Tennis is one sport that has stood the test of time, with thousands of players turning professional and wielding the racquet in Grand Slams over the years.
Throughout the documented history of tennis, there have been players who have left an indelible mark on the game, whether through their success, persona or sheer will to win. The 10 players listed below also enjoy a unique distinction, of being the shortest players ever to pick up a racquet.
On our journey to compile the most accurate list of shortest tennis players of all time, we came across plenty of inaccuracies and historical evidence to make this a challenging proposition. The criterion for selection was that the player had to have played some sort of professional tennis during his or her career.
In our quest to prepare a list that would be the final and definitive word on shortest players in tennis, we came up with this:
10) Billie Jean King
Height: 1.63m (5 feet 4.2 inches)
Billie Jean King is a name synonymous with women’s tennis. Winner of 39 Grand Slam titles, including a record 22 Wimbledon singles and doubles titles, King dominated women’s tennis for a long spell.
Her continuous protests against gender inequality led to the creation of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), and a “Battle of the Sexes” match against former men’s champions Bobby Riggs in September 1973, which King won in three sets.
And she did all this despite being 5 feet 4.2 inches, a height handicap compared to her peers. Truly staggering.
9) Maureen Connolly
Height: 1.63m (5 feet 4 inches)
Maureen Connolly, nicknamed “Little Mo” on account of her diminutive stature, was the darling of the tennis world in the early 50s. She was the first woman to win all four Grand Slams in the same calendar year (1953), and was also the youngest woman to win the prestigious US Championships, when at 16 she claimed the 1951 title.
In an era of serve-and-volleyers, she was a baseline specialist, with tremendous power and accuracy in her groundstrokes. By the age of 19, she had already collected 12 Grand Slam titles, but her career ended abruptly courtesy a freak horseback riding accident.
“Little Mo” died of cancer at the age of 34, but her short yet successful tennis career gave hope to other players of similar stature. In Connolly’s case, height was just a number.