All throughout the Open Era, Russian female tennis players have consistently occupied top-ranking positions and especially so during the 2000s. But in that same breath, there is a distinct lack of any legendary highly accomplished woman in the sport during the Amateur Era.
As you will notice, most of the members of this list are in no way old, with many having played tennis simultaneously around the same time period. Without further ado, we present you with the 11 greatest Russian female tennis players of all time.
|Birthdate||19 April 1987|
|Highest Ranking||No. 1|
|Titles won||39 Titles5 Grand Slams1 Olympic Silver1 Fed Cup|
Maria Yuryezna Sharapova is by far the most accomplished and well-known Russian female player in history. The former world no.1 has held the top position 5 times and is a 5-time Grand Slam champion with the most major titles than any Russian female.
|Maria Sharapova Among Top Female Tennis Players of all Time|
Maria is even one of the only 10 women to have completed the highly acclaimed career Grand Slam, thus it’s no surprise that many consider her to be one of the greatest female tennis players of all time. Her 39 WTA titles are a Russian female record and she was the first Russian woman to be ranked no. 1 when she was 18. Apart from her 5 Grand Slam win, she also reached 5 quarter-finals, 10 semi-finals, and 5 finals.
Maria has qualified for multiple Tour Finals and in 2004 she won her only Tour Finals title, upsetting Serena Williams at the Finals. Then at the 2012 London Olympics, she became runner-up in the women’s singles category, winning Russia the silver medal. In other team competitions like the Federation Cup (modern-day Billie Jean Cup), Maria had an impressive win record and led her team to win the Cup in 2004. She formally retired in 2020.
Apart from her tennis career, she is also a model, television personality, and entrepreneur. Being the highest-paid female athlete for 11 consecutive years, she has successfully managed to break into mainstream media and business.
|Birthdate||27 June 1985|
|Highest Ranking||No. 2 (singles)No. 3 (doubles)|
|Titles won||34 Titles4 Grand Slams3 Fed Cups|
Svetlana Aleksandrovna Kuznetsova is the first of the 3 top 2 players on this list. She has the second-highest number of titles and after her win at the 2004 US Open, she became the third Russian female to win a major singles title.
A testament to their skill and proficiency on the court would be her impressive ranking, having once been ranked in the top 5 for both singles and doubles. She even holds 4 Open Era records, 3 of which are related to the longest second-longest matches played by time. In total, Svetlana won 2 singles and 2 doubles Grand Slam titles but she has appeared in 2 singles finals and 11 quarter-finals.
She has reached the finals in all the doubles Grand Slam events at least once as well. At the Tour Finals, Svetlana has qualified 3 times, twice in the doubles category for 2003 and 2004, and once in singles for the 2016 event. She reached the semi-finals at all three events. As for the Federation Cup, she was part of the Russian team in 2004, 2007, and 2008 when Russia won the Cup.
Svetlana is also an Olympic athlete but never won a medal. Of the occasions she represented Russia at the Olympics, she reached the quarter-finals thrice, once in the singles event and twice in the doubles. She is actually the first active player on this having played in 3 Grand Slam events in 2021.
|Birthdate||27 April 1986|
|Highest Ranking||No. 1|
|Titles won||21 Titles 1 Grand Slam, 1 Olympic Silver, 1 Fed Cup|
Dinara Mubinonva Safina is the only other Russian woman to have achieved the world no. 1 ranking. This achievement is quite extraordinary considering Dinara never won a major singles title.
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But despite this, she had a successful Grand Slam career. Dinara started playing right before the dawn of the 21st century with a 14-year-long professional career. She peaked during 2008 and 2009, qualifying for the Tour Finals for both years with the latter season’s performance finally winning her the world no. 1 title.
The only and only major title Dinara won came at the 2007 US Open in doubles. In singles, she was runner-up in 3 tournaments, 2 of which were in 2009. As for her doubles Grand Slam performance, Like the women before her, Dinara was also an Olympic medalist, winning silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the same event Elena Dementieva won Gold. In the doubles category of the same Olympics, she reached the quarter-finals.
