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Discussion Starter #1
Since the inception of the WITA/WTA and women's tennis in general, we have wonderful, elegant players. I hear the stories of the tenacious "Little Mo'," the wiry Althea Gibson, the wily Maggie DuPont, and the feisty AS-Vicario.

My question, though is based on matches.

To you all, what were the five(5) most important matches in the history of professional womens tennis?

The significance, obviously, will deal in part with social change, but were there other issues that were almost as important? Financially? Technologically? Fashion-wise?

I'd appreciate you all's discussion of this. Forgive me if a thread like this has already been posted/discussed.
 

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Excellent question. My history with tennis only dates back to 1971. I have a fair amount of knowledge of the entire Open era from 1968 forward, but not much before that. There are much better historians of the game who can offer up comments on Lenglen-Wills in the 1920s and maybe others. But here are my five:

1. King vs. Riggs in 1973 -- talk about social change!
2. Seles vs. M. Maleeva in Germany in 1993 -- Changed the history of the game and destinies of players.
3. V. Williams vs. S. Williams in 2001 U.S. Open final -- The match was a clunker, but the pomp, circumstance and two sisters (black at that) facing each other in prime time.
4. (TIE)
Chris Evert def. Mary Ann Eisel in the 2R of the 1971 U.S. Open -- Evert saved six match points on national TV and became our Chrissie -- She gave women's tennis its first real pizzazz and started the 70s Tennis Boom that transcended the game into an international success.
Billi Jean King def. Chris Evert in the SFs of the 1971 U.S. Open -- Had King lost to the 16-year-old, it may or may not have had serious ramifications for the women's game. I'm not sure what the outcome would have been, but it was a match King needed to win.

5. Chris Evert def. Martina Navratilova in the final of the 1985 French Open -- In my mind, '85 was Evert's last truly great year. This match rescued the greatest rivalry in sports and transcended tennis.

My choices may very well be a product of my age ... and they're made without giving huge amounts of thought to it. But honestly, I can't think of too many post-1993 matches that grab my attention. I do believe the Graf-Hingis French match pretty much put the nail in the coffin on Hingis's career and ushered in the power age; The Serena slam was pretty significant, but at that point, Serena was so dominant you couldn't imagine her losing. Henin's reign was short and unremarkable because she dominated on the biggest stages, for the most part! Graf's golden slam was great, but seemingly routine. It will be interesting to see others' thoughts, as that might make me rethink my selections.
 

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King vs Riggs a a big match - but not really a pro women's tour match, so..
In chrono order:

1970 Wimbledon final - Court vs King - Court's toughest match in winning the 1970 Grand Slam
1970 Houston final - Rosie Casals d Judy Dalton 57 61 75 - first ever Virginia Slims women's tournament
1985 Wimbledon final - Chris and Martina ranked equal #1 - Martina wins 46 63 62
1988 Olympic final - Graf taking out the Golden Slam
1999 French final - Graf v Hingis - all that drama

Plenty from before the late 60s, but these weren't professional, so...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all so much for indulging me. Rollo, you asked me to post mine. Because of the lack of time, I can only post one:

Louise Brough def Althea Gibson 6-1,3-6,9-7 USLTA(US Open) 1950

It may be odd that I chose a defeat for the pioneer,Gibson, as one of the five most important matches; however, I think it's more important than her 1st rd.,6-2, 6-2, win over Barbara Knapp.
Gibson's appearance alone signified the openings of doors for all races, and it also meant that all races and the best athletes in the world could truly compete in a sport.

However, Brough a three-time Wimbledon champion was considered one of the best in the world @ the time. Gibson's play in the match proved that her first rd. win was not simply a novelty but that all people were able to do well with equal opportunity.

A particular sentence stands out to me from the great Alice Marble's editorial to American Lawn Tennis as Marble fought for Althea's right to be accepted into the tournament:
"If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it's also time we acted a little more like gentlepeople and less like sanctimonious hypocrites."
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If you all can indulge me even more, I just recently realized that, in the 1950s, women didn't get paid to play tennis. Technically, the Gibson/Brough match wouldn't qualify as an appropriate response to my original query. I'm not a person who has ever let common sense and the fear of inconsistency get in the way of a good discussion, though, so here's my next one:

Suzanne Lenglen def Dorothea Douglass Chambers Final(1919) Wimbledon, 10-8, 4–6, 9–7.

Played before a crowd of 8,000 fans, this match could probably be recognized as one of the better Wimbledon finals(Lenglen saved two match points); however, Lenglen's "style" was just as important as her tennis skills.

Astonishing tennis diehards(especially the Brits) for taking sips of brandy between sets, Lenglen's tennis dress exposed her forearms and her calves. Regardless of where we stand on discussions of womens tennis attire, Lenglen was the first female tennis star.

Only living to the age of 39(pernicious anemia), Lenglen's public mood swings, neurotic father, and daring dress made her a media draw that women tennis players like Serena and Venus Williams could only envy.

The Wimbledon final win against Chambers introduced Lenglen to the world, and more importantly, introduced the world to Suzanne Lenglen.
 

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Very quickly my 5 would be:

1929 Wimbledon Final Lenglen b Lambert-Chambers (the birthing of perhaps the greatest sensation to ever play the game in an epic encounter against the reigning champion)
1970 Wimbledon Final Court b King (IMO one of the all time great matches and takes on greater status when you realise it was a pivotal part of Court's calendar Grand Slam)
1973 Battle of The Sexes King b Riggs (not a WTA match but nonetheless a match that did in fact help to promote women's lib and give the WTA tour the crediblitity and publicity it deserved
1985 French Open Evert b Navratilova in a stunning match that reinvigorated both Evert's career and injected a lot of excitement back into the women's game
1989 French Open SF Graf b Seles - a new star was born in Seles. Even though she lost, this match signalled the beginning of the power baseline game in all it's glory.
 
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