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Women’s tennis is different from men’s tennis in a way that more short female players can compete and achieve bigger results.
When we see the currently most successful men’s tennis players, which are the Big 3: Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic. They all share the same size range of (6 ft 1 in) to (6 ft 2 in).
On the women’s side, many female pros made it to the very top while being shorter than the average height of WTA tennis which is around 5’4″.
Nevertheless, there are exceptions of players that are considerably short, but so talented and skilled that they’ve overcome the size limitations and set themselves among the very best.
These are the Top 10 shortest women’s tennis pros who have been successful in their careers.
To make this list, we considered the two criteria below:
- She won at least one title in her career (singles or doubles)
- She had a career high ranking inside the Top 100
|Player||Country||US size||EU size|
|1. Nuria Llagostera Vives||Spain||5’1″||1.55m|
|2. Anna Smashnova||Israel||5’2″||1.57m|
|3. Lauren Davis||United States||5’2″||1.57m|
|4. Amanda Coetzer||South Africa||5’2″||1.58m|
|5. Rosemary Casals||United States||5’3″||1.59m|
|6. Misaki Doi||Japan||5’3″||1.59m|
|7. Dominika Cibulková||Slovakia||5’3″||1.60m|
|8. Jill Craybas||United States||5’3″||1.60m|
|9. Carla Suárez Navarro||Spain||5’4″||1.62m|
|10. Yulia Putintseva||Kazakhstan||5’4″||1.63m|
What Short Women’s Tennis Players Are the Most Successful?
We will take the previous list of the Top 10 shortest female tennis players and figure out the most successful ones out of this list.
What Short Female Tennis Players Have the Highest Career Ranking?
|Player||Country||US size||EU size||Highest ATP Ranking|
|Amanda Coetzer||South Africa||5’2″||1.58m||3|
|Rosemary Casals||United States||5’3″||1.59m||3|
Amanda is a South African tennis player who was inside the WTA Top 20 for ten consecutive years between 1992 and 2001.
She was able to be a dominant force in female tennis even with her short size. Amanda Coetzer has the reputation of scoring multiple upsets against higher-ranked players in her time, to gain the nickname of “Little Assassin”.
Her career was fruitful with 9 singles titles and 9 doubles titles. She also reached the no. 3 spot after 3 Grand Slam semi-final exits.
Amanda was the pride of the South African people.
Rosemary earned her reputation of being a rebel in tennis during the 60’s.
“I wanted to be someone,” Casals was quoted as saying in Alida M. Thacher’s Raising a Racket: Rosie Casals. “I knew I was good, and winning tournaments — it’s a kind of way of being accepted.”
She faced many roadblocks due to her size and her poor background because tennis was perceived back then as a rich sport. She also hated to play with white only and loved to wear colors on the courts.
Rosemary won 9 Grand Slams titles in doubles and 3 in mixed doubles. In addition, she ended her career with 90 titles, a career-high ranking of no.3 in the World in 1970, and $1.4 million in prize money, which is huge for her time.
Dominica is a Slovakian tennis player who made her way to fame in the early 2010s. Even with her 5’3” size, she competed at a very high level, winning 8 singles titles including the WTA finals win in 2016.
Cibulkova also made the final in the Australian Open 2014 and claimed the World no. 4 place in 2017.
With all the struggles caused by injuries and her short size, which were holdbacks for bigger achievements, she managed to have a superb career accumulating more than $13 million in prize money.
What Short Female Tennis Players Have Won the Most Titles?
|Player||Country||US size||EU size||Singles Titles||Doubles Titles||Grand Slams|
|Rosemary Casals||United States||5’3″||1.59m||11||112||0|
|Amanda Coetzer||South Africa||5’2″||1.58m||9||9||0|
She was a fierce female player in the 70s with a rich game and a poor background. Along with the great Billie Jean King and other top players, she won 11 Grand Slams in doubles.
At the end of her career, she had 11 singles titles and 112 doubles titles including 11 Grand Slams.
Anna is a Soviet-born Israeli former tennis player. She may not be famous to the new generations, but she was very successful for a 5’2” tennis woman.
What makes her career special is her amazing 12-1 record in WTA tournaments finals. She was practically unbeatable in finals, which testifies superb mental strength.
In doubles, she didn’t shine as much as in singles. However, Anna was always close to the top of the game and she managed to claim the World no. 15 spot in 2003.
The Little Assassin played some amazing games against top players like Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, or Monica Seles.
She had a good record in tournament finals with 9 wins and 12 losses, which is very impressive with a short player like her.