Overall her doubles performance was also noteworthy with her even reaching a career-high ranking of no. 8 in 2008. In the 2005 Fed Cup, she was part of the Russian team and her victories helped her country win the Cup for the second consecutive time. She retired in 2014 but had been mostly absent from the tour since 2012. Dinara and her older brother Marat were actually the first brother-sister duo to both achieve the world no. 1 ranking.
|Birthdate||8 July 1981|
|Highest Ranking||No. 2|
|Titles won||15 WTA Titles, 6 ITF Titles, 1 Grand Slam, 2 Fed Cup|
In many ways, Anastasia Andreyevna Myskina set the standard for what tennis for women could be in Russia. She was the first ever Russian female to win a major singles title and the first to be ranked in the top 3 in history.
Her victory over compatriot Elena Dementieva for the 2004 US Open title is easily the greatest achievement of her career. Though she had a rather short career, Anastasia has reached the quarter at all 4 Grand Slam events at least once and won 2 Tier I (modern-day WTA1000) tour events. Since 2002, she has ranked in the top 10 and qualified for 3 Tour Finals with her best performance seen at the 2004 WTA Championships when she reached the semi-finals. At the 2004 Olympics, she got the 4th position in the semi-finals. Then at the Fed Cup that same year, she helped Russia win the Cup.
Thus it’s no wonder 2004 was the best year of her career. But just 3 years later Anastasia would go on an indefinite hiatus after injury. Though her tennis career was rather short, she has instrumentally influenced woman’s tennis in Russia and her skill on the court is undeniable. Her numerous victories over top-ranking players like Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, Venus Williams, Martina Hingis, and many more are proof of that.
|Birthdate||7 September 1984|
|Highest Ranking||No. 2 (singles)No. 9 (doubles)|
|Titles won||24 Titles, 5 Grand Slams, 1 Olympic Bronze, 2 Fed Cups|
Vera Igorevna Zvonareva is the third player on this list to have held the world no. 2 ranking. Like Svetlana Kuznetsova behind her, Vera is an exceptional player in both singles and doubles events and her ranking reflects that fact.
She is an active player and over 2 decades into her career, she has retained her form from her youth. At the height of her career, she was ranked no. 2 despite the fact she never won a singles major title. All 5 of her Grand Slam titles were from doubles events, 3 from normal doubles, and 2 from mixed.
As for her Grand Slam singles performance, she has reached at least the quarter-finals at all the events. 2010 is by far her most successful singles performance, she was runner-up at the US Open and Wimbledon. That season got her the world no. 2 ranking. Vera has also qualified for 5 Tour Finals with 4 being for consecutive years. Of these 5 occasions, she reached 2 consecutive semi-finals and was runner-up at the 2008 WTA Championships.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she won the Bronze medal under Dinara Safina’s Silver. As for other team competitions like the Federation Cup, she participated for many years and was part of the 2004 and 2008 teams that went on to win the Cup. She easily has the most doubles major titles of any Russian woman and is tied for most overall major titles with Maria Sharapova. Even recently, in 2020, she is still going strong having won her third doubles title at the US Open.
|Birthdate||22 February 1947|
|Highest Ranking||No. 3|
|Titles won||24 WTA Titles, 51 ITF Titles, 1 Grand Slam, 3 S.U Golds|
Olga Vasilyevna Morozova is commonly referred to as the Godmother of Tennis in Russia. She is an immensely important person in the history of tennis in the Soviet Union and later, Russia. Her many accolades and contributions to her sport helped popularize tennis in the country, inspiring thousands of players that came after her. She played during the Ametuer Era, shortly before the dawn of the Open Era.
