Margaret Court (nee Smith) was Inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 as an Athlete Member for her contribution to the sport of tennis and was Elevated to “Legend of Australian Sport” in 1998.
Court is widely considered to be one of the greatest tennis players in the history of the game. Between 1960 and 1975, she won a record 62 Grand Slam titles – 24 singles, 19 women’s doubles and 19 mixed doubles. In 1970, she became only the second female player to win all four Grand Slam singles titles in a year. Maureen Connolly in 1953 and Steffi Graf in 1988 are the only other women to have achieved this. During her tennis career she was ranked number one in the world seven times.
She is one of only three players to have achieved a career ‘box set’ of Grand Slam titles, i.e. winning every possible Grand Slam title – singles, doubles and mixed doubles – at all four of the Grand Slam events. The others are Doris Hart and Martina Navratilova.
Court grew up in Albury on the border of New South Wales and Victoria and began playing tennis at the age of eight. As a teenager she went to Melbourne to develop her tennis career under the guidance of another Australian tennis great, Frank Sedgman, and trainer Stan Nicholes.
In 1960 at just 17 years of age she won her first of seven straight singles titles at the Australian Championships. She defeated Jan Lehane in the first four years from 1960 to 1963. She defeated Lesley Turner (Bowrey) in 1964, Maria Bueno in 1965, and Nancy Richey in 1966 in a walk over. In the Open era, she defeated Billie Jean King in 1969, Kerry Reid in 1970, and Evonne Goolagong (Cawley) in 1971 and 1973. Court also won the Australian doubles title eight times, in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1973.
Court won five French singles titles beginning in 1962 where she defeated Turner. In 1964 she defeated Maria Bueno, then in the Open era, she defeated Ann Haydon-Jones in 1969, Helga Niessen in 1970, and Chris Evert in 1973. She also won the doubles from 1964 to 1966 and again in 1973.
Court was never seeded lower than two at Wimbledon and she became the first Australian woman to win the title in 1963 by defeating Billie Jean King 6-3 6-4. She went on to win two more, defeating Maria Bueno in 1965 and Billie Jean King in a marathon 14-12 11-9 in 1970. She also won the doubles title in 1964 and 1969.
In the United States her record was again outstanding, winning the singles title five times. She defeated Darlene Hard in 1962 and Billie Jean King in 1965. In the Open era she defeated Nancy Richey in 1969, Rosie Casals in 1970, and Goolagong in 1973. She also won the doubles title in 1963, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973 and 1975.
Representing her country in Federation Cup from 1963 to 1971, she won all of her 20 singles matches, 15 of 20 doubles matches, and was a member of four winning Federation Cup teams, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1971.
Court was ordained a minister and founded the Margaret Court Ministries in 1991. The Victory Life Centre (Perth) was established in 1995, and is now linked to 25 churches in Australia.
In 1967, Court became a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to sport and international relations. In 2007, Court was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to tennis as a player, as a mentor to junior female elite competitors and through professional development programs; and to the communities of Australia and Sri Lanka as the initiator of a range of pastoral care, social support and emergency accommodation projects. In 2021 Court was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to tennis as an internationally acclaimed player and record holder and grand slam champion, and as a mentor of young sportspersons.
In 1979, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island, USA, and in 1993, Rod Laver and Court became the inaugural players inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.
On the eve of the 2003 Australian Open Tennis Championship, Melbourne Park’s Show Court One was officially re-named Margaret Court Arena as a tribute to her outstanding career.
In 2006, Court was recognised by the International Tennis Federation for her outstanding tennis achievements. She was presented with the Phillipe Chatrier award at the ITF’s world champions dinner in Paris during the French Open. She is only the 11th recipient of the award.