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Wimbledon 2021 is finally here so here are my picks for the top 5 most inspiring female tennis players.

BY LORCAN DRURY – ASSISTANT EDITORIAL INTERN

NUMBER 5 MOST INSPIRING FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: JOHANNA KONTA

After originally representing Australia from 2008, Konta switched her allegiance to the UK in 2012. Currently the British number 1 and positioned at 30 on the WTA Ranking, she has been an inspiring figure at every stage of her career. She is the first Brit in over 30 years to climb from 150 to being in the WTA’s Top 10. Konta has taken part in Wimbledon 8 times, but the highest she has ever placed is in the semi-finals. However, Konta is fresh off winning the 2021 Women’s Nottingham Open title so she is still a force to be reckoned with. She made it to Number 5 on this list as her persistence is inspiring and because she is the best British female tennis player.

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Johanna Konta practising at Wimbledon in 2016
NUMBER 4 MOST INSPIRING FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: SUE BARKER

Sue Barker is not only inspiring as a former tennis player, but for her enormous contribution to broadcasting. Her greatest tennis achievement is winning the French open in 1976, this is sadly her only Grand Slam victory. Although, this does not stop her boasting victories against Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, to name a few. However, despite an 11 year professional career, Barker is best known for her nearly 40 year career as a broadcaster. In 1994, she became the host of ‘Today at Wimbledon’ and has hosted a variety of other sports shows from BBC Sports Personality of the Year from 1994 to 2012 and the Summer Olympics from 1996 to 2012. As of this year, she was awarded with the title of CBE because of her incredible contributions to broadcasting and charity. She is an inspiring figure for all women as she shows that women can use the passion for one career to fuel another career.

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Sue Barker broadcasting in 2008
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NUMBER 3 MOST INSPIRING FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: STEFFI GRAF

There is no denying that Graf is an inspiring woman when you look at the number of records that she broke. She is the only person in history, both male and female, to ever win all four Grand Slam singles titles and the gold medal in the Olympics in the same year. On top of this, she holds the title for the longest ever reigning World Number 1 at a staggering 377 weeks. Graf is still recognised for her contribution to tennis because in 2012 Tennis Channel named her the greatest female tennis player. Moreover, just last year she was voted as the best female tennis player in The Guardian. Hopefully these records will show women across the globe that women can compete in the same league as men. 

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Steffi Graf playing at Wimbledon in 2009
NUMBER 2 MOST INSPIRING FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: SERENA WILLIAMS 

No list ranking female tennis players would be complete without the powerhouse Serena Williams. Probably the most famous female tennis player in the world, she has won the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era and is the most recent female player to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously. She is also the only tennis player to have won three out of the four Grand Slams at least six times. And she stands as the highest earning female athlete of all time in terms of prize money. Not only is she inspirational as a record player, but she is also a figure for all modern female athletes. She has also endured numerous injuries throughout her career, but always bounced back stronger. Even after giving birth in 2017, she made her return to Grand Slams in the 2018 French Open. This highlights her resilience and is why she is places second on this ranking.

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Serena Williams playing at the US Open in 2013
NUMBER 1 MOST INSPIRING FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: BILLIE JEAN KING

Billie Jean King tops this ranking because she is one of the most iconic women in history in terms of fighting for gender equality. She is the definition of an inspiring woman. In terms of her career, she was the fifth woman to win all four Grand Slams and has won 39 Grand Slam titles, 20 of which are Wimbledon titles. However, what makes her such a trailblazing woman is the fact she is an advocate for gender equality. She famously beat Bobby Briggs in her ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match in 1973 which was viewed by an over 140 million people worldwide. This was a huge step forward for female tennis players.

She campaigned for equal prize money in men’s and women’s games which convinced the US Open to become the first major tournament to give equal prize money in 1973. In the same year, she became the first President of the Women’s Tennis Association. King is also a trailblazer for all lesbian athletes as she is the first prominent female athlete to come out. She has been awarded with countless accolades such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.

Billie Jean King talking at a political campaign

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