Steffi Graf remains head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of most weeks spent at No 1 in the WTA Rankings and, in fact, her record is unlikely to be broken in the next decade or so, but there is a new member in the top 10 with Iga Swiatek joining the list recently.
Up until recently, Graf was the overall record holder for most weeks spent at No 1 in both men’s and women’s tennis as her tally of 377 had stood since March 1997, but Novak Djokovic surpassed that milestone in February and he is currently on 389 weeks at No 1 in the ATP Rankings.
But Graf’s ridiculous WTA milestone is safe as it will take someone who starts from scratch seven years and 13 weeks to draw level with the German. Current world No 1 Swiatek could of course play for another decade or so and potentially break that record so you can never say never. Swiatek recently broke into the top 10 as she bumped Caroline Wozniacki from the list with the Dane on 71 weeks.
10. Iga Swiatek – 72 weeks
Swiatek first ascended the throne in April 2022 and while many at the time felt she was lucky as it came on the back of Ashleigh Barty’s retirement, there is no doubt she has proven that she is a worthy No 1.The Pole has spent 72 consecutive weeks at the top of the WTA Rankings – which is eighth in that particular all-time list. There is no doubt that Swiatek will reach 100 weeks and who knows, she could even hit 200 weeks if she continues her current form.
9. Lindsay Davenport – 98 weeks
The American fell just short of the 100-week mark, but she had eight different stints at No 1 with her first spell starting in October 1998 and her final one in January 2006.Her longest period in terms of consecutive weeks at No 1 was 44 weeks from Oct 2004 until August 2005.
8. Justine Henin – 117 weeks
The Belgian surged to the top in the WTA Rankings in October 2003 after winning the French Open and US Open as she became the 13th world No 1.However, she was No 1 for only one week as she played musical chairs with compatriot Kim Clijsters. She returned to No 1 on November 10 and would add another 44 weeks to her total.Henin’s longest stint at No 1 was from March 2007 until May 2008 as she spent 61 consecutive weeks at the top and it was also her fourth and final stint.
7. Ashleigh Barty – 121 weeks
Barty first took over at No 1 in June 2019 after winning the French Open and she stayed there for a couple of weeks before being bumped off top spot by Naomi Osaka.The Australian then returned to top spot in September 2019 and she remained there until she retired in 2022, giving her the fourth-longest streak in terms of consecutive weeks at No 1. Graf, Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova are the only players ahead of her.
6. Monica Seles – 178 weeks
Monica Seles’ career always tends to be followed by the words “what could have been” after she missed several years following an on-court knife attack in 1993.She ended Graf’s stint of 186 consecutive weeks at No 1 in March 1991 and the pair would trade places at the top over the next few years before Seles’ career was put on a halt in April 1993 when a deranged Graf fan stabbed her in the back. At the time she had spent a total of 91 weeks at No 1 and of course she returned to the top spot when she made her comeback in 1995. She added another 56 weeks to her total with her final week at No 1 coming in November 1996.
5. Martina Hingis – 209 weeks
The Swiss Miss broke onto the scene in 1996 when she became the youngest Grand Slam champion at 15 years and nine months after winning the Wimbledon doubles title alongside Helena Sukova.The following year she would make her breakthrough in the singles as she won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open and also finished runner-up at the French Open.Her first stint started in March 1997 and she remained top until October 1998. She had another four spells at No 1 with the final one lasting 73 weeks to take her to 209 weeks in total.
4. Chris Evert – 260 weeks
The American first surged to the top of the rankings in November 1975 on the back of winning the US Open – her fourth Grand Slam – before she was even 21 years old.Her first stint lasted only 25 weeks, but she returned for another 113 weeks between May 1976 and July 1978.The last of her nine spells started in October 1985 and finished in November of that year.
3. Serena Williams – 319 weeks
Serena Williams first became world No 1 on July 8, 2002 shortly after she won her maiden Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam overall, defeating sister Venus in the final at SW19 to also replace her at the top of the WTA Rankings.Her first spell lasted 57 weeks as she stayed at No 1 until August 2003.Williams only returned to No 1 in September 2008, but her longest spell of 186 consecutive weeks started in February 2013 and only ended in September 2016, which took her to 309 weeks at the top.
She had two more spells to finish on 319 weeks at No 1.
2. Martina Navratilova – 332 weeks
The all-time great first hit the top in July 1978 and over the next few years she regularly traded places with Evert and Tracy Austin.Her longest stint of 156 weeks ran from June 1982 until June 1985 as she went to 240 weeks in total while her ninth and final stint from November 1985 until August 1987 lasted 90 weeks as she set a record (at the time) of 332 weeks.
1. Steffi Graf – 377 weeks
The German became world No 1 for the first time in August 1987 and she would remain top until March 1991 with her 186 weeks the joint-record with Serena Williams for most consecutive weeks at No 1. She then had several mini spells as she traded places with Seles before her Yugoslav-born rival spent 91 weeks at the top between September 1991 and June 1993.Graf only returned to the top in June 1993 after she won Wimbledon and Seles was ruled out following the stabbing incident in Hamburg in 1993. Her fourth stint lasted 87 weeks as she took her tally to 277 weeks.The German’s final week at No 1 came March 1997 and that took her to a record 377 weeks. That remains the record in women’s tennis.