Margaret (Smith) Court

Great Champions

With 11 Australian singles, and five doubles, titles to her name Margaret Court (nee Smith) is arguably the greatest female player in the tournament's history. While not all her victories were earned in the Open era, no other player has dominated Down Under in the way that Court did in the 1960s and '70s.

Making her debut in Adelaide in 1959 aged 17, Margaret Smith became the youngest player in the tournament's history losing in the second round to eventual champion and No.4 seed Mary Reitano. In Brisbane in 1960 Smith lost the final of the girls' singles to Lesley Bowrey, only to win the women's singles the next day over Jan Lehane. That victory was the first of seven-straight Australian Open singles titles for the Albury-born Aussie.

The hype surrounding Smith's 1965 final against Maria Bueno inspired organisers to schedule the match on Kooyong's centre court, striking a blow for equality in an era when the women's decider was typically banished outside. In 1967, with seven titles to her credit, Smith took a year off and married Barry Court. She returned as Margaret Court in 1968, losing to Billie Jean King in the final before returning to her winning ways in Brisbane in 1969, avenging the 1968 loss by defeating King 6-4 6-1 in the final.

That victory marked the start of a Grand Slam gallop, the 27-year-old winning in Sydney in 1970 to kick off her sweep of that year's majors, and claiming the Australian Open trophy at the same venue in 1971. In 1972 Court took time off for the birth of her first child, Daniel, returning to the tour in 1973 to claim her 11th and last Australian Open singles title.

She made her final appearance at the tournament in 1975, losing in the quarterfinal to a young Martina Navratilova. "By then I had won everything and achieved all my goals," she said. In 2003 Australian Open organisers renamed Show Court One Margaret Court Arena in recognition of her incredible achievements.

While not all her victories were earned in the Open era, no other player has dominated Down Under in the way that Court did in the 1960s and '70s.