Lindsay Davenport’s professional career may be slowly winding down (she announced at the end of the 2005 season that she will not play as many events in 2006), but her contributions to the sport will always cause Davenport to be remembered as one of the grittiest players to ever step on a tennis court – male or female.
Davenport, 30, is a three-time Grand Slam champion, having won the 1998 U.S. Open, 1999 Wimbledon and the 2000Australian Open.
Davenport, whose game is built largely around her impressive groundstrokes, also won the Olympic gold medal in 1996 and was ranked as a number one women’s singles and doubles player several times between 1998 and 2001, and twice again in 2004. Davenport was also ranked number one for most of the 2005 season, being briefly overtaken by Maria Sharapova for two weeks before last year’s U.S. Open.
Davenpoort, who, at 6-2, is one of the tallest women to ever play professional tennis, was the year-end number one player in 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2005. Only three other women have finished number one at least four times since the computer singles ranking was established in 1975; Steffi Graf (eight), Martina Navratilova (seven) and Chris Evert (six). As a result of Davenport’s recent inactivity, in addition to her lower back injury, her ranking has fallen to a still respectable, number 10.
Nevertheless, in February of 2006, Davenport became just the eighth woman in WTA history to win 700 singles matches in her career. She did so in style by handing out her fourth career “double bagel”, as she defeated Elena Likhovtseva 6-0, 6-0 in the 2nd Round of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open.
Davenport has not played in two months because of her alwayss iffy back. However, I fully expect Davenport to have a legitimate chance at winning the 2006 U.S. Open. Anything beyond that would just be pure speculation – although it will certainly be a sad day when Lindsay Davenport decides to call it quits.
Davenport has rightfully earned a reputation as being thoughtful, polite, and well balanced, unlike some of her colleagues. Unfortunately, Davenport’s relative lack of “charisma” (or, more likely, her less glamorous appearance than some others on the tour) has resulted in less attention being paid to her than some of her more publicized brethren with inferior results.
Another Grand Slam title sure would be a nice way to end a career now wouldn’t it?