Margaret Court

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Margaret Court
Country (sports) Australia
ResidencePerth, Australia
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Turned pro1960
Prize money-
Int. Tennis HoF1979 (member page)
Career record-
Career titles92 during open era
Highest ranking1 (1973)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenW (11) (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973)
French OpenW (5) (1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1973)
WimbledonW (3) (1963, 1965, 1970)
US OpenW (5) (1962, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1973)
Career record-
Career titles48 during open era
Highest ranking-
Last updated on: 27 January 2007.

Margaret Court, AO MBE, (born 16 July 1942, also known as Margaret Smith Court) is a retired former World number one-ranked tennis player from Australia. In 1970, she became the first woman during the open era and the second woman ever to win all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same calendar year. Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other player. She won 62 Grand Slam titles overall (24 singles, 19 women's doubles, and 19 mixed doubles), again, more than any other player. The International Tennis Hall of Fame states, "For sheer strength of performance and accomplishment there has never been a tennis player to match (her)."[1]


Born Margaret Smith in 1942, in Albury, New South Wales, she was the youngest of the four children of Lawrence Smith and Catherine Smith (née Beaufort). She has two older brothers Kevin and Vincent and sister June. Margaret began playing tennis when she was eight years old and was 17 when she won the first of seven consecutive singles titles at the 1960 Australian Championships.

After Wimbledon in 1966, Court temporarily retired from tennis. She married Barrymore Court in 1967 and became known as Margaret Smith Court or Margaret Court. She returned to tennis in 1968 and won all four Grand Slam singles titles in 1970. The next year, Court lost the Wimbledon singles final to Evonne Goolagong Cawley while pregnant with her first child, Daniel, who was born in March 1972. Court made a comeback the same year and played in the US Open. Her second child, Marika, was born in 1974. Court started playing again but retired permanently in 1977 when she learned she was expecting the third of her four children.

Court is one of only three players to have achieved a career "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles, winning every possible Grand Slam title – singles, same-sex doubles and mixed doubles – at all four Grand Slam events. The others are Doris Hart and Martina Navrátilová. Court, however, is the only person to have won all 12 Grand Slam events at least twice. She also is unique in having completed a boxed set before the start of the open era in 1968 and a separate boxed set after the start of the open era.

Court is widely remembered for having lost a heavily publicized and U.S.–televised challenge match to a former World No. 1 male tennis player, the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, on Mother's Day, 13 May 1973, in Ramona, California. Court was the top-ranked women's player at the time, and it has been written that she did not take the match seriously, assuming that she would win without difficulty. Using a mixture of lobs and drop shots, however, Riggs beat her 6–2, 6–1. Four months later, Billie Jean King beat Riggs in the even more famous Battle of the Sexes match in the Houston Astrodome.

In 1979, Court was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

In January 2003, Show Court One at Melbourne Park was renamed Margaret Court Arena. Also in 2003, Australia Post honoured her and fellow Australian tennis Rod Laver by putting their images on postage stamps.

As of October 2008, Court lives in Perth, Western Australia.

Her father-in-law, Sir Charles Court, and brother-in-law, Richard Court, were Liberal premiers of Western Australia.

Religious faith

Court was raised as a Catholic, but became a Pentecostal in the mid-1970s. In 1983, she gained a theological qualification from the Rhema Bible Training Centre and in 1991 became a minister. Court subsequently went on to found a ministry known as the Margaret Court Ministries. [2]

In 1995, Court founded Victory Life Centre in Perth,[3] a Pentecostal church. She still serves as its senior pastor. Her television show, A Life of Victory, appears on the Australian Christian Channel. She has generally embraced teachings associated with the Word of Faith movement.[2]

Views on homosexuality

In 1990, Court said that Martina Navrátilová and other lesbian and bisexual players were ruining the sport of tennis and setting a bad example for younger players.[4][5][6]

In November 1994, when delivering a speech at Parliament House in Canberra, Court exclaimed that "Homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord! Abortion is an abomination to the Lord!"[2]

In 2002, Court said that homosexuals commit "sins of the flesh" and can be "changed".[7] She stated that when the open era started, "there was quite a lot of [homosexuality] in there" and added that "a few of the older ones ... were [homosexual]", with younger players being "sort of snared in with it".[7] These comments were made in the context of Damir Dokić's claim that he would kill himself if his high-profile professional tennis-playing daughter, Jelena, became a lesbian.[8]

Court campaigned against laws proposed and eventually passed by the Government of Western Australia in 2002 that gave gay people and lesbians equal legal rights as de facto couples.[7] In an interview she gave on Australian television concerning the laws, she expressed a belief that homosexuality could destroy families.[9]

