1968 saw the beginning of the Open era reflecting that the tennis players were no longer amateur and would receive prize money for being successful. Today, nearly 24,000 excited spectators will cram themselves into the Arthur Ashe stadium to see who will be the next big name to take their share of the USD 57 million prize pot and go into the US Open history books.
The Most Successful Men’s Singles US Open Champions (Pre- Open Era)
Richard Sears (1881 to 1887)
Let’s start at the very beginning when in 1881 American Richard Sears won the first ever pre-Open era title. In fact, he was so much better than the rest of the competition he remained unbeaten in the singles competition between 1881 and 1887. His success in both the singles and the men’s doubles, where together with James Dwight (5 times partner) and Joseph Clark (one time partner), he won the doubles title from 1882 to 1887 which helped place Richard Sears in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Sadly, he did not win any other Grand Slam event other than the US Open but travel was probably not so straightforward back in those days.
William Larned (1901, 1902, 1907 to 1911)
Another American who went on to win the pre-Open era title on seven occasions matching Richard Sears’ achievement. He was also a runner-up twice in 1900 and 1903, the latter of which was a loss to British tennis player Laurence Doherty, who become the first foreign player to win the US Open. William Larned was a keen sportsman in his prime, captaining a hockey club and he was a keen golfer and rifle shot. Larned was also a keen pioneer for the sport and invented the steel framed tennis in racket in 1922 and started production. Sadly, his health deteriorated with rheumatoid arthritis and spinal meningitis partially paralyzed him, forcing him to retire. With his poor health he struggled being unable to do what he loved the most and committed suicide by shooting himself. Such was his success at the US Open, Larned was placed in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Bill Tilden (1920 to 1925 and 1929)
Another American and the only other player apart from Larned and Sears to win the US Open seven times. Bill Tilden was nicknamed ‘Big Bill’ and he dominated the tennis scene during the 1920’s. This was highlighted through his six consecutive tournament wins, six years as amateur world number one and a whole host of records that he broke in the competition. For example, he played in ten finals overall, played in eight consecutive finals, had a win percentage of 91.02% and a 42-match winning streak! During his career Big Bill won 10 Grand Slam titles in total, winning the French Grand Slam twice and Wimbledon three times. He was the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920 and the last of his three titles came in 1930 at the ripe age of 37.
The Most Successful Women’s Singles US Open Champions (Pre-Open Era)
Molla Mallory (1915 to 1918, 1920 to 1922 and 1926)
It was Ellen Hansell who won the very first pre-Open title in 1887 at the tender age of seventeen, making her one of the youngest ever winners. However, it was Molla Mallory who became the most successful woman tennis player of that era. Born in Norway in 1884 she became a naturalised American and went on to win eight US Open titles during her career. She was an aggressive baseline player and represented Norway in the Olympics. Her only other Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon and something she would wish to forget. Playing Suzanne Lenglen, Mallory lost 6 – 2, 6 – 0 in only 26 minutes making it the shortest ever recorded Grand Slam final. However, her dominance in the pre-Open era was magnificent, winning her last title aged 42 she was the oldest ever female champion of the US Open. Mallory along with Chris Evert are the only women to win the tournament on four consecutive occasions. Mallory also won