On Monday, November 3, 1975—exactly 45 years ago to this day—the WTA published its official weekly computerized rankings for the first time, where Chris Evert became the first WTA No. 1.
Evert had already been the best player in the world for a while, winning four of the last seven majors before that—Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 1974, Roland Garros and the US Open in 1975—so being No. 1 on the first WTA rankings wasn’t as much of an ascent as it was just making it official.
“Before the computer rankings, what they did was rank you at the end of the year, and I was No. 1 in 1974, probably because of the French Open and Wimbledon,” Evert recalled. “When the computer rankings came out it was explained primarily as a basis for getting into tournaments, seedings, cut-offs, but the players already knew who was No. 1 or No. 2. It just legitimized everything on paper.”
Once it was officially hers, Evert barely let go of it. She held it for 138 of the next 140 weeks and 260 career weeks overall, with her final week as No. 1 coming more than a decade later in November 1985.
“The computer rankings were always a gentle reminder of being No. 1, but I tried not to dwell on it that much, because I didn’t want to stray away from the task at hand, which was to win tournaments. People were gunning for me, and I knew it could be taken away from me as quickly as I got it. But while you have more pressure when you’re No. 1, you also have more confidence. You believe in yourself more. I felt like it gave me inspiration to keep holding onto it, and keep trying to get better.
“Also, being a top junior helped. It felt natural for me, like it probably did for other players like Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, who were also top juniors. It wasn’t different, it just felt natural.”
Evert is one of 27 women to have reached the top spot now, but one of only four to have held it for more than 250 weeks, alongside Graf (377), Martina Navratilova (332) and Serena Williams (319).
As natural as it felt for some of the greats, being No. 1 is obviously a huge achievement. Up-and-coming players will often list winning Grand Slams and becoming No. 1 as their two biggest dreams.
Evert looks back at her time as No. 1 with gratitude and satisfaction.
“It gave me pride, a sense of accomplishment, confidence—it was a really nice feeling. That’s where you want to be. Anybody would love to become No. 1, and it’s a goal that very few people achieve.
“But it can be easily taken away if you relax—you have to hunker down, work harder and not let up.”
Evert went on to win an incredible 18 Grand Slam titles: two Australian Opens, seven French Opens, three Wimbledons and six US Opens. She’s tied with Navratilova for fourth-most majors for a woman in the Open Era, trailing only Margaret Court, Serena and Graf, who have 24, 23 and 22.
But back to the anniversary at hand with one last piece of nostalgia—the WTA’s first Top 10 list.
The WTA’s Top 10 the week of November 3, 1975:
1. Chris Evert
2. Virginia Wade
3. Martina Navratilova
4. Billie Jean King
5. Evonne Goolagong
6. Margaret Court
7. Olga Morozova
8. Nancy Richey
9. Francoise Durr
10. Kerry Melville Reid