The Australian Open is one of the first four Grand Slam tournaments of the year, played in January. The best hardcourt players tend to dominate in the men’s and women’s singles. Although black tennis players haven’t been dominant in the event, with only a handful of them winning, they’ve always been part of the event.
The rising numbers of black players could lead to more players of color winning it. Keep reading to find out more.
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Arthur Ashe is the only black male tennis player to have won the Australian Open title to date. He achieved this feat in 1970, defeating Dick Crealy in three sets of 6-4, 9-7, 6-2. This was the only Aussie tournament he won.
Before this final victory, he lost the finals in 1966 and 1967 to Roy Emmerson. He returned to the finals in 1971 but Ken Rosewall beat him 6-1, 7-5, 6-3. He made a total of six appearances at the event.
Coco Gauff is one of the black tennis players on tour expected to become one of the best. The American played her first Australian Open tournament in 2020 and was eliminated in the 4th round, which is the furthest she’s reached. In 2023, Gauff played:
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American tennis player Francis Tiafoe has played at Melbourne Park seven times. His first appearance was in 2017, with his best finish being a quarter-final place. He’s been eliminated in the first round in 2018 and 2020, reached the second round thrice and the third round once.
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Mmoh isn’t the most prominent black tennis player but is building his resume on the men’s tour. He’s played in five Australian Open tournaments, with an exit in the first, second and third rounds. The American is yet to win a grand slam title and has reached a career-high ranking of 81.
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Osaka in the U.S Open. Credit: Instagram
The half-Japanese, Haitian tennis player is the only other black tennis player in the women’s singles to have won the women’s Australian Open. Naomi Osaka has won two titles.
Her first came in 2019 when she beat Petra Kvitova in three sets of 7-6(2) 5-7 6-4, and the second in 2021 when she won in straight sets against Jennifer Brady. These were the only times Osaka reached the final in the tournament.
The former tennis player is one of the black tennis players to have won the Australian Open. Serena Williams won seven titles during her illustrious career, in which she claimed 23 grand slam titles.
Her first Australian Open came in 2003 after defeating her sister Venus Williams in three sets: 7-6, 3-6, and 6-4. Two years after her first, she played highly ranked Lindsay Davenport and won in three sets (2-6 6-3 6-0).
Williams didn’t make it to the finals in 2006 but returned in 2007 against former player Maria Sharapova and won her third title. In 2009 and 2010, Williams won back-to-back titles, after which she went on a four-year drought.
She regained the Australian Open title in 2015 against Sharapova and won her last title in 2017 against her sister. Even though she’s retired, Serena is the most successful female player at the tournament.
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Venus Williams at Wimbledon title. Credit: Instagram
The Australian Open is the only grand slam that’s eluded Venus Williams. She has competed in the event since her first competition in 1998, missing on five occasions.
Her best finish was reaching the finals in 2003 and 2017 but lost to her sister Serena on both occasions. 2021 was her final appearance, having withdrawn from the event in 2022 and 2023 due to injury.
These are the black tennis players who’ve been at the Australian Open event and you should expect to see some compete in the coming years. Who do you think will win the tournament?
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