10. Elena Dementieva — Grand Slams: None, Weeks at No. 1: None
Only 10 women won Grand Slam titles this decade (compared to 15 men — and they had Federer!), so the top 10 for the decade isn’t very deep. Dementieva gets the nod for her consistency (she’s finished in the top eight in six of the past seven years) and 14 tour titles. She hasn’t appeared in a Grand Slam final since 2003, however, despite numerous semifinals (including two this year).
8. Amelie Mauresmo — Grand Slams: 2, Weeks at No. 1: 39
After years of near misses, Mauresmo finally won a Grand Slam in 2006, taking the Australian Open and Wimbledon at the relatively-advanced age of 27. She became the first Frenchwoman to win two Grand Slams in a year since 1925. Her reign at the top was short-lived. Starting the next year, Mauresmo plummeted in the rankings and wouldn’t advance past the fourth round of a major for the rest of her career.
5. Jennifer Capriati — Grand Slams: 3, Weeks at No. 1: 17
At one stretch at the beginning of the decade, Jennifer Capriati won three of five Grand Slams and made the semifinals in seven straight majors. In a sport where comebacks are king, Capriati’s may have been the best. From 1993 until 2000 she wasn’t a factor in the game — playing in just six Slams from ’93 until ’98. Then, all of a sudden, she was the best women’s tennis player in the world. (For what it’s worth, I changed around the rankings of Nos. 4-8 about two dozen times.)
4. Venus Williams — Grand Slams: 7, Weeks at No. 1: 11
It’s a little hard to believe that Venus has only been No. 1 for 11 weeks in her career. Just think of what she could have done with a modicum of interest. She won half of the Wimbledons played during the decade and won four of six Slams in 2000 and 2001 (including the famed U.S. Open final against her sister in the first year of the century).
2. Justine Henin — Grand Slams: 7, Weeks at No. 1: 117
Because she didn’t overpower opponents like the Williams’ or Sharapova, casual sports fans seemed to take for granted the greatness of Henin (she dropped the Hardenne in 2007). Yet she won seven Slams and spent over two years at No. 1 (non-consecutively) in the middle of the decade. With her comeback set to begin in January, is there a chance she could appear on this same list 10 years from now?
1. Serena Williams — Grand Slams: 10, Weeks at No. 1: 84
When Serena first came along she was just Venus’s little sister. It didn’t take long for her to pass her sibling, and the rest of the tennis world, behind. She’s always the most interesting player on the court, whether it be because of her prodigious talent, unpredictable behavior or flashy outfits. One-quarter of the decade’s Grand Slam trophies are in her possession, even though it’s largely accepted that she didn’t fully utilize her talents, which only goes to show just how great Serena Williams truly is.
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