by year lists that I keep regarding various sporting moments and events. I began these lists during the Covid-19 sporting shutdown of 2020 and have kept them going ever since. They seem to be a good and unique way to evaluate sports history that you won’t see anywhere else on the web.
I have scoured the internet, as well as other sources, and have not find anyone that has compiled a thorough list of the best tennis match of every year from the first grand slam in 1877 to today. There have been many rankings of the greatest matches of all-time (Bleacher Report, Tennis Predict, The Top Tens, Sports Retriever, Steve Flink’s well-written book, and USA Today) which I have utilized in my analysis, but no one to my knowledge, has actually selected the best match for every year women’s mainstream tennis has been played like you will see below.
I established a few ground rules going into this and the biggest one is that grand slam matches are so much more meaningful that other tour matches that the list is almost entirely composed of matches played in the four majors. I also took into account several factors when determining which match was truly the best for a particular year, including the match’s significance in determining the ultimate tournament champion (finals inherently mean more), the improbability of the final outcome, and the overall excitement of the match. Without further ado, here is my selection for the match of the year for every year women’s tennis has been played. The matches in bold I have listed are my selections for the best of that particular decade, and as always feel free to comment or debate.
|1884||Maud Watson defeats Lilian Watson 6-8, 6-3, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
An epic battle of sisters decides the inaugural Wimbledon title (portrait of match pictured above). These two were the most dominant tennis sisters until the Williams came along over 100 years later.
|1885||Jane Meikle defeats Lilian Watson 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon First Round)|
Watson gets knocked off in the first round a year after losing to her sister in the final.
|1886||Blanche Hillyard defeats Lilian Watson 6-3, 8-6 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Watson clearly had a pension for losing tight matches as she loses the match of the tournament for the third straight year at Wimbledon, this time to the eventual champion Hillyard (pictured above).
|1887||Ellen Hansell defeats Helen Day Harris 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 (US Open Semifinal)|
The first US women’s national championships were won by Hansell (pictured at her hall of fame induction ceremony years later) who had to overcome this one set to love deficit to just make the final.
|1888||Bertha Townsed defeats Adeline Robinson 1-6, 6-5, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Townsend (pictured above) becomes the second US women’s national champion by surviving this semifinal scare.
|1889||Blance Hillyard defeats Lena Rice 4-6, 8-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Hillyard wins her second of six Wimbledon singles titles by saving three match points while down 3-5 in the second set.
|1890||Lena Rice defeats May Jacks 6-4, 6-1 (Wimbledon Final)|
Rice (pictured above), the previous year’s runner-up, won this one in a run away fashion, but even though it wasn’t close, the match was historic as Rice is credited with inventing the overhead smash by using it effectively on championship point.
|1891||Mabel Cahill defeats Ellen Roosevelt 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
The Brit Cahill becomes the first foreign champion of this tournament with an impressive win over the tourney’s defending champion and FDR’s first cousin.
|1892||Mabel Cahill defeats Elisabeth Moore 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Cahill successfully defends her title with this dramatic five set victory (yes, the women played best of five sets in this tournament at this time) over the 17 year old American.
|1893||Lottie Dod defeats Blance Hillyard 6-8, 6-1, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
These two superstars of earlier women’s tennis square off in a tight three set war.
|1894||Helen Hellwig defeats Aline Terry 7-5, 3-6, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
Hellwig (pictured above), who later became president of the Daughters of the American Revoluation, won her only grand slam singles crown with this triumphant five set victory over Terry.
|1895||Charlotte Cooper defeats Helen Jackson 7-5, 8-6 (Wimbledon Final)|
Cooper (pictured above) survives two tight sets to win the first of her five Wimbledon titles.
|1896||Alice Pickering defeats Edith Austin 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Even though Pickering (pictured above) would eventually lose the final to the defending champ Cooper, this come from behind victory was undoubtedly the match of the tournament.
|1897||Juliette Atkinson defeats Elisabeth Moore 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
These five set women’s finals, which the US Open had for several years, had to have been quite entertaining to watch. This was Atkinson’s second of three US Open singles crowns.
