Emma Raducanu joins an illustrious list of teen Slam winners

Emma Raducanu
Emma Raducanu made her tour-level debut in June 2021 at WTA Nottingham

British teenager Emma Raducanu rewrote the history books when she won her maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open.

The 18-year-old new British number one, who has risen to 23 in the world rankings, joins an illustrious list of some of the best-known names in tennis, who hit the big time when they won their first major title while still a teenager.

Martina Hingis
Martina Hingis is the youngest female Slam champion in the Open era

Martina Hingis – 16 years, 117 days (Australian Open, 1997)

The ‘Swiss Miss’ is still the youngest female Slam champion, winning the 1997 Australian Open by beating Mary Pierce. She went on to win five Slams in total and was in the final of the French Open twice.

Hingis first retired in 2003 after two ankle surgeries and finally admitted the pain had become too much. She returned to competition in non-tour events in 2005 before announcing her comeback to the WTA tour a year later.

In 2007, Hingis was investigated for testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine and was suspended by the ITF for two years,

She made a third return to the sport in 2015, focusing more on doubles, winning four Slam titles in women’s doubles and six mixed doubles titles before retiring for a final time in 2017.

Monica Seles – 16 years, 189 days (French Open 1990)

Seles won eight of her nine Slams representing Yugoslavia, before winning her final major, the Australian Open in 1996 for the United States.

She won eight titles before she turned 20, but, in 1993, she was the victim of an on-court knife attack. Seles returned to the tour in 1995 and won another major, but struggled to find her best form. She played her last official tour match at the 2003 French Open, but only confirmed retirement five years later.

Tracey Austin – 16 years, 270 days (US Open, 1979)

Austin remains the youngest US Open champion in history and added another in 1981 for a career two singles Slam titles.

The American struggled with injuries after that and was often sidelined for long periods.

Austin attempted a comeback in 1988 but had a near-fatal road accident a year later. She attempted another return in 1993, but finally retired the following year.

Maria Sharapova – 17 years, 75 days (Wimbledon, 2004)

A long-time nemesis of Serena Williams, having beaten her at Wimbledon 17 years ago to claim her maiden trophy.

Sharapova went on to win a total of five Slam titles, including two French Open championships on a surface she famously described herself as being a ‘cow on ice’.

The Russian first became world number one in 2005, but retired in 2020 after lingering shoulder injuries.

She also served a 15-month suspension from the sport after failing a drugs test after the 2016 Australian Open, for use of meldonium, which was usually prescribed for heart conditions and had been put on the WADA banned substance list at the start of the year.

Arantxa Sanchez Vicario – 17 years, 174 days (French Open, 1989)

Having followed older brothers Emilio and Javier Sanchez into the sport, the Spaniard upset Steffi Graf to make history at the time with her French Open victory.

Two more Paris triumphs followed – including her last Slam in 1998 – and a US Open success in 1994, while Sanchez Vicario was runner-up twice in the Australian Open and Wimbledon. She also claimed six women’s doubles and four mixed doubles titles before retiring in 2002.

Two years later, Sanchez Vicario returned to play in the 2004 Olympics – her fifth appearance in the Games, from which she has two silver and bronze medals.

Boris Becker – 17 years, 228 days (Wimbledon, 1985)

At the time the dynamic German won his first Wimbledon title he was the youngest male player to win a Slam.

Becker was also unseeded when he started his run, although he was ranked number 20 in the ATP rankings as seedings only went up to 16 back then.

He went on to win Wimbledon twice more, with two Australian Open titles and the 1989 US Open.

Becker is now a regular commentator during Wimbledon and was named head of men’s tennis for the German Tennis Federation in 2017.

Mats Wilander – 17 years, 293 days (French Open, 1982)

The Swede made his mark when he won the French Open as an unseeded player, defeating Guillermo Vilas.

By the age of 20, Wilander had four Slam titles, winning two more at Roland Garros in 1985 and 1988 and adding the US Open and three Australian Opens to his career haul.

Wimbledon was the only major single’s trophy to elude him, but Wilander did win the men’s doubles in SW19 with compatriot Joakim Nystrom in 1986.

