Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 player, said in 2006 that Navratilova is “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.” In 2005, Tennis magazine selected her as the greatest female tennis player for the years 1965 through 2005. Tennis historian and journalist Bud Collins has called Navratilova “arguably, the greatest tennis player of all time.”
Navratilova was World No. 1 for a total of 332 weeks in singles, and a record 237 weeks in doubles, making her the only player in history to have held the top spot in both singles and doubles for over 200 weeks. She was year-end singles No. 1 seven times, including a record five consecutive years, as well as year-end doubles No. 1 five times, including three consecutive years during which she held the ranking for the entire year. She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 major mixed doubles titles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times (surpassing Helen Wills Moody‘s eight Wimbledon titles), including a run of six consecutive titles – the best performance by any professional player at a major event. She and King each won 20 Wimbledon titles, an all-time record. Navratilova is one of just three women ever to have accomplished a career Grand Slam in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles (called the Grand Slam “boxed set”), a distinction she shares with Margaret Court and Doris Hart.
Navratilova holds the records for most singles titles (167) and for most doubles titles (177) in the open era. Her record as No.1 in singles (1982–86) is the most dominant in professional tennis. Over five consecutive seasons, she won 428 of 442 singles matches, averaging fewer than 3 losses per year to 87 wins, for a sustained winning percentage of 96.8%. She holds the best season win-loss record for the open era, 86-1 (98.9%) in 1983, and four of the top six open era seasons. She recorded the longest winning streak in the open era (74 consecutive matches) and three of the six longest winning streaks. She is the only professional player to have won six major singles crowns without the loss of a set. Navratilova, Margaret Court and Maureen Connolly share the record for the most consecutive major singles titles (six). Navratilova reached 11 consecutive major singles finals, second all-time to Steffi Graf’s 13, and is the only player ever to reach 19 consecutive major semi-finals. Navratilova also won the season-ending WTA Tour Championships for top ranked players a record eight times and made the finals a record 14 times. She is the only person of either sex to have won eight different tournaments at least seven times. She was ranked in the world’s top 10 in singles for a record 20 consecutive years (1975-1994), a span which included 19 years in the top 5, 15 years in the top 3, and 7 years as the world No.1 ranked singles player.
Evert said that “Martina revolutionized the game by her superb athleticism and aggressiveness…She brought athleticism to a whole new level with her training techniques — particularly cross-training, the idea that you could go to the gym or play basketball to get in shape for tennis.”
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes…Martina Navratilova.