Do tall tennis players have an advantage over others? That's a difficult question to answer. Taller players do tend to have more powerful serves and groundstrokes in general, but shorter players are more agile and can cover large areas of court more quickly.
A look at the Grand Slam singles winners among women reveals that there is little correlation between height and on-court success. Billie Jean King - one of the shortest, standing at 1.64 m (5 ft 4 1⁄2 in) - won 12 Grand Slam singles titles. Meanwhile Venus Willams - one of the tallest at 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in), has also tasted considerable success at the Slam level with seven titles till date.
As per the official WTA list of player heights, most players on tour are over 5 feet and under 6 feet. But the tallest female player on record is Eva Hrdinova, standing at 1.91 metres or 6 ft 3 in.
On that note, let's take a look at the six tallest female tennis players of all time:
#6 Venus Williams (1.85 m / 6 ft 1 in)
Venus Williams along with her younger sister Serena have been the mainstay of American tennis for more than two decades. Having risen to prominence back in the 90s as a precocious teenager, Venus is still fighting it out on the tour today; even at 40, she can give much younger players a run for their money.
Venus has used her height to great advantage over the years, and her first serve has been one of the best in the world for a while. Not to be overshadowed by her younger sister Serena, Venus has seven Grand Slam titles to her name and is the most successful Olympian that the sport has ever seen - with four golds and one silver across categories.
#5 Karolína Pliskova (1.86 m / 6 ft 1 in)
Former World No. 1 Karolana Pliskova has been one of the top performers in the world over the last six years. The Czech has used her height to develop one of the best serves on tour, and has topped the WTA aces chart in four of the last five years.
Despite her high levels of consistency, the current World No. 3 has squandered many chances at the Grand Slam level. Among the top-ranked WTA players who are yet to win a Major singles title, Pliskova would be hoping to break through before she passes her prime.
= #4 Maria Sharapova (1.88 m / 6 ft 2 in)
Maria Sharapova is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous tennis players ever. Widely credited with increasing the popularity of the women's game in the last decade and a half, Sharapova has always been a bit of an enigma.
The torch-bearer of Russian tennis for years, Maria Sharapova rose to stardom at the tender age of 17 by winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the mecca of tennis - Wimbledon 2004. The perennial favorite of shutterbugs, Sharapova is one of just six players to have achieved a Career Grand Slam in tennis.
Sharapova's towering height may not have always helped her serve - she was notorious for coughing up untimely double faults - but it certainly helped her hit flat and powerful groundstrokes whenever she was in trouble.
In 2016 she tested positive for the banned drug meldonium which put a serious black mark on her legacy, and in early 2020 injuries forced her to retire earlier than she would have liked. But Sharapova remains one of the most successful female players of all time, and she has already charted a successful career transition to entrepreneurship.
= #4 Helena Sukova (1.88 m / 6 ft 2 in)
Helena Sukova is the one of the most best players to have ever emerged from erstwhile Czechoslovakia. The 55-year old hailed from a family with a rich tennis history; her mother was a Wimbledon finalist and her father was the long-term President of the Czechoslovakia Tennis Federation.
Standing at 6"2, Sukova was one of the top-ranked players in both singles and doubles in the mid-80s and -90s. Her trophy cabinet comprises 14 Grand Slam titles (nine in doubles and five in mixed doubles). A solid singles player too, Sukova was a four-time runner-up in Grand Slams and achieved a career-high singles ranking of World No. 4.
Sukova is also remembered for bringing to a halt the 74-match unbeaten streak of compatriot Martina Navratilova in the semi-finals of the 1984 Australian Open. That denied the great Navratilova a shot at winning the much-coveted Calendar Slam.
= #4 Erin Routliffe (1.88 m / 6 ft 2 in)
The youngest player in the list is 25-year-old New Zealander Erin Routliffe. Routliffe initially represented Canada before representing New Zealand - her country of birth.
In fact, she didn't turn pro until she was 22, as academic commitments kept her busy. She has won 1 singles and 13 doubles titles at the ITF level till date.
= #3 Lindsay Davenport (1.89 m / 6 ft 2 1⁄2 in)
Despite the Williams sisters hogging all the limelight in the last few years of the previous millennium, fellow American Lindsay Davenport held her own and notched up some remarkable success. She could match anyone for power off the ground, and her height helped her become one of the best serves in the world.
Davenport held the World No. 1 ranking on four different occasions, which is the joint all-time record. She won three Grand Slam singles titles in addition to the Olympic gold medal and three Grand Slam doubles trophies.
Davenport's match against Venus Williams in the final of the 2005 Wimbledon Championships will long be remembered as one of the greatest women's matches of all time. Despite having Championship points, Davenport lost to Venus in a Wimbledon record 2 hour 45 minute marathon.
= #3 Naomi Broady (1.89 m / 6 ft 2 1⁄2 in)
British athlete Naomi Broady standing at 6 ft 2 1⁄2 in comes in at number 3 on this list. The 30-year-old achieved a career-high singles ranking of 76 in March 2016.
Broady has won one WTA doubles title, as well as nine singles titles and 19 doubles titles on the ITF Women's Circuit. Her younger brother Liam Broady is also a professional tennis player.
#2 Akgul Amanmuradova (1.9 m / 6 ft 3 in)
Second in the list is 35-year-old player from Uzbekistan Akgul Amanmuradova. Currently ranked outside the top 400, Amanmuradova has two WTA doubles titles to her name in addition to nine singles titles at the ITF level.
She achieved a career high singles ranking of World Number 50 in the year 2008.
#1 Eva Hrdinova (1.91 m / 6 ft 3 in)
The tallest-ever player to have featured on the WTA tour is Czech Eva Hrdinova. She is another player who had more proclivity to the doubles game than singles.
Hrdinová reached a career-high doubles ranking of World Number 55 in 2008 and notched up three singles and 19 doubles titles on the ITF circuit.
Also read: Tallest male tennis players of all timePublished 30 Jun 2020, 15:34 IST