Australia's Leading Women

Player profiles of Australian women's tennis champions - past and present.

Ash Barty (2019) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

ASHLEIGH BARTY

Ash Barty (2012) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Junior (2011-2012)

The Queenslander burst onto the tennis scene in a big way in 2011, when, as a 15-year-old, she won the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon. The result prompted highly-regarded Australian coach David Taylor to declare: ''She's a complete tennis player, an updated and better version of (Martina) Hingis. I haven't seen anyone with this much potential before.” Barty then led Australia’s Junior Fed Cup team to victory two months later and hit a career-high junior ranking of No.2 in December 2011, the same month she beat a succession of higher-ranked, more experienced players to win the Australian Open Play-off. That result earned Barty a main-draw wildcard at Australian Open 2012, marking her progression to the professional ranks; she would play just one more junior tournament for her entire career.

Ash Barty (2013) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Doubles success (2013)

Barty combined with Casey Dellacqua in doubles at Australian Open 2013 and, in just their third tournament together, the pair advanced to the final. It was the start of a magnificent 2013 campaign during which they also reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals, won their first title together in Birmingham – Barty’s first tour-level title – and Barty rose to world No.12 in the WTA doubles rankings. The partnership with Dellacqua, who would become a close friend and confidante as Barty navigated the early stages of her career, provided the emerging talent with invaluable experience on the game’s biggest stages and in high-pressure situations.

Ash Barty (2017) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Comeback (2017)

Following the 2014 US Open, Barty walked away from tennis. “For me it turned into a little bit of a slog, and I wasn’t enjoying it quite as much as I would have liked,” she later told the New York Times. But a friendly hit in Sydney with Dellacqua proved a pivotal moment; she realised how much she loved it, and wanted to give her professional career another shot. She returned to the singles court in mid 2016 and after a truncated season returned as a force in 2017, reaching the third round of the Australian Open, winning her first WTA singles title in Kuala Lumpur and rising from No.271 to No.17 by season’s end, seeing her nominated for the WTA’s Comeback Player of the Year award.

Ash Barty (2019) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Rise to the top (2019)

Barty consolidated her gains of 2017 with another top-20 season in 2018. But it was in 2019 when she attained an even more impressive level. Beginning the season with a run to the Sydney International final, she then advanced to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open and two months later cracked the top 10 after winning the Miami Open. That was her biggest career title, yet just two months later she bettered that when she stormed through the field to win the French Open, beating Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets in the final to become the first Australian champion in Paris since 1973. Just two weeks later, Barty made a brilliant transition to grass, winning her very next tournament in Birmingham – a triumph that saw her rise to world No.1. Just four other Australians – John Newcombe, Evonne Goolagong, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt – have attained the top singles ranking.

Ash Barty (1993) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Fed Cup spearhead

The young Queenslander made a winning debut in singles in 2013; in her first live Fed Cup rubber she beat Stefanie Voegele in Switzerland to help Australia maintain its place in the World Group. Since 2017, Barty has emerged as the team’s spearhead; since her three-set loss to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the first round of World Group II that year, Barty is undefeated in 14 Fed Cup rubbers across both singles and doubles. In keeping with her magnificent form in 2019, Barty has won all six of her Fed Cup rubbers in 2019 – four in singles, two in doubles – to lead Australia into its first Fed Cup final since 1993.

Sam Stosur (2019) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

SAM STOSUR

Sam Stosur by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Early years (1999-2004)

Samantha Stosur first played a professional tournament in 1998, the initial step in what would eventually unfold as a glittering pro career. The Australian made steady, if unspectacular progress, improving her ranking each year and cracking the top 100 in April 2004. Her first professional singles titles came in 2001 when she won three successive ITF tournaments in Japan, while she made her Fed Cup debut for Australia in 2003. At the end of 2004, Stosur had risen to world No.65 after playing in the main draw at all four major tournaments within a single season for the first time.

Sam Stosur (2005) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Doubles success (2005-2006)

In 2005, Stosur combined with Scott Draper to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title – her first Grand Slam trophy. Later that season, she commenced a doubles partnership with American Lisa Raymond that would lead to more Grand Slam success; the duo won the US Open and WTA Championships among five titles in 2005 and reached the final of Australian Open 2006, results helping Stosur rise to become the doubles world No.1. She and Raymond also won the Roland Garros title – one of 10 titles in a stunning 2006 season – and finished with 20 titles from 26 finals together. Stosur also enjoyed success with other partners, reaching Wimbledon finals in 2009 (with Rennae Stubbs) and 2011 (with Sabine Lisicki) and winning Wimbledon mixed titles in 2008 and 2014 with Bob Bryan and Nenad Zimonic respectively.  

