Tennis has been transformed over the last five decades by TV, money, technology, equipment, fashion and politics. But through all of that, the players have remained at the heart of the game. As part of our golden anniversary celebration of the Open era, Tennis.com presents its list of 50 best players—the Top 25 men and the Top 25 women—of the last 50 years. You'll be able to view the entire list in the March/April issue of TENNIS Magazine.
(Note: Only singles results were considered; any player who won a major title during the Open era had his or her entire career evaluated; all statistics are through the 2018 Australian Open.)
Years played: 2007–
Major titles: 1 (2018 Australian Open)
“Adding a Grand Slam to my CV is what caps it off,” a grinning Wozniacki said after she won the 2018 Australian Open. “And really, I think, shows my career as a whole.”
Wozniacki isn’t last on our list, but she was a last-minute entry. While her accomplishments before this season had been impressive—none more so than the 67 weeks she spent at No. 1 in 2010 and 2011, and her 587 wins—the fact that she hadn’t won a major title was enough to keep her out of the running. But as Wozniacki herself says, now that she has torn the Grand Slam monkey off her back in Melbourne, it’s easier to appreciate just how good she has been since joining the tour as a 16-year-old in 2007. It’s also possible to imagine, now that she’s No. 1 in the world again, how good this sneaky-young 27-year-old could still become.
At first glance, Wozniacki doesn’t appear to do much more than hit the ball over the net and hope that her opponents get nervous and miss—and she has won her share of matches that way. But she’s more than just a wallboard. She’s fast, agile and athletic; few players track more balls down. She’s an underrated tactician; she spreads the court and moves the ball around, while rarely taking any unnecessary risks or beating herself. Most important, she’s a natural competitor who never throws in the towel mentally; if you’re going to beat her, you’re going to have to keep doing it until the final point is over. It’s fitting that on her way to winning her maiden major, Wozniacki would come back from 1-5 down in the third set, and save two points, in the second round.
Wozniacki contemplated retirement in 2016. Now she’s shown what can happen when you never say die.
Defining Moment: Wozniacki trailed Simona Halep 3-4 in the third set of the Australian Open final, and she looked tired. But with her best chance at a Slam in danger of slipping away, she found the corners with her ground strokes, and stole it away with the last three games.
Watch: Wozniacki's 2018 Australian Open championship speech