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100 years of excellence

Copyrights: Australian Open; The Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup

100 years of excellence

This year’s Australian Open marked 100 years since women’s events were added to the tournament. We look back at some of the highlights from the last century of women’s tennis at the championship.

This year, the Australian Open celebrated 100 years of the inclusion of women in the championship. The event began in 1905, but it wasn’t until 1922 that women were allowed to participate. Here are some of the highlights from the last 100 years of women’s participation:

1922: Women were allowed to participate in the tournament with the introduction of women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events. For the women’s singles, 14 women participated – Margaret Molesworth won that year, and Esna Boyd came second.

1925: Daphne Akhurst won her first singles title at the Australian Open. She went on to win all further singles titles at the championship until 1930. The women’s singles trophy awarded to players today is named in her honour.

1957: Althea Gibsons from the United States became the first African American to play at the championship.

1969: The first Australian Open in the Open Era (which allowed professional tennis players to also compete in the tournament) took place, with Margaret Court from Australia winning the women’s singles event.

1970: Margaret Court won all Grand Slams in the women’s singles events that year, becoming the first woman to do so. To date, she remains the most successful player of all time, with the most Grand Slam titles to her name.

1973: Margaret Court also won the women’s singles event this year, becoming the first mother to win an Australian Open title

1974: Evonne Goolagong, an Aboriginal Australian of the Wiradjuri people, won the women’s singles, becoming the first Aboriginal champion of the tournament.

1980: Wendy Turnbull of Australia was defeated by Hana Mandlíková of Czechoslovakia for the women’s singles title. This was the last time that an Australian woman made it to the Australian Open final – that is, until Ashleigh Barty won the championship in 2022.

2000: Ushering in a new millennium, the Australian Open announced that the prize money awarded to men and women would be equal, becoming the second Grand Slam, after the US Open, to do this.

2001: Venus and Serena Williams, sisters from the United States, made history as the youngest and only African American pair in the modern era to complete career Grand Slams in women’s doubles – that is, they won every Grand Slam that year!

2003: Serena Williams won the Australian Open, becoming the first Black woman to win the singles championship.

2010: Li Na of China reached the quarter-final for the first time. This boosted her world ranking, and as a result she became the first Chinese woman to break into the top 10.

2011: Li Na reached the semi-final of the Australian Open women’s singles, becoming the first tennis player from an Asian country to do so.

The same year, the longest ever women’s singles Grand Slam match took place between Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. The match lasted four hours and 44 minutes.

2014: Li Na finally won the Australian Open women’s singles, becoming the first Australian Open champion from an Asian country.

2017: With her win over sister Venus, Serena Williams became the record holder of most Grand Slam wins in the Open Era by any player. The all-time record is held by Margaret Court.

2022: This year has been an eventful one for women at the Australian Open. In the junior girls event, Meshkatolzahra Safi of Iran and Angella Okutoyi of Kenya became the first girls from their countries to win a Grand Slam junior match. Safi is also the first hijab-wearing woman to compete at a Grand Slam.

In the women’s singles, upon defeating Simona Halep of Romania, Alize Cornet from France advanced to her first Grand Slam quarter-final after over 60 consecutive Grand Slam appearances.

Finally, Ashleigh Barty of Australia won a nail-biting final against American Danielle Collins in straight sets, becoming the first Australian woman since Christine O’Neil in 1978 to win the Australian Open. Barty, who is Aboriginal and of the Ngaragu people, is the second Aboriginal woman to win the Australian Open, after Evonne Goolagong.

Have any other highlights from women’s events at the Australian Open that we should look into, or thoughts on the future of women’s tennis? Send us your thoughts as an article (email: tandon@sa4d.org) or leave your comments below (note: you must sign in to access and post comments). View article guidelines here.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 07:19

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