|1898||Juliette Atkinson defeats Marion Jones 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 (US Open Final)|
Atkinson (pictured above) survived five match points in the fifth set to win her third and final US National Championship title.
|1899||Blanche Hillyard defeats Edith Austin 8-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
Hillyard survives two tight sets en route to her fifth Wimbledon title.
|1900||Blanche Hillyard defeats Charlotte Cooper 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
Powerhouse matchup between two women who won a total of 11 Wimbledon titles. Hillyard edges Cooper in this one giving her the 6-5 edge in all-time Wimbledon singles titles. However, Cooper would get revenge on Hillyard and beat her in the Wimbledon Ladies Final the following year (pictured above).
|1901||Elisabeth Moore defeats Marion Jones 4-6, 1-6, 9-7, 9-7, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Moore had to win back-to-back five setters to clinch this title. This was the first and the most impressive of those victories since she had to come back from two sets to love down.
|1902||Louisa Martin defeats Ruth Dyas Durlacher 6-8, 6-4, 7-5 (Irish Open Final)|
The Irish Open was considered as big as Wimbledon in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Martin (pictured above) won this edition of the event by outlasting Durlacher, who was runner-up in this event four different times.
|1903||Dorothea Douglass defeats Ethel Thomson 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 (Wimbledon Final)|
Douglass (pictured above) wins the first of her seven Wimbledon singles titles with this three set win over Thomson.
|1904||Agnes Morton defeats Ethel Thomson 8-6, 2-6, 8-6 (Wimbledon Third Round)|
Thomson loses the match of the tournament for the second consecutive year as Morton wins two 8-6 sets en route to a trip to the All Comers’ Final.
|1905||Constance Wilson defeats Blanche Hillyard 7-5, 9-11, 6-2 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
The legendary Hillyard, who won her first Wimbledon 19 years prior to this match, drops a three set heartbreaker to Wilson .
|1906||Charlotte Cooper defeats Toupie Lowther 4-6, 8-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Even though Dorothea Douglas got the best of her in the final, Cooper won the match of the tourney with this come from behind victory over future World War I hero Toupie Lowther.
|1907||Carrie Neely defeats Rachel Harlan 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Neely (pictured above) survives a rough first set to come back and win this three setter en route to her first and only US Open singles finals appearance.
|1908||Marie Wagner defeats Carrie Neely 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Future hall of famer Wagner (pictured above) gets the best of Neely in this tight 3 setter.
|1909||Maude Garfit defeats Agnes Tuckey 9-7, 9-7 (Irish Open Final)|
Garfit (pictured above) completes an Irish Open three-peat with this epic two set victory.
|1910||Gladys Lamplough defeats Sofie Castenschiold 7-9, 6-4, 6-3 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
Lamplough (pictured above), the 1908 Olympic gold medalist, beat Denmark’s first female Olympian in a tight three setter.
|1911||Hazel Hotchkiss defeats Florence Sutton 8-10, 6-1, 9-7 (US Open Final)|
Hotchkiss founded the Wightman Cup a few years later as a tennis administrator, but as a player in 1911, she won her third straight US Open in dramatic fashion.
|1912||Mary Browne defeats Adelaide Browning 6-4, 3-6, 9-7 (US Open Semifinal)|
This was by far Browne’s (pictured above) toughest test en route to the first of three straight US Open titles.
|1913||Winifred McNair defeats Charlotte Cooper 0-6, 6-4, 9-7 (Wimbledon Quarterfinal)|
McNair (pictured above), overcomes a goose egg in the first set, to take out the five-time singles champion en route to her only Wimbledon finals appearance.
|1914||Mary Browne defeats Marie Wagner 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 (US Open Final)|
Browne wins her third straight US Open final despite getting blown out in the second set.
|1915||Molla Bjurstedt defeats Hazel Hotchkiss 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 (US Open Final)|
Bjurstedt (pictured above) wins her second consecutive three set match to win the first of her four straight US Open titles.