A former world number one and three-time Davis Cup winner with Sweden, he was handed a three-month suspension by the ITF, having tested positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open, and retired a year later.

Serena Williams – 17 years, 350 days (US Open, 1999)

Still active and still chasing the elusive 24th Slam title which would draw her level with Margaret Court, Williams has seen her attempts in recent years thwarted – and did not compete in this year’s tournament.

She won the US Open in her first final, beating fellow then-teenager Hingis.

She first became a world number one in 2002, but has been troubled with injuries recently. Her last Slam title came in 2017, winning the Australian Open.

Steffi Graf – 17 years, 357 days (French Open, 1987)

Graf’s arrival on the scene was in the years of Martina Navratilova’s dominance, and the German teenager beat the then-world number one for a first French Open success.

She won a ‘Golden Slam’ of all four majors and Olympic gold in 1988 in Seoul and Graf won 22 major singles titles in her career.

Following back and knee injuries, Graf announced her retirement at the age of 30 in 1999, and when she was still ranked world number three at the time.

Bjorn Borg – 18 years, 10 days (French Open, 1974)

Borg’s breakthrough as a teenage sensation in the mid-1970s helped propel tennis into the public consciousness.

The Swede most famously graced the lawns of Wimbledon, becoming the first male player to be in six successive finals – surpassed by Roger Federer from 2003-2009 – and forever remembered for the epic 1980 showpiece against John McEnroe.

Bjorg won 11 Slams – six French and five at Wimbledon – and his initial retirement at the age of 26 in 1983 was a shock to the tennis world.

He attempted a comeback between 1991-1993, but failed to win a set in the first two years.

He did slightly better in the three matches he played in 1993, at least winning a set, but lost all three matches.

Rafael Nadal – 19 years, 3 days (French Open, 2005)

Rafael Nadal is the only member of the ‘Big Three’ comprising himself, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, to win his first Slam title as a teenager. He claimed the first of an unprecedented 13 at the French Open, together with seven at other majors.

Nadal, now 35, has struggled with injury throughout his career, calling time on his 2021 season due to a recurring left-foot problem that first caused issues in his French Open loss in the semi-finals.

Michael Chang
Michael Chang is the youngest male Slam winner, but despite making two more finals, never won another one.

Teenagers who also won Slams

The most notable to win only one is the youngest male Slam champion Michael Chang, who won the French Open in 1989 against Stefan Edberg, aged 17 years and 110 days.

Despite reaching a world ranking of number two in the world and a total of 34 career titles, the American was unable to get over the line in the Australian Open and US Open finals in 1996.

Pete Sampras, aged 19 years and 29 days, landed the 1990 US Open with victory over Andre Agassi. It was the first of the American’s 14 career majors, which included seven at Wimbledon.

Aged 19 years and 324 days, success in the 1985 Australian Open final against fellow Swede Mats Wilander, wasthe first of Stefan Edberg’s six career Slams.

On the women’s side, Hana Mandlikova became the second-youngest female player to win a Grand Slam at the time when she beat Australian Wendy Turnbull in the 1980 Australian Open final. The Prague-born player, who was then aged 18 years and 329 days, would win three more Slams in her career before retiring a decade later.

Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova won two Slams in her career, the first in the US Open, aged 19 years and 76 days, when she beat compatriot Elena Dementieva. The 36-year-old also landed the 2009 French Open.

Bianca Andreescu stunned Serena Williams at the US Open in 2019, aged 19 years and 83 days, but has been plagued with injuries ever since.

Iga Swiatek won the 2020 French Open aged 19 years and 132 days, beating Sofia Kenin, but the Polish player has yet to follow that up.

American Chris Evert claimed the first of her 18 Grand Slams when she beat Olga Morozova in the 1974 French Open final at the age of 19 years and 176 days.

Iva Majoli upset Martina Hingis to win her only Slam title in the 1997 French Open aged 19 years and 299 days, ending Hingis’ 37-match winning streak and handing the Swiss her first defeat in a Grand Slam final.

Australia’s Evonne Goolagong, aged 19 years and 309 days, also lifted the French Open in 1971, beating Helen Gourlay for the first of her seven majors.

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