Sam Stosur by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Singles peak (2009-2012)

Stosur suffered a wretched run of health problems in 2007; viral meningitis and Lyme disease sidelined her for almost a year. Yet she was a player transformed when she returned in 2008. With a renewed focus on her singles career, results came quickly; in 2009 she stormed to her first Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open and won her first WTA title in Osaka. At the 2010 French Open she produced an inspiring run – beating Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic in succession – to reach her first major singles final, where she fell to Francesca Schiavone. The disappointment fueled her; shortly after that she reached her first US Open quarterfinal and a year later she went all the way to the title, stunning Serena in straight sets in the final at Flushing Meadows to become Australia’s first female Grand Slam champion in 31 years. Hitting a career-high ranking of No.4 in 2011, Stosur completed her third consecutive top-10 season in 2012, a year she reached yet another French Open semifinal and won her third successive Newcombe Medal – Australia’s top tennis honour. 

Sam Stosur by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Fed Cup representation (2003-2019)

Few players have recorded Fed Cup statistics as impressive as Stosur’s. Her introduction to the team competition was a rocky one; she lost four of her first five singles rubbers. But once she hit her stride in 2005 she was nearly unstoppable, winning 18 of her next 21 singles rubbers and going undefeated in 10 singles matches across 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Queenslander has gone on to win 29 singles rubbers – the most of any Australian in Fed Cup history – and she is also a flawless 8-0 in doubles matches. Three of those doubles victories came in fifth and final live rubbers – including her win with Ash Barty over Belarusians Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka to send Australia into the 2019 final – and are victories Stosur cherishes as some of the finest of her career.

Sam Stosur (2019) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Later years (2013-2019)

While she has not maintained the same heights in singles as her peak years of 2009-2012, Stosur has gone on to win a further six WTA titles and in 2016 progressed to her fourth French Open semifinal, a result that boosted her back inside the world’s top 15. In 2017 she extended her run as Australia’s No.1 female singles player to an incredible 452 consecutive weeks before Daria Gavrilova surpassed her in June. Stosur completed her 15th consecutive top-100 season in 2018, and at Australian Open 2019 she and Chinese partner Zhang Shuai scored a hugely popular doubles victory that delivered Stosur her first Grand Slam women’s doubles crown in 13 years – and first on home soil.

Fed Cup team for Australia 2014 (2014) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

ALICIA MOLIK

Alicia Molik by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Rise, singles success

A big-serving, attacking player who came out of Adelaide, Alicia Molik emerged on the tennis circuit in the late 1990s, cracking the top 100 in 1999 and the top 50 in 2001. Her peak years were 2003-2005; she opened the 2003 season with her first career WTA title in Hobart. In the second half of 2004, Molik was arguably the game’s hottest player, winning Olympic singles bronze in Athens and claiming three WTA titles, including the Tier 1 crown in Zurich. She continued that form into 2005, winning the Sydney International, advancing to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open and cracking the top 10, peaking at No.8 on 28 February.Shortly after that, she contracted an inner-ear infection – severely affecting her health, balance and vision – that derailed her career. After several months off tour and having slipped outside the top 150, she returned in 2006 and rose as high as No.57 in 2007. Injuries began to impact her and she retired in September 2008, before launching a comeback one year later. She returned to the top 100 for several months in 2010 before retiring permanently after reaching the second round of Australian Open 2011.

Alicia Molik (1999) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Fed Cup career

The same year she cracked the top 100, Molik was first selected for Australia’s Fed Cup team in 1999, beginning a distinguished 10-year career in the team competition. She made a resounding debut, going 4-2 in her six rubbers across singles and doubles in 1999 to help return Australia to the World Group. In 22 ties, Molik notched 12 victories in singles and six in doubles.

Alicia Molik by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Doubles prowess

For all her singles achievements, Molik was even more successful in the tandem game, winning two Grand Slam titles – Australian Open 2005, with Svetlana Kuznetsova, and the 2007 French Open, with Mara Santangelo – and peaking at world No.6 in 2005. She was a Grand Slam finalist three times in mixed doubles; at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2004 with Todd Woodbridge, and at Wimbledon in 2007 with Jonas Bjorkman. She was also a part of the Australian Hopman Cup team, alongside Lleyton Hewitt, which advanced to the 2003 final.

