Margaret Court is a retired Australian tennis player, and perhaps the world's most successful of all time.
Nobody has won more Grand Slams than Court; her record of 64 Majors in singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined will likely stand the test of time. Court is also still the player with the most singles Grand Slams, 24, even though Serena Williams is breathing down her neck.
Court was so successful, and so dominant, that the second biggest court at the Australian Open - the Margaret Court Arena - was named after her.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 11-time Champion (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973)
French Open: 5-time Champion (1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1973)
Wimbledon: 3-time Champion (1963, 1965, 1970)
US Open: 5-time Champion (1962, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1973)
Highest Ranking: No. 1
Style of play, strengths and weaknesses
Court was an aggressive player by nature, and frequently followed her serve and return to the net. She rarely played from the baseline, but when she did, she hit her groundstrokes flat and hard.
Court's serve and net play were both major weapons. She could smother her opponents with her all-out attack, and often ended points with well-placed overheads.
Court was also very agile around the court, and could defend effectively when forced to. She had good reach and flexibility and could hit reflex winners from both the baseline and the net.
Court's baseline play could be called a small weakness, as she didn't have the consistency that the grinders of later years possessed. But she played at a time when the courts were quick and the strings were not conducive to topspin, so practically her baseline game didn't affect her all that much.
Significant Margaret Court records
Court probably has the record for holding the most records in tennis. Here is a list of her most significant accomplishments:
- Most Grand Slam titles (singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined) of all time: 64
- Most singles titles of all time: 192
- Most Grand Slam singles titles won: 24
- Only player to complete two Career Boxed Sets (winning all the 4 Grand Slams in singles, doubles and mixed doubles)
- Most titles won in a single year, by a male or a female: 21 in 1970
- Most mixed doubles Grand Slam titles won: 21
- Only player to complete the Calendar Grand Slam in both singles and mixed doubles
- Most Australian Open singles titles won, by a male or a female: 11
- One of only two players (along with Kim Clijsters) to win at least 3 Grand Slams as a mother
Court was born Margaret Smith in Albury, New South Wales, and changed her last name upon marrying Barrymore Court in 1967. The two have four children together, the first of which was born in 1972; Court returned to the tour after her first pregnancy and went on to win a further 3 singles Grand Slams.
Court was ordained as a Pentecostal minister in 1991, and in 1995 she set up church called Victory Life Centre in Perth. She has been the senior pastor at the church ever since its creation.
Court has been known to have deeply religious views, and often makes public statements opposing LGBT rights. Players like Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King have decried this homophobic side of Court, and many have called for Margaret Court Arena to be renamed.
Court is sometimes referred to as the greatest female tennis player of all time. While that may be open for debate, there is no doubt that she has been the most successful tennis player ever. With her mountain of titles and records, it's hard to imagine any player ever coming close to her stature.
Court's achievements, both before the Open Era and in the Open Era, almost defy belief. She could defeat all of her opponents, at any place and any time. She had no genuine rivals, and in the year 1970 she swept everything that came in her path to permanently legitimize her dominance.
She couldn't be stopped even after giving birth, and to this day serves as an inspiration for working mothers everywhere.
That said, there are a few points that dilute her legacy a little. Her stranglehold on the Australian Open, which didn't attract the best players back then, was seen as a case of bullying low quality opponents. Moreover, the fact that 13 of her 24 singles Slams came before the Open Era suggests that she didn't always have to face off against the very best competition while racking up her titles.
All that said, there's no denying that Court was an institution all on her own. She set the pace for the women's game in a way that few others have done, and deserves every bit of credit for that.