|1916||Louise Raymond defeats Eleanora Sears 6-3, 6-4 (US Open Semifinal)|
These two women combined for a total of three runner-up finishes at the US Open without winning a title. Raymond (pictured above) won this duel but was then blasted by Bjurstedt in the final.
|1917||Flora Brown Harvey defeats Teresa Wood 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
This was the only tight 3 set match on the entire grand slam calendar that year as all other major tournaments were cancelled due to the World War.
|1918||Molla Bjurstedt defeats Eleanor Goss 6-4, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
The Norwegian wins her fourth consecutive US Open final with this victory over the doubles specialist Goss.
|1919||Suzanne Lenglen defeats Dorothea Chambers 10-8, 4-6, 9-7 (Wimbledon Final)|
Amazingly, Lenglen never lost a match at Wimbledon in her entire career. This was her biggest scare as she has to fight off two match points to come out victorious.
|1920||Molla Bjurdstedt defeats Eleanor Tennant 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
The four-time champ Bjurdstedt survives a three set quarterfinal scare from the woman who would later become the first female player to turn professional. Bjurdstedt (pictured above) would go on to win her 5th of 8 US Open singles crowns a few days later.
|1921||Molla Bjurdstedt Mary Browne 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Bjurdstedt overcomes a set deficit to claim her sixth title US national championship in seven years.
|1922||May Sutton defeats Martha Bayard 12-10, 4-6, 6-0 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Seventeen years after becoming the first American to win Wimbledon in 1905, Sutton (pictured above) turns back the clock in this epic quarterfinal performance.
|1923||Mall Molesworth defeats Sylvia Lance 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Molesworth (pictured above) won the first two Aussie Open women’s crowns in ’22 and ’23 and this was by far her toughest test in either tourney.
|1924||Kitty McKane defeats Helen Willis 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
The 19 year old Willis would go on to dominate the next decade of tennis, but the Brit McKane (pictured above) denied her her very first grand slam title with this come from behind three set victory.
|1925||Daphne Akhurst defeats Esna Boys 1-6, 8-6, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Akhurst (pictured above) wins the first of her five straight Aussie Open women’s titles with this come from behind victory in which she lost more games than she won.
|1926||Suzanne Lenglen defeats Helen Willis 6-3, 8-6 (Carlton Club Final)|
The match of the century, as it has been called, featured a meeting between two of the world’s all-time great players that had been hyped up for over three years. Pre-match photo is pictured above.
|1927||Irene Peacock defeats Eileen Bennett 5-7, 6-1, 9-7 (French Open Semifinal)|
The South African Peacock (pictured above) never won a grand slam time, but she reached the French Open Final in 1927 thanks to this epic three set victory.
|1928||Eileen Bennett defeats Penelope Anderson 6-3, 7-9, 7-5 (French Open Quarterfinal)|
The Brit Bennett (pictured above) plays in the match of the year for the second consecutive French Open. This time she comes out victorious en route to a surprise run to the title match as an 8 seed.
|1929||Mary McIlquan defeats Lili Alvarez 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 (Wimbledon 4th Round)|
McIlquan (pictued above), the hometown Brit, stuns the two seed here to open the door for Helen Willis to roll to her third straight Wimbledon title.
|1930||Daphne Akhurst defeats Sylvia Lance 10-8, 2-6, 7-5 (Australian Open Final)|
Akhurst wins her fifth Aussie Open crown in six years with this narrow three set victory.
|1931||Coral Buttsworth defeats Marjorie Crawford 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Buttsworth (pictured above) upsets the 2 seed in the semis and then the top seed Crawford in the final to win the first of her back to back Aussie Open crowns.
|1932||Carolin Babcock defeats Joan Ridley 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Babcock would lose her only grand slam finals appearance to the dominant Helen Jacobs, but this epic comeback win got her there.
|1933||Helen Willis defeats Dorothy Round 6-4, 6-8, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Willis (pictured above) takes home her sixth Wimbledon crown in this surprisingly tight match against the up and coming Brit that would soon win three grand slam titles of her own.
|1933||Helen Willis defeats Dorothy Round 6-4, 6-8, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Willis takes home her sixth Wimbledon crown in this surprisingly tight match against the up and coming Brit that would soon won three grand slam titles of her own.