Career timeline

  • 1960 - Won her first singles title at the Australian Championships but lost the junior girls final there to Lesley Turner Bowrey.
  • 1962 - Won three of the four Grand Slam singles tournaments.
  • 1963 - Became the first Australian woman to win a singles title at Wimbledon. She and Ken Fletcher became the only team to win all four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles during the same calendar year.
  • 1964 - Won three of the four Grand Slam mixed doubles tournaments. Her women's doubles title at Wimbledon completed her career "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles.
  • 1965 - Won three of the four Grand Slam singles tournaments and all four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, with three different partners.
  • 1966 - Temporarily retired.
  • 1969 - Won three of the four Grand Slam singles and mixed doubles tournaments.
  • 1970 - Won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments, defeating Kerry Melville Reid in the Australian Open final, Helga Niessen Masthoff in the French Open final, Billie Jean King in the Wimbledon final, and Rosemary Casals in the US Open final. Maureen Connolly Brinker in 1953 and Steffi Graf in 1988 are the only other women who have won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments during the same calendar year.
  • 1973 - Won three of the four Grand Slam singles and women's doubles tournaments. Lost her match with Bobby Riggs. Her women's doubles title at the US Open completed a "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles won exclusively after the start of the open era in 1968.
  • 1975 - Played the final Grand Slam singles match of her career, losing to Martina Navrátilová in a quarterfinal of the US Open 6–2, 6–4. Partnered with Virginia Wade at the US Open to win her 62nd Grand Slam title and 19th Grand Slam women's doubles title, defeating King and Casals in the final. This was Court's last Grand Slam title.
  • 1977 - Played the final singles match of her career, defeating Greer Stevens in the third round of the Virginia Slims Championships of Detroit 5–7, 7–6, 6–3. Court defaulted the quarterfinal to Françoise Durr upon learning that she was pregnant with her third child.

Grand Slam titles and world rankings

Court won a record 62 Grand Slam titles, including a record 24 singles titles, 19 women's doubles titles, and a record 19 mixed doubles titles. She won 64 Grand Slam titles, including 21 mixed doubles titles, if the shared championships at the Australian Championships/Open in 1965 and 1969 are counted. The finals were not played because of bad weather. Court could have won even more mixed doubles titles had the event been held at the 1970, 1971, 1973, and 1975 Australian Opens.

Court won 62 of the 85 Grand Slam finals (72.9%) she played, including 24-5 (82.8%) in singles finals, 19-14 (57.6%) in women's doubles finals, and 19-4 (82.6%) in mixed doubles finals.

Court reached the final in 29, the semifinals in 36, and the quarterfinals in 43 of the 47 Grand Slams singles tournaments she played. Her won-lost record in Grand Slam singles tournaments was 210-23 .901 (47-5 at the French Championships/Open, 51-9 at Wimbledon, 51-6 at the U.S. Championships/Open, and 61-3 at the Australian Championships/Open). She won 11 of the 16 Grand Slam singles tournaments she entered beginning with the 1969 Australian Open and ending with the 1973 US Open. She also won 11 of the 17 Grand Slam singles tournaments she entered beginning with the 1962 Australian Championships and ending with the 1966 Australian Championships. Court was 146-2 (98.6%) against unseeded players in Grand Slam singles tournaments.

Court is the only player to have won the calendar year Grand Slam in both singles and mixed doubles. She won the singles Grand Slam in 1970, the mixed doubles Grand Slam in 1963 with fellow Australian Ken Fletcher, and the mixed doubles Grand Slam in 1965 with three different partners (Fletcher, John Newcombe, and Fred Stolle).

Court won more than half of the Grand Slam events held in 1963 (8 of 12), 1964 (7 of 12), 1965 (9 of 12), 1969 (8 of 12), 1970 (7 of 11), and 1973 (6 of 11).

According to the end-of-year rankings compiled by London's Daily Telegraph from 1914 through 1972, Court was ranked World No. 1 six times: 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969, and 1970. Court also was ranked No. 1 for 1973, when the official rankings were produced by the Women's Tennis Association.

Career statistics


  • These records were attained in Open Era of tennis.
Grand Slam Years Record accomplished Player tied
Australian Open 1969-73 4 wins overall Evonne Goolagong Cawley
Steffi Graf
Monica Seles
Serena Williams
Australian Open 1969-71 3 consecutive wins Evonne Goolagong Cawley,
Steffi Graf
Monica Seles,
Martina Hingis


See also


  1. ^ "Hall of Famers - Margaret Court Smith "The Arm"". International Tennis Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  2. ^ a b c Brian Baxter, "Margaret Court's Word of Faith", The Skeptics, Vol 27 No 3, Spring 2007.
  3. ^ Victory Life Centre, Perth Western Australia
  4. ^ Gay Bias Moves Off The Sidelines
  5. ^ A Woman of Character
  6. ^ Martina Navratilova: My Final Farewell
  7. ^ a b c "Damir may have a point, says our greatest women's player", Sydney Morning Herald, 2002-12-19CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  8. ^ Bierley, Stephen (2002-12-17). "Damir may disappear but Jelena suffers still". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
  9. ^ WA seeks changes to conservative bills
  10. ^ It's an Honour - Member of the Order of the British Empire
  11. ^ It's an Honour - Australian Sports Medal
  12. ^ It's an Honour - Centenary Medal
  13. ^ It's an Honour - Officer of the Order of Australia

External links

Preceded by
Maureen Connolly Brinker (1953)
Calendar year grand slam champions
Succeeded by
Steffi Graf (1988)