Alicia Molik by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Fed Cup captaincy

In 2013, Molik took over as Australia’s Fed Cup captain from David Taylor and began a successful stint which continues to this day. From 2013 to 2015 the team was entrenched in the World Group, before dropping down to World Group II in 2016. The squad – currently on a five-tie winning streak – won its way back into the World Group in 2018 and in 2019 progressed to its first final since 1993. Molik has presided over a team predominantly featuring Sam Stosur, Casey Dellacqua, Ash Barty and Daria Gavrilova and has fostered an enviable culture to which Australia’s female players have responded strongly. “I’m just so proud of my team,” Molik beamed after Australia’s semifinal triumph over Belarus in Brisbane in April.

Nicole Pratt by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

NICOLE PRATT

Nicole Pratt (1991) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Junior/early career (1990-1998)

Hailing from the Queensland city of Mackay, Nicole Pratt emerged as a promising prospect when she won the Australian Open 1991 girls’ singles title at the age of 17. For years she toiled on the circuit; from 1990 to 1996 her year-end WTA ranking hovered around No.200. But in 1997 and 1998 she significantly improved that; in 1997 she reached her first WTA quarterfinal (in Surabaya, Indonesia) and in 1998 she played in the main draw at all four Grand Slam tournaments for the first time. That year she also debuted in the top 100 (on 30 March) and was selected for Australia’s Fed Cup team for the first time, winning both her singles rubbers during Australia’s 5-0 drubbing of Argentina in the World Group II Play-offs.

Nicole Pratt (1999) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Peak years (1999-2007)

In 1999, Pratt rose to a new level, reaching a Grand Slam third round for the first time at the Australian Open and notching her first top-20 win over Sandrine Testud on grass in Birmingham, finishing the season inside the top 60. She also established herself as Australia’s leading Fed Cup player, winning all four of her rubbers – three singles, one doubles – to return the nation to the World Group. She continued to build on that form. In April 2000 she cracked the top 50 and the following year advanced to her first WTA final in Shanghai. She peaked at world No.35 in June 2002 and at Australian Open 2003 she beat seeds Silvia Farina Elia and Paola Suarez to reach the fourth round, her best singles result at a major tournament. In 2004, she broke through for her first WTA title in Hyderabad at age 31, making her the then-oldest first-time tournament winner in WTA history. Pratt ended the 2007 season ranked No.71, the eighth time in nine seasons she’d finished in the year-end top 100. In doubles, she won nine WTA titles and attained a career-high ranking of No.18 in September 2001.

Nicole Pratt (2015) by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Post career (2008-)

In 2007, a knee injury began to wear Pratt down and she retired after the Australian Open in 2008. She has remained heavily involved with tennis, coaching Australian players such as Casey Dellacqua and Daria Gavrilova, and beginning work at the Australian Institute of Sport in 2009 while also working as a television commentator. In January 2015, Pratt was appointed Australia’s new Fed Cup coach and head of women’s professional tennis, positions she continues to hold.

Celebrating our Indigenous tennis ambassadors Ash Barty and Evonne Goolagong Cawley by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

EVONNE GOOLAGONG CAWLEY

Evonne Goolagong Cawley by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Early career (1967-1970) 

Goolagong’s career began at the tail-end of the amateur era when she competed at the Australian Championships of 1967. Prior to 1971 she played just one Grand Slam tournament outside of Australia – she reached the second round of Wimbledon in 1970 – with her best result a quarterfinal run at Australian Open 1970. Goolagong started playing tennis as a young girl in her rural home town of Balleran, New South Wales by hitting a ball against a wall with a board from an apple crate. In 1965, her talent caught the eye of Sydney-based coach Vic Edwards and she moved to the city to develop her game and complete her schooling.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Peak years (1971-1976)

While still a teenager, Goolagong won her first two Grand Slam singles titles back-to-back at the French Open and Wimbledon of 1971. She ended that season as the world’s No.1 player, although unofficially so – WTA computer rankings were not introduced until 1975. The year 1971 was the beginning of a remarkable run of sustained success for the Australian; in a six-year span she reached 16 Grand Slam singles finals – winning five, including the first of four Australian Opens in 1974 – and ascended to world No.1 in April 1976, the year she became pregnant with her first child after marrying Roger Cawley in 1975.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Motherhood and resurgence (1977-1983)

After a year away, Goolagong Cawley returned to tennis in late 1977 and from November that year to March 1978 she went on a tear, winning 46 of 49 matches – during that run she won Australian Open 1977, held in December -- and rising to world No.3. After severely injuring her ankle at Wimbledon 1978, she would capture the title two years later at the All England Club, becoming the first mother to win the Venus Rosewater Dish since 1914. It was her last Grand Slam singles title. After that, recurring injuries and a second pregnancy meant she played sporadically during the early 1980s, and she officially retired in 1983.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Accolades