|1934||Dorothy Round defeats Helen Jacobs 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Round overcomes her loss to the legend Willis the year prior and beats another legend in Jacobs to win her first grand slam title.
|1935||Helen Willis defeats Helen Jacobs 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
Nearly a decade after losing the match of the century, Willis plays another all-time epic and this time she comes out on top despite facing a match point at 5-3 in the third set. Post match photo pictured above.
|1936||Helen Jacobs defeats Hilde Sperling 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
Sperling came two games away from pulling off this incredible upset and becoming the first Dane to win Wimbledon. Instead, the country is still searching for its first title at the All England Club.
|1937||Dorothy Round defeats Jadwiga Jedrzejowska 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
This was the fifth straight Ladies Wimbledon final to be decided in a tight third set. Post-match handshake is posted above.
|1938||Alice Marble defeats Sarah Fabyan 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 (US Open Semifinal)|
The always controversial Marble (pictured above) won tight three setters in both the quarters and semis en route to her second US Open crown.
|1939||Alice Marble defeats Helen Jacobs 6-0, 8-10, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Marble comes out victorious in this marathon by winning a final game that featured seven deuces.
|1940||Margaret Hardcastle defeats Audrey Lewis 6-2, 18-16 (Australian Open 2nd Round)|
This 18-16 second set will stand as the longest set in Aussie Open ladies history thanks to the advent of the new third set tiebreaker rules. The winner Hardcastle is pictured above.
|1941||Helen Jacobs defeats Dorothy Bundy 6-3, 11-9 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
An aging Jacobs still shows she has the game and the stamina to survive win an 11-9 second set in this matchup between two top five seeds.
|1942||Pauline Betz defeats Louise Brough 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Betz (pictured above) wins the first of her five grand slam singles crowns by winning back to back three setters in the semifinals and final.
|1943||Pauline Betz defeats Louise Brough 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 (US Open Final)|
A rematch of the previous year’s US Open final produces the same narrow three set victory for Betz.
|1944||Pauline Betz defeats Virginia Kovacs 6-4, 6-8, 6-4 (US Open Quarterfinal)|
Betz survives an epic quarterfinal scare en route to her third straight US Open crown.
|1945||Sarah Palfrey defeats Pauline Betz 3-6, 8-6, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Palfrey (pictured above) comes from behind to win the second of her two grand slam titles. Both championships were U.S. Open titles accomplished by beating Pauline Betz in the finals and this victory ended Betz’s three year reign of terror in this tournament.
|1946||Margaret Osborne defeats Pauline Betz 1-6, 8-6, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
Osborne (pictured above) wins the first French Open held in seven years due to World War II thanks to this narrow victory over fellow American and world # 1 Pauline Betz.
|1947||Patricia Todd defeats Doris Hart 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 (French Open Final)|
The Women’s French Championships returned from World War II with a bang as the final featured a tight three setter for the second consecutive year. The winner Todd is pictured above.
|1948||Margaret Osborne defeats Louise Brough 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 (US Open Final)|
Osborne upsets the top seed to win the first of her three straight US Open titles. The 15-13 third set was and still is the longest set in a US Open Final.
|1949||Louise Brough defeats Margaret Osborne 10-8, 1-6, 10-8 (Wimbledon Final)|
Brough gets revenge for her heartbreaking US Open loss to Osborne in ’48 with this thrilling three set win. The post-match photo is pictured above.
|1950||Louise Brough defeats Doris Hart 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Brough (pictured above) wins her sixth grand slam title and only Aussie Open crown with this narrow victory over her fellow American Hart. This was truly the glory period for US women’s tennis as Americans won ten straight majors from mid-1948 to the end of 1950.
|1951||Maureen Connolly defeats Shirley Fry 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 (US Open Fiinal)|
“Little Mo”, as Connolly (pictured above) was called, wins her first of nine grand slam singles championships with this win in which she had to overcome a 6-1 beatdown in the second set.