In doubles, she has 9 wins and 14 losses in tournaments finals.
Unfortunately, Amanda has never been able to win a Grand Slam in her career. Her biggest achievement was the semi-final in the Australian Open and the French Open.
What Short Female Tennis Players Have Won the Most Prize Money?
Before this ranking, we must consider the fact that tennis pays a lot more over the years. For example:
- the US Open 1990 prize money for the winner was $350,000.
- In 2000, it was $800,000 for the winner.
- In 2010, it was $1.7 million for the winner.
- And in 2021, the winner took home $2.5 million before taxes.
This is a 714% increase in prize money in just 30 years! And pretty much the same happened to Masters 1000, ATP500, and ATP250 tournaments. Tennis has become very lucrative over the years.
This is just to say that this ranking is relatively biased, but let’s just stick with the official numbers.
|Player||Country||US size||EU size||Prize Money|
|Carla Suárez Navarro||Spain||5’4″||1.62m||$11,920,116|
|Amanda Coetzer||South Africa||5’2″||1.58m||$5,594,821|
Both Dominika Cibulková and Carla Suárez Navarro played in the most recent years where tennis paid a whole lot more than in the ’80s or ’90s.
This explained why they achieved significantly higher prize money than other short players.
Gem Hoahing, One of the Shortest Ever?
According to Guinness World Records, British player Gem Hoahing is the shortest female tennis player ever to play at the Wimbledon Championships.
She measured 4”9.5’ (1.46m) when she played the 1937 championships.
Modern-day’s mantra of bigger is better wasn’t a thing back in the 30s and 40s, when Gem Hoahing from the UK proved that size doesn’t matter in tennis.
She was nicknamed “Little Gem”, “Little Poker Face” and also “The Mighty Atom” as she was popular among British crowds.
Her biggest achievement at Wimby is the 4th round. In addition, she won 4 singles titles.
After retirement, she helped in charity work and opened a flower shop near Kensington Gardens.
She continued playing tennis in charity events in her 80’s before she died in 2015.
Great Short Female Tennis Players
It is relatively hard to make a big impact on tennis with a height below 5’4”.
But some players have achieved far superior wins and records while being considered relatively short for the average tennis woman.
|Player||Country||US size||EU size||Highest Ranking||Singles Titles||Doubles Titles||Singles Grand Slams||Prize Money|
|Chris Evert||United States||5’6″||1.68m||1||157||32||18||$8,895,195|
|Billie Jean King*||United States||5’5″||1.64cm||1||129||87||12||$1,966,487*|
All these players with a significant short height managed to claim the World no. 1 position in the rankings and stayed there quite long. They also won multiple Grand Slam titles.
- American Chris Evert is a legend of the game and one of the most successful with 18 singles Grand Slam titles.
- Belgian Justin Henin-Hardenne is probably the most skillful and entertaining woman tennis player ever. She had a single handed backhand and played a variety of shots that made her stand out of the competition and to be the second most successful player in Serena Williams era.
- Australian Ashleigh Barty and Romanian Simona Halep are two current powerhouses of female tennis, and they stayed in the top of the ranking for a long time. It is impressive when you compare them with tall rivals like Pliskova (6’1”), Azarenka (6’0”), Muguruza (6’0”), or Naomi Osaka (5’11”).
- Finally, Billie Jean King needs no introduction. She was named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by LIFE magazine. Billie was a tennis champion with multiple titles, who defeated Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes in 1973, to develop respect and recognition for female athletes.
To Sum It Up
|Player||Country||US size||EU size||Highest ATP Ranking||Singles Titles||Doubles Titles||Singles Grand Slams||Prize Money|
|Nuria Llagostera Vives||Spain||5’1″||1.55m||35||2||16||0||$2,636,375|
|Amanda Coetzer||South Africa||5’2″||1.58m||3||9||9||0||$5,594,821|
|Lauren Davis||United States||5’2″||1.57m||26||1||0||0||$3,732,157|
|Jill Craybas||United States||5’3″||1.60m||39||5||6||0||$2,552,154|
|Rosemary Casals||United States||5’3″||1.59m||3||90||3||0||$1,362,222|
|Carla Suárez Navarro||Spain||5’4″||1.62m||6||2||3||0||$11,920,116|
The table summarizes the shortest female tennis players to rank in the Top 100 and to win at least one official title.
Notice how none of the players mentioned could win a singles Grand Slam title.
This is not the case for the shortest male tennis players, where we can find some legends of the game like Rod Laver or Michael Chang who managed to overcome the size limitation and win big titles.