Goolagong Cawley ranked in the top 10 for nine years and won seven Grand Slam singles titles from 18 finals. Her 13 major titles overall included five in women’s doubles and one in mixed. She was a part of three winning Australian Fed Cup teams – 1971, 1973 and 1974 – and won an incredible 84 career singles titles. Renowned for her grace, ethereal touch and fluid court speed, Goolagong Cawley was named Australian of the Year in 1971 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1988, the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 1994.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Ambassador and tennis involvement 

Serving as Australia’s Fed Cup captain from 2002 to 2004, Goolagong Cawley remains passionate about getting kids involved in tennis, especially those with indigenous backgrounds. The 68-year-old has worked tirelessly in this space, establishing the Evonne Goolagong Foundation and launching initiatives such as Indigenous Tennis ‘Come and Try’ days, national development camps and the annual National Indigenous Tennis Carnival in 2018. In 1997 she became Sports Ambassador to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Communities, and after being made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1982, she was advanced to Companion of the Order of Australia in 2018 in recognition of her “eminent service to tennis as a player at the national and international level, as an ambassador, supporter and advocate for the health, education and wellbeing of young Indigenous people through participation in sport, and as a role model.”

Margaret Court by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

MARGARET COURT

Margaret Court by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Early career (1960-1966)

Then known as Margaret Smith, the girl from Albury announced herself as a force in the sport when she scooped her first two Australian singles titles (in 1960 and 1961) as a teenager. Her victory at Wimbledon in 1963 saw her complete a career Grand Slam – she lifted her first trophies in Paris and New York in 1962 – and when she walked away from the sport following the Wimbledon Championships of 1966, she had already won 13 major singles titles (from 16 finals) including seven in her home country. In that first portion of her career, Smith also combined with Ken Fletcher to complete the mixed doubles Grand Slam of 1963, and was a part of Australia’s champion Federation Cup teams of 1964 and 1965.

Margaret Court by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Zenith (1968-1971)

Smith returned as Margaret Court, having married Barry Court in 1967. When she began competing regularly again in 1968, the tennis landscape was vastly different, with the sport transitioning into the professional, or “Open” era. She returned to her winning ways in 1969 by scooping three major singles titles and bettered that in 1970, completing the coveted Grand Slam after winning the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US titles in a single stellar season. The following year, she reached a fifth Wimbledon final – this time pregnant with her first child – where she fell to Evonne Goolagong. She did not play again for another year.

Margaret Court by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Tour veteran (1973-1977)

Court very nearly won a second calendar-year Grand Slam in singles in 1973 when she won the Australian, French and US titles in a triumphant return to the sport; she tripped up in the Wimbledon semifinals in three sets against Chris Evert. Women’s professional tennis was now in full swing; the WTA Tour was formed on the eve of Wimbledon 1973. Competing on the burgeoning Virginia Slims circuit, Court won a tour-high 18 titles from 19 finals that season. Despite not winning another Grand Slam singles title, Court continued to compete well into the 1970s, with her last Grand Slam singles appearance – after having a second child in 1974 – coming at the US Open at Forest Hills in 1975 (pictured). She retired in 1977, aged 35.

Margaret Court by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Doubles excellence 

While her singles accomplishments gained her the most attention, Court was also a formidable doubles player, winning 19 major women’s doubles titles and 21 in mixed to finish her career with a record haul of 64 Grand Slam titles. In addition to her incredible mixed doubles partnership with Fletcher – a combination that earned 10 major trophies – she teamed successfully with Lesley Bowrey, Judy Dalton and Evonne Goolagong throughout her career. Her final four women’s doubles crowns came with Briton Virginia Wade, the last of those at the 1975 US Open.

Margaret Court by Tennis AustraliaTennis Australia

Honours and accolades

Court’s career is defined by her records, including an unmatched 11 singles titles at the Australian Open. She is one of just three women – the others being Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova – to have achieved a Triple Crown (singles, doubles and mixed) at the one Grand Slam tournament, which she completed at the Australian Championships of 1963 and the 1970 US Open. She also owns a “boxed set” of Grand Slam titles, having triumphed in singles, doubles and mixed at all four major tournaments throughout her career. Court was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2003, Show Court 1 at Melbourne Park was re-named Margaret Court Arena in her honour. She is also the recipient of an Australian Sports Medal, Centenary Medal and ITF Philipp Chatrier Award.

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