Thus, Olga contested and played beside tennis titans from what can be described as the Golden Era for women’s tennis. Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Virginia Wade, Billy Jean King, and many others were upset by Olga during her career. Teamed with Chris Evert, she won her only major title at the 1974 French Championships, making tennis history as the first Soviet player, man or woman, to win a major title.
That same year she was also runner-up at 2 singles Grand Slam events. She subsequently became the first Soviet player to reach the finals of a major event. But a year before that, at the 1973 Moscow Summer Universiade, she won Gold in all 3 tennis categories. Her mixed doubles and singles performance was also noteworthy, reaching at least in all 4 events.
After her first retirement, she coached the Soviet team to their first appearance at the Federation Cup. Olga was also instrumental in creating the Russian Kremlin Cup. She has coached some notable people like Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova, both members of this list.
|Birthdate||15 October 1981|
|Highest Ranking||No. 3 (singles)No. 5 (doubles)|
|Titles won||22 Titles, 1 Tour Finals, 1 Olympic Gold, 1 Olympic Silver, 1 Fed Cup|
Elena Viacheslavovna Dementieva is considered to be one of the greatest players to have never won a Grand Slam. She had a short career, retiring during her prime. Elena had a very consistent performance throughout her career.
From 2003 to 2010, excluding 2007, she ranked in the top 10. By 2010, right before she retired, she had also qualified for her 10 WTA Tour Finals, the first 7 of which were consecutive. She even won a WTA Championship (Tour Finals) in doubles at the 2002 edition. Then at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it was Elena who won the Gold medal in singles.
The 2008 Olympics are especially noteworthy as the Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals were all held by Russian players. But prior to this, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Elena also won the silver medal, losing to Venus Williams in the final. Though she did never win a Grand Slam, she reached at least the semi-finals in all the events including two finals.
In doubles, her best performance was seen at the US Open, becoming runner-up twice. Though her career was cut short and she never won a Grand Slam, Elena had upset top players like Caroline Wozniacki, the Williams sisters, Sania Mirza, Ava Ivanovic, Lindsy Davenport, and many more. Her skill is undeniable and she will always be known as one of the best Russian players.
|Birthdate||7 June 1988|
|Highest Ranking||No. 8 (singles)No. 1 (doubles)|
|Titles won||18 Titles, 4 Grand Slams, 1 Tour Finals, 3 S.U Golds, 1 Olympic Gold, 1 Fed Cup|
Ekaterina Valeryevna Makarova is the most accomplished doubles player on this list. She won 4 Grand Slams, 3 doubles and 1 mixed, and 7 WTA1000 events. Though she only won 3 singles titles, she had a career-high ranking of no. 8. of her Grand Slam wins, she accumulated a major title from different events except for Australia where she became runner-up twice, the most recent of which was in 2018.
Even late into her career, Ekaterina was winning titles like the Gold medal at the 2016 Rio Di Jenaro Summer Olympics for doubles. At the Summer Universiade of 2009 and 2013, she won 3 gold medals as well. Another big accomplishment of hers would be winning at the 2016 WTA Finals.
Ekaterina had been qualifying for the Finals five years in a row and had been a runner-up previous to her win. She almost always paired with Elena Vesnina, another member of this list, and all her doubles Grand Slams were won with her. Besides the 3 doubles wins, she became runner-up 4 times. Her 4th Grand Slam was a mixed doubles victory at the US Open. She was the runner-up at the Australian Open for mixed doubles as well. Her team competition streak continues, however. Ekaterina was part of numerous Fed Cups including the 2008 edition where Russia won. She retired in 2020.
|Birthdate||1 August 1986|
|Highest Ranking||No. 13 (singles)No. 1 (doubles)|
|Titles won||22 Titles, 4 Grand Slams, 1 Olympic Gold, 1 Olympic Silver, 2 S.U Golds, 1 S.U Silver, 1 Tour Finals, 2 Fed Cups|
Elena Sergeyevna Vesnina is the second world no. 1 doubles player on this list. She shares many similarities with Ekaterina Makarova behind her including 4 Grand Slam wins, 1 Olympic Gold, a Tour Finals, and more. As described prior, she actually paired with Ekaterina for 3 of their 4 Grand Slam wins. Her 4th Grand Slam win came at the 2016 Australian Open mixed doubles.
