The week of April 22 marks the 50th anniversary since the inception of the Open Era in tennis in 1968. To celebrate, we look back at some of the key champions, milestones and records of the past five decades.
Virginia Wade, who would go on to capture three Grand Slam titles including Wimbledon in 1977, won the first event of the Open Era – the British Hard Court Open Championships held at Bournemouth, England, from April 22-27, 1968 (AELTC)
As well as becoming the first Grand Slam champion of the Open Era at 1968 Roland Garros, Nancy Richey (pictured in back row, second from right) was a member of the trailblazing Original 9 in 1970 (WTA)
Margaret Court’s 21 titles in 1970 remains the best single-season effort by any woman in the Open Era, her run taking in a calendar year Grand Slam of all four majors
Taking place three months after she founded the WTA in June 1973, Billie Jean King’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ encounter with Bobby Riggs remains the most watched tennis match of all time. Estimated global audience: 90 million
As well as building the longest win streak on a single surface – 125 matches on clay between 1973 and 1979 – Chris Evert retired with what remains the best career win-loss percentage – 90.0%.
Martina Navratilova elevated athleticism in the game and won more Open Era titles than any other, in both singles (167, including a record 1,442 match wins) and doubles (177)
Germany’s Stefanie Graf spent the most weeks as singles No.1 (377) and also posted the most year-end No.1 finishes in the top spot – eight, including 1988, the year of her unique ‘Golden Slam’
Soon after becoming the youngest Grand Slam champion of the 20th century at the 1997 Australian Open, Martina Hingis became the youngest to top the WTA Rankings at just 16 years, three months
Venus Williams, herself a key activist for pay parity in tennis, was victorious at Wimbledon in 2007 – the Slam that marked the historic achievement of equal prize money across all four majors after decades of campaigning
In 2011, for the first time 10 different nations were represented in the Top 10 of the rankings and China’s Li Na was victorious at Roland Garros – the first Asian to win a Slam in singles
In 2012, Maria Sharapova lifted the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in Paris, becoming the sixth woman to complete a career Grand Slam in the Open Era
From Tracy Austin to Caroline Wozniacki and Evonne Goolagong Cawley to Monica Seles, 19 world beaters attended the WTA’s 40 Love celebration during 2013 Wimbledon – the most WTA No.1s ever to share the same room
Already the oldest player to win a Grand Slam singles title, by capturing the 2017 Australian Open, Serena Williams passed Graf for most Grand Slam singles titles won in the Open Era – 23