The following is a list of the women who have won the most all-time Grand Slam singles titles in tennis since the Open Era began in 1968. The Open Era began when professional tennis players were finally allowed to compete at the Grand Slam events. Prior to the Open Era, only amateurs could compete.
I've been playing tennis since I could hold a racket in my hands over four decades ago. I've been following tennis for almost as long. I've watched all of these great champions at almost all the Grand Slam events they played in.
Women tennis players who have won the most Grand Slam singles titles
1. Steffi Graf - 22
With 22 Grand Slam singles titles, Steffi Graf has won more Grand Slam singles titles than any player, male or female in the Open Era. Graf won seven Wimbledon titles (1988, 1989, 1991-93, 1995, 1996), six French Open titles (1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999), five U.S. Open titles (1988, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996), and four Australian Open titles (1988-90, 1994) in her great career.
In 1988, Steffi Graf won all four singles titles for a true Grand Slam. She also won an Olympic Gold Medal that year, too, for the so-called Golden Slam.
T-2. Chris Evert - 18
With 18 Grand Slam singles titles, Chris Evert is tied for the second most in tennis history in the Open Era. Chris Evert holds the records for most singles for women at both the French Open (seven - 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986) and the U.S. Open (six - 1975-78, 1980, 1982) in the Open Era. She also won Wimbledon three times (1974, 1976, 1981) and the Australian Open twice (1982, 1984).
Chris Evert only played in the Australian Open six times in her career, and she reached the finals at the Australian Open all six times. Had she played down under her whole career (she mainly played there past her prime years), Chris Evert would likely have won well over 20 singles titles in her career.
T-2 Martina Navratilova - 18
Martina Navratilova is tied with Chris Evert with 18 Grand Slam singles titles. Martina won Wimbledon a record nine times (1978, 1979, 1982-87, 1990). That's the most of any player, male or female in tennis history.
Martina Navratilova also won the U.S. Open four times (1983, 1984, 1986, 1987), the Australian Open three times (1981, 1983, 1985), and the French Open twice (1982, 1984).
T-2. Serena Williams - 18
Serena Williams currently has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles. Serena has five wins at the Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), six wins at the U.S. Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-14), five wins at Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012), and two wins at the French Open (2002, 2013).
How many more Grand Slam singles titles can Serena Williams win? Serena will be 33 years old on September 26, 2014. Steffi Graf was 29 years old when she won her last Grand Slam singles title, while Chris Evert was 31, and Martina Navratilova was 33.
5. Margaret Court - 11
Overall, Margaret Court won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, but only 11 during the Open Era. Court won four Australian Open titles (1969-71, 1973), three U.S. Open titles (1969, 1970, 1973), three French Open titles (1969, 1970, 1973), and one Wimbledon title (1970) during the Open Era.
Overall, including before the Open Era, Margaret Court won 11 Australian Opens, five U.S. Opens, five French Opens, and three Wimbledon titles, for a total of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. In 1970, Margaret Court won all four Grand Slam singles events in one calendar year, giving her a true Grand Slam.
Amazingly, Margaret Court would almost certainly have won even more Grand Slam singles titles but three times in her career she took time off. Leading up to her marriage in 1967, Court took off that year, plus parts of 1966 and 1968 (missing six Grand Slam events).
Margaret Court played in the finals at Wimbledon in 1971 while pregnant with her first child, and then took off the next four Grand Slam tournaments. After winning three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in 1973, Court took off all of 1974 while having her second child. She basically retired after 1975 when pregnant with her third of four children.
6. Monica Seles - 9
Monica Seles won the Australian Open four times (1991-93, 1996), the French Open three times (1991-93) and the U.S. Open twice (1991, 1992). Seles won eight of her Grand Slam titles before April 30, 1993, when she was stabbed in the back during a break between games in a match by mentally-disturbed German Gunter Parche.
Seles was 21 years old at the time of the stabbing. She only won one more Grand Slam title after the attack. Unbelievably, Parche never went to jail over the stabbing. Had the stabbing not occurred, Monica Seles would almost certainly be much higher on this list.