The two also paired together for their Tour Finals so those results are identical. Though she hasn’t played since 2021, she made the finals at Wimbledon in the middle of that year. In total, Elena was runner-up 8 times, reaching 10 quarterfinals, and 5 semi-finals.
Similarly to Elena Dementieva, she never lost form, even after returning from a 2-year hiatus. Elena kept improving in her career with her greater Grand Slam performances being seen in the late 2010s. She defeated many top players like Martina Trevisan, Xu Yifan, Gabriela Dabrowski, Ons Jabeur, and more.
Together with Elena Vesnina, she won the Gold medal at the Rio De Janeiro Summer Olympics and in mixed doubles, she won the silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Elena also won 2 Gold medals and 1 silver medal at the 2013 Summer Universiade. She retired just this year, in 2022 after a long successful career.
|Birthdate||3 July 1991|
|Highest Ranking||No. 11|
|Titles won||19 WTA Titles, 5 ITF Titles, 1 Olympic Gold, 1 S.U Gold, 2 Fed Cups|
Anastasia Sergeyevna Pavlyuchenkova is another active player on this list. She is a three-time junior grand slam champion and a former junior’s number. 1, though she turned professional in 2005 she has yet to win a major title.
In singles she has made the quarter-finals for all 4 grand slam events, with her best career performance being 2021 french open when she became runner-up for the first time in her career, her doubles performance is much the same having reached the quarterfinals in all events. Anastasia’s greatest career accomplishment has to be the Olympic gold medal she won at the Tokyo 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the mixed doubles category.
She also reached the quarter-finals in singles at the 2021 Olympics. Other major career accomplishments of hers include winning 2 WTA1000 events as well as the 2014 Open GDF Suez and the home 2014 Kremlin Cup. Her singles ranking peaked recently in 2021. In other team competitions like the Billy Jean Cup, she was part of the winning Russian party of 2020 and 2021.
Anastasia was also part of the Russian team for the 2013 Summer Universiade and win the Gold in doubles. Though she has mostly been absent in the 2022 season, she is still active, and given her amazing junior achievements and recent Grand Slam accomplishments, she still has much to offer.
|Birthdate||7 May 1997|
|Highest Ranking||No. 8|
|Titles won||7 Titles, 2 Fed Cups|
Daria Kasatkina at just 25 years is the youngest member on this list. She represents the new wave of tennis talent in Russia and is currently the no. 1 Russian player.
Similar to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daria excelled as a junior, winning the 2014 juniors French Open. Daria also won silver at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Girl’s doubles.
She hasn’t yet won a major title but in 2018 she had her best Grand Slam season performance by reaching the quarter-finals at 2 major events; the French Open and Wimbledon. Just this year as well, she made her first semi-finals at the French Open in singles.
Due to her current career-high ranking, she qualified for her first WTA Tour Finals this year but she was couldn’t make it past the Round Robin stage. Her best career accomplishments have to be winning 2 home tournaments, the Kremlin Cup and the St. Petersburgh Trophy. At the Billy Jean Cup, she was part of the 2020 and 2021 teams that won the Cup. She embodies the young talent in Russia and her career seems quite promising.
Most of the members of this list are in their late 30s or early 40s meaning during the 2000s, tennis in Russia was highly competitive. It can be considered the apex of competitive tennis throughout tennis history. Looking to the future, it doesn’t seem like tennis in Russia can ever reach the level it had during the 2000s and 2010s. Daria Kasatkina is the only player on this list who will seemingly have a long successful career in her following years and she is already one of the top players of the new generation. But who knows what the future will hold for Russia?