|1952||Maureen Connolly defeats Sue Partridge 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 (Wimbledon 4th Round)|
Little Mo barely avoids what would have been one of the greatest upsets in women’s tennis history en route to her first of three straight Wimbledon titles.
|1953||Maureen Connolly defeats Doris Hart 8-6, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
This was the most compelling matchup in this great 1950’s tennis rivalry. Post-match photo pictured above.
|1954||Doris Hart defeats Louise Brough 6-8, 6-1, 8-6 (US Open Final)|
Hart (pictured above) completes the career grand slam by exacting revenge on Brough who beat her in the Aussie Open final and match of the year in 1950.
|1955||Angela Mortimer defeats Dorothy Knode 2-6, 7-5, 10-8 (French Open Final)|
The Brit Mortimer (pictured above) drops the first set 6-2 before coming back and winning two tight sets to claim her first of three grand slam titles.
|1956||Mary Carter defeats Thelma Long 3-6, 6-2, 9-7 (Australian Open Final)|
Carter knocks off the two time Aussie Open champ to claim her first grand slam title in dramatic fashion.
|1957||Shirley Bloomer defeats Vera Puzejova 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 (French Open Semifinal)|
The Brim Bloomer, who is still alive and is pictured above in 2017, wins her only grand slam title by surviving this three set war in the semis.
|1958||Althea Gibson defeats Darlene Hard 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Gibson wins her fifth and final grand slam title with a come from behind victory over her doubles partner and up and coming star Darlene Hard. Both women are pictured above with the Wimbledon doubles championship trophy from the year prior.
|1959||Christine Truman defeats Sandra Reynolds 4-6, 8-6, 6-2 (French Open Semifinal)|
The Brit Truman (pictured above) comes from behind en route to her only grand slam title.
|1960||Darlene Hard defeats Maria Bueno 6-4, 10-12, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
The American Hard had to play second fiddle to Althea Gibson for much of the late 50’s but here she breaks through to win her first US Open title by knocking off the top seed in three close sets. Post-match photo pictured above.
|1961||Angela Mortimer defeats Christine Truman 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
Mortimer comes from behind to win her final grand slam title in what was the last all-Brit singles final on either the men or women’s side at Wimbledon. Post-match photo pictured above.
|1962||Margaret Court defeats Lesley Turner 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
Court (pictured above) wins her first slam outside her home country of Australia with this three set win. Turner, who entered the tourney as a 13 seed, almost knocked off the top two seeds in the tourney back to back as she beat the # 1 seed Ann Hayden in the semis.
|1963||Lesley Turner defeats Ann Jones 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
Turner (pictured above) avenges her heartbreaking loss in the previous year’s French Open final by winning this equally tight 3 setter and claiming her first of two French Open crowns.
|1964||Maria Bueno defeats Margaret Court 6-4, 7-9, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
The Brazilian Bueno knocks off the defending champ to win the last of her three Wimbledon titles.
|1965||Margaret Court defeats Billie Jean King 8-6, 7-5 (US Open Final)|
Court holds off King in this battle of tennis legends who didn’t like each other much. This was the first closely contested final between the two.
|1966||Maria Bueno defeats Rosie Casals 6-2, 10-12, 6-3 (US Open Semifinal)|
Bueno wins her fourth and final US Open crown in ’66 thanks to this nail-biting semifinal win over rising star Rosie Casals.
|1967||Francoise Durr defeats Lesley Turner 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 (French Open Final)|
Durr secures her only grand slam title in her home country with her third 3 set win in the final. Post-match photo pictured above.
|1968||Billie Jean King defeats Judy Tegart 9-7, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
The seven seeded Tegart comes up just short in her best chance to win a grand slam by losing two narrowly decided sets against the two-time defending champion King.
|1969||Margaret Court defeats Nancy Richey 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 (French Open Semifinal)|
The Aussie Court knocks off the defending champ Richey en route to her third French Open title.
|1970||Margaret Court defeats Billie Jean King 14-12, 11-9 (Wimbledon Final)|
In the world before tiebreakers, each set could potentially go on forever. Court squeaked out both of these tight, long sets en route to the first woman to win a Grand Slam in the open era.
