At the beginning of the 12 months, We Sport continues to give you its subjective rating of the best tennis gamers from the second half of the twentieth century to the current day. Here are our numbers 5!
5th (F): Billie Jean King
She doesn’t maintain the document for the variety of Grand Slams, but Billie Jean King tends to outshine her lifelong rival Margaret Court within the hearts of tennis followers. Her distinctive document (12 Grand Slams, 129 titles in complete) makes her one of the crucial influential gamers within the historical past of tennis. His profession between the novice period and the Open may even change the historical past of tennis ceaselessly. Indeed, it’s her stance within the battle for a extra equitable tennis between women and men that has positively positioned the American within the legend of this sport.
In 1973, Billie Jean King created the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and gave start to the group of ladies’s tennis as we all know it in the present day.
Beyond her battle for fairer tennis, the American can be identified for the well-known “Battle of the Sexes “. In 1973, she challenged Bobby Riggs, former world number one in his mid-50s, who was convinced that no woman could beat him on a tennis court. Wanting to end Riggs’ misogynistic and macho talk, King accepts the challenge. The event is broadcast worldwide and followed by millions of spectators. Billie Jean King will end up winning this match in 3 sets. Even today, it is considered to be a major event for the media coverage of women’s sport.
Outside of the courts, Billie Jean King is also known as the first sportswoman to come out. The former champion has always played a major role in defending the rights of women and LGBT people.
Beyond the game and her record, Billie Jean King is still today one of the key figures for equality between men and women in tennis. The Fed Cup has also been renamed “Billie Jean King Cup” in tribute to the former champion.
5th (M): Björn Borg
His hairstyle, his legendary composure, his two-handed backhand… Björn Borg’s “angel face” was the image of men’s tennis for a long time in the 1970s and 1980s.
Considered one of the greatest players of all time, Björn Borg wrote his legend on the courts of Roland Garros and Wimbledon with 11 Grand Slams to his list (6 Roland Garros, 5 Wimbledon). He was for a long time the only player to have won more than 5 Grand Slam titles, before being dethroned by Pete Sambras in 1999.
The Swede also held for 31 years the record for the most victories at Roland Garros, before a certain Rafael Nadal made Parisian clay his private garden.
His final at Wimbledon in 1980 against his rival John McEnroe is still considered one of the finest tennis matches of all time today.
Although 4 times a finalist at the US Open, he has never won the American Grand Slam. Another surprising fact is that he has only taken part in the Australian Open once. And he did not go beyond the round of 16 for his only trip to Australian soil.
The legend Björn Borg was also built by his composure on the court. Nicknamed “Iceborg”, his relentless calm contrasts with his rivals of the time (McEnroe, Connors…).
But his rock star status and the over-media coverage of his career pushed him to retire at just 26 years old. He tries a timid return to 35 years, in vain.
Photo credit: NPR