I found this list harder to compile than its male counterpart. I think my final reasoning is sound, but it is certainly not infallible.
Top 10 Female Australian Open Champions
- Serena Williams – Serena claimed her first title in Melbourne in 2003 to clinch her first Serena Slam. Much like Jimmy Connors streak of winning the US Open in even numbered years 1974-1978, Serena won the Australian Open every odd numbered year from 2003-2009. She has added titles in 2010 and 2015 to her haul. Serena can also add to her 6 titles before she retires.
- Monica Seles – Monica Seles has a case for the top slot on this list. Monica won the Australian Open in 1991 to claim the #1 ranking and her second major title. Seles also won the title in 1992 and 1993. Tragedy struck Seles’ career after a madman perpetrated an act of violence that derailed her dominance. Seles returned from her injuries during the summer of 1995. She won the Canadian Open, was runner-up at the US Open, and then won the 1996 Australian Open. This would be Seles final Grand Slam title. She never returned to her pre-stabbing form, but winning a 4th Australian Open title after a 2 year absence due to being stabbed puts Seles in a unique spot as a champion in Melbourne.
- Steffi Graf – Graf also won in Melbourne 4 times. Her dominating 1988 started with a title on the new Rebound Ace courts in Melbourne. Graf also won the 1988 title with the roof closed in the second set due to rain making her the first major title winner to win under a roof. Graf won in 1989 and 1990 as well. Her runner-up finish in 1993 to Monica Seles was followed by a dominating performance in the 1994 Australian Open final. No one called it a “Steffi Slam”, but Graf held all four major titles in a non-calendar year when she won the 1989 and 1994 Australian Open titles.
- Martina Hingis – There are two other players who won 4 or more Australian Open titles who will be ranked behind Hingis’ 3 titles down under. My reasoning revolves around the weakness of the Australian Open in the 1970s. Hingis won the Australian Open in 1997, 1998, and 1999. She was runner-up in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Reaching 6 consecutive finals in Melbourne and winning 3 of them place Hingis at 4th on my list. She was tested by tough draws during most of these 6 deep runs in Melbourne.
- Margaret Court Smith – Court won 11 total Australian Championships with 4 coming in the Open Era. Court is the greatest numeric Australian Championships/Open player ever, but in the Open Era alone she is behind a few other champions. Court defeated Billy Jean King and Evonne Goolagong Cawley twice in these Open Era triumphs.
- Martina Navratilova – Like Martina Hingis, Navratilova won the Australian Open 3 times and was runner-up three times. Her championship appearances were more spaced out than those of Hingis, but her numbers were quite strong on the Aussie grass. In 1988, Martina lost in the semifinal round on Rebound Ace and never made much of an impression on the Australian Open hard courts.
- Evonne Goolagong Cawley – Goolagong won the Aussie title 4 times and was runner-up another 3 times. She posted title wins over Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. She also won the title in 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1977 without winning 4 consecutive titles! The Australian Open moved from being at the beginning of the tennis season to being at the end of the tennis season in 1977. The tournament was held twice in 1977 and had two different winners. This sort of thing makes me look at the titles in the 1970s with a suspicious eye. How many non-Australian players were traveling to Australia? How strong were the fields at these events? Still, 7 appearances in the championship round with 4 titles cannot be dismissed.
- Jennifer Capriati – Jennifer won back-to-back titles in Melbourne in 2001 and 2002. She had to defeat an accomplished champion in Martina Hingis in both title matches. She also had to defeat the defending champion, Lindsay Davenport, in the 2001 semifinal round. Capriati makes up for a lack of quantity with quality wins.
- Chris Evert – Evert won the Australian Open in 1982 and 1984. Evert was runner-up at the Australian Open in 1974, 1981, 1985, and 1988 losing to Goolagong, Navratilova twice, and Graf. Evert reached the final round in all 6 of her Australian Open appearances. Evert was able to reach the championship round on grass and on hard courts as well.
- Victoria Azarenka – I really wanted to place Hana Mandlikova at the 10th spot as she won the final grass court event in Australia in 1987 and won the title in 1980 as well. By facing tougher draws, Victoria Azarenka gets the nod though. Vika, along with Serena, can add to her Melbourne totals. Azarenka dominated Maria Sharapova, a fine performer in Australia, to win the 2012 Australian Open title. In 2013, Vika had to dig deep to defeat Na Li, another player with a great history in Melbourne.