|1971||Margaret Court defeats Evonne Goolagong 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 (Australian Open Final)|
Court wins her tenth Aussie Open title by surviving this battle with fellow countrywoman Goolagong.
|1972||Evonne Goolagong defeats Chris Evert 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
In a battle of future icons in the sport, Goolagong outlasts Evert in a tight three setter before dropping the final to Billie Jean King. Both women are pictured above.
|1973||Margaret Court defeats Chris Evert 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 (French Open Final)|
Court wins her fifth and final French Open title over future superstar Chris Evert.
|1974||Billie Jean King defeats Evonne Goolagong 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 (U.S. Open Final)|
King denies Goolagong a career gland slam with this come from behind victory, which would end up being King’s final U.S. Open triumph.
|1975||Chris Evert defeats Evonne Goolagong 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 (US Open Final)|
Both of these women were involved in so many classic grand slam matches in the 1970’s that it is only fitting they played another epic match against each other in this US Open Final.
|1976||Chris Evert defeats Martina Navritalova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
The first meeting between these two superstars at the All-England Club.
|1977||Virginia Wade defeats Betty Stove 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 (Wimbledon Final)|
Wade earns her place in tennis history by coming from a set down to become the last British woman to win Wimbledon, and to make it even sweeter the Queen of England was in attendance.
|1978||Martina Navritaolva defeats Chris Evert 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
The first and closest of five Wimbledon finals played between these two archrivals. Navritalova would go on to win all five of those meetings.
|1979||Renee Richards defeats Mary Carillo 7-5, 6-3 (US Open 1st Round)|
Richards (pictured above) becomes the first and only transgender athlete to win a match at a grand slam singles event with this tight victory over the legendary Mary Carillo.
|1980||Chris Evert defeats Bettina Bunge 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 (French Open 3rd Round)|
Chrissy cruised to her fourth French Open crown by dominating all her competition, except for this shockingly close third round scare.
|1981||Martina Navritalova defeats Chris Evert 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 (Australian Open Final)|
This epic match marked the first time these two rivals had ever met in the Aussie Open.
|1982||Chris Evert defeats Martina Navritalova 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 (Australian Open Final)|
Evert simultaneously completes the career grand slam and exacts revenge from last year’s title match with this three set victory over her arch rival.
|1983||Martina Navritalova defeats Jo Durie 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 (Australian Open Quarterfinal)|
Martina didn’t drop a single set en route to her second Aussie Open crown except during this scare from the upset-minded eight seed (pictured above).
|1984||Martina Navritalova defeats Chris Evert 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 (US Open Final)|
Martina wins her sixth straight major title by overcoming a one set deficit to beat her arch rival Evert.
|1985||Chris Evert defeats Martina Navritalova 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
This was the last of Evert’s truly epic wins over her arch rival.
|1986||Martina Navritalova defeats Steffi Graf 6-1, 6-7, 7-6 (US Open Semifinal)|
In a rare matchup of two of the greatest women’s tennis players of all-time, the up and coming star Graf falls just short of beating the eventual champion Navritalova. Martina became the first woman in the open era to win the US Open after saving a match point with this narrow victory.
|1987||Steffi Graf defeats Martina Navritalova 6-4, 4-6, 8-6 (French Open Final)|
Graf gets revenge for her loss in the 1986 match of the year by beating Navritalova in another three set war between the two.
|1988||Martina Navratilova defeats Chris Evert 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 ( Wimbledon Semifinal)|
The last grand slam meeting played between these two bitter rivals ended up being one of their best matches ever at the All-England Club.
|1989||Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeats Steffi Graf 7-6, 3-6, 7-5 (French Open Final)|
Vicario ends Graf’s run of five straight major titles by overcoming a 3-5 third set deficit.
|1990||Zina Garrison defeats Steffi Graf 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Semifinal)|
Garrison picks up the win of her career in this stunning upset of Graf, ending Steffi’s record run of 13 straight grand slam finals appearances. This upset enabled Navritalova to win one final major title two days later when she took care of the upstart Garrison in the final.
