The biggest upsets in women’s tennis
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The biggest upsets in women’s tennis

There have been relatively few upsets at Wimbledon 2023 with five of the top seeds in the women’s singles making it through to the quarter-finals.

Surprise results are never too far away in this sport, though, as we look back at some of the biggest upsets in women’s tennis.

Martina Navratilova vs Kathleen Horvath, French Open fourth round 1983

America’s Horvath, ranked 45th in the world, had never reached the fourth round at a grand slam before but she stunned Navratilova with a 6-4 0-6 6-3 victory. Navratilova had won three of the previous four major tournaments and all 36 of her matches that year.

Steffi Graf vs Lori McNeil, Wimbledon first round 1994

Graf became the first female champion in the history of Wimbledon to surrender her crown in the opening round as she lost 7-5 7-6 (7/5) to McNeil. Graf had won four out of the last five major tournaments. “I’m disappointed but I’m not going to kill myself,” the German said afterwards.

Martina Hingis vs Iva Majoli, French Open final 1997

Croatia’s Majoli became the lowest-seeded female player to win an Open era grand slam when she defeated Martina Hingis in the 1997 French Open final. Hingis would go on to win the other three majors that year but could not find an answer to ninth seed Majoli, who beat the Swiss 6-4 6-2.

Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon final 2004

Sharapova was just 17 when she announced her arrival with a blistering 6-1 6-4 win over Williams. The American had been expected to claim her third consecutive Wimbledon title but could only stand and watch as the Russian stormed to her first major victory.

Serena Williams vs Virginie Razzano, French Open first round 2012

Ranked 111th in the world, Razzano inflicted what was Williams’s only first-round defeat at a grand slam until Wimbledon in 2022 at the back end of her career. The Frenchwoman also did it from a set and 5-1 down in the tie-break, coming back to win 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3.

Serena Williams vs Roberta Vinci, US Open semi-finals 2015

Almost any defeat for Williams was a surprise given her domination of the game but some were more of a shock than others. One of the biggest upsets in women’s tennis came in 2015 when she was beaten by unseeded Vinci at Flushing Meadows. The Italian, ranked 43rd in the world, won 2-6 6-4 6-4 to end the American’s hopes of clinching the first calendar grand slam since 1988.

Leylah Fernandez vs Aryna Sabalenka, US Open semi-finals 2021

Teenagers went on the rampage in New York as Fernandez and Emma Raducanu stunned the tennis world by reaching the US Open final. Fernandez, ranked 73 in the world, laid waste to a who’s who of women’s tennis during the fortnight as she knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 winner Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Elina Svitolina but beating second seed Sabalenka was arguably the biggest upset of them all before Raducanu won the final.

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