|1991||Monica Seles defeats Jennifer Capriati 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (US Open Semifinal)|
Young Capriati’s best chance at winning a slam is dashed in a 3rd set tiebreak. It would be nine long years before J-Cap would reach the semis of a slam again.
|1992||Monica Seles defeats Steffi Graf 6-2, 3-6, 10-8 (French Open Final)|
This was Seles’ biggest career win over her arch rival.
|1993||Steffi Graf defeats Jana Novotna 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon Final)|
One of the most legendary Wimbledon finals ever, as Novotna blows a 4-1 third set lead and ends up crying on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder (pictured above) during the trophy presentation. The story has a happy ending though because the Duchess told her that day that she would win Wimbledon one day, and her words proved prophetic when Novotna won this title in 1998.
|1994||Lori McNeil defeats Steffi Graf 7-5, 7-6 (Wimbledon 1st Round)|
One of the greatest upsets in tennis history, as the unseeded McNeil stuns the top seed and defending champ Graf, marking the only time in the open era that a defending Wimbledon singles champ (man or woman) lost in the first round of the following Wimbledon.
|1995||Steffi Graf defeats Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 (Wimbledon Final)|
Graf wins riveting final by breaking Vicario’s serve at 5-5 in the 3rd set in a game featuring 13 deuces.
|1996||Steffi Graf defeats Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-3, 6-7, 10-8 (French Open Final)|
Graf surpasses Evert and Navritalova for the most women’s grand slam singles titles with this thrilling victory over rival Vicario.
|1997||Venus Williams defeats Irina Spirlea 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 (US Open Semifinal)|
This was the official coming out party for the Williams’ sisters, as Venus became the first unseeded player to advance to the US Open Final with this narrow win in which Spirlea controversially bumped Venus during a change over.
|1998||Aranxta Sanchez Vicario defeats Serena Williams 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 (French Open 4th Round)|
In this battle between heroes of different generations, the veterar Vicario beats the rookie Serena en route to Vicario’s last grand slam title.
|1999||Steffi Graf defeats Marina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 (French Open Final)|
Up a set and a break, a controversial call and subsequent code violation lead to Hingis’ collapse.
|2000||Venus Williams defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 (US Open Semifinal)|
These two generational superstars hooked up for an epic three set match en route to Venus’ first US Open title.
|2001||Jennifer Capriati defeata Kim Clijsters 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 (French Open Final)|
Capriati wins her second consecutive grand slam title by outlasting the Belgian Clijsters who was playing in her first grand slam final.
|2002||Jennifer Capriati defeats Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 (Australian Open Final)|
Capriati wins her third and final slam of her career with one of the greatest comebacks in women’s tennis history as she trailed Hingis by a set and faced an 0-4 deficit in the second and then came back to win despite facing four match points.
|2003||Justine Henin defeats Jennifer Capriati 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (US Open Semifinal)|
Henin denied the Capriati her best shot at reaching a US Open final with this come from behind victory.
|2004||Karolina Sprem defeats Venus Williams 7-6, 7-6 (Wimbledon 2nd Round)|
An incredible upset full of incredible controversy as the chair umpire, Ted Watts, loses track of the score in the second set tiebreaker giving Sprem the extra point needed to eventually win the match.
|2005||Serena Williams defeats Maria Sharapova 2-6, 7-5, 8-6 (Australian Open Semifinal)|
Serena avenges her 2004 Wimbledon final loss to Maria with this comeback victory en route to her second of sevenAussie Open titles. Maria would never beat Serena again in her entire career, losing the next 17 matchups between the two.
|2006||Amelie Mauresmo defeats Justine Henin 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 (Wimbledon Final)|
Mauresmo becomes the first French female to win Wimbledon since Suzanne Lenglen in 1925 with this come from behind victory that denied Henin a career grand slam.
|2007||Serena Williams defeats Shahar Peer 3-6, 6-2, 8-6 (Australian Open Quarterfinal)|
Serena wins this marathon over the 16 seeded Israeli en route to her eighth grand slam title. Interestingly, Serena came into the tournament unseeded as she was returning from a long layoff after an injury.
|2008||Ana Ivanovic defeats Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 (French Open Semifinal)|
Ivanovic outlasts fellow countrywoman Jankovic in this all-Serbian semi en route to Ivanovic’s only grand slam title. Sadly, Jankovic never won a grand slam and many consider this tourney to have been her best chance.
|2009||Melanie Oudin defeats Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 (US Open 3rd Round)|
The biggest win in Oudin’s spectacular Cinderella US Open run in 2009. Unfortunately, Melanie was never really heard from again after this tourney.
|2010||Kim Clijsters defeats Venus Williams 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 (US Open Semifinal)|
Clijsters comes back from a set down on rival Venus to win her second consecutive US Open.
|2011||Francesca Schiavone defeats Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 (Australian Open 4th Round)|
This four hour and forty-four minute marathon was and still is the longest grand slam match in women’s tennis history.
|2012||Serena Williams defeats Victoria Azarena 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 (US Open Final)|
Serena overcome a 5-3 third set deficit to win the first three set US Open women’s final in 17 years.
|2013||Sabine Lisicki defeats Serena Williams 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 (Wimbledon 4th Round)|
The 23rd seeded Lisicki stuns the top seed and defending champion en route to a Cinderella run to the finals in Sabine’s final Wimbledon.
|2014||Maria Sharapova defeats Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 (French Open Final)|
Maria wins the fifth and final slam of her career with this narrow victory over future star Halep.
|2015||Roberta Vinci defeats Serena Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 (US Open Semifinal)|
Serena’s bid at a calendar year grand slam came to a crashing halt with this incredible upset.
|2016||Angelique Kerber defeats Serena Williams 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Kerber wins her first grand slam by ending Serena’s spectacular run of eight straight major finals victories. She also became the first player to win a slam in the open era after saving a match point in her first round match.
|2017||Jelena Ostapenko defeats Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 (French Open Final)|
The Latvian concludes her Cinderella run at Roland Garros with a narrow three set victory, becoming the first unseeded player to win a women’s French Open title since 1933.
|2018||Caroline Wozniacki defeats Simona Halep 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Wozniacki wins the only grand slam of her lengthy career with a nail-biting upset of the tourney’s top seed.
|2019||Naomi Osaka defeats Petra Kvitova 7-6, 5-7, 6-4 (Australian Open Final)|
Osaka blows three championship points in the second set but then regroups to take the title in the third and also lay claim to the title of world’s # 1 player.
|2020||Shelby Rogers defeats Petra Kvitova 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 (US Open 4th Round)|
Rogers continues a Cinderella US Open run with this stunning 4th Round victory in which she saved four match points.
|2021||Naomi Osaka defeants Gabriela Muguruza 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 (Australian Open 4th Round)|
Osaka overcomes two match points in the third set to win this nailbiter enroute to her second Aussie Open crown.
|2022||Serena Williams defeats Anett Kontaveit 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 (US Open 2nd Round)|
Great upset in front of raucous crowd that will likely end up being the last win of Serena’s career.
Like I did for the men , I have conducted some additional analysis to see which tournaments have held the most matches of the year/decade. The charts below depict those results. On the men’s side, Wimbledon dominated the field by hosting almost twice as many matches of the year as any other tournament. The same could not be said for the ladies, however, as the United States Open lays claim to the most matches of the year all-time. Interestingly, though, Wimbledon still had a firm grasp on the most matches of the decade as they have hosted nine of these fourteen matches.
|Best Matches by Tournament|
|Matches of the Decade by Tournament|
The final analysis I conducted was the match of the year by player. This is an important analysis because I feel like my results accurately reflect tennis’ most iconic players. It is one thing to roll over competition to win several grand slams like the Williams’ sisters did in the early 2000’s, but the most memorable and iconic players are the ones who won a multitude of classic matches like the ones featured on this list. You will see that atop this list stands one of America’s most recognizable women’s tennis players, Chris Evert.
|Matches of the year by player (multiples only)|
|Billie Jean King||4||2-2|
|Aranxta Sanchez Vicario||4||2-2|
|Matches of the Decade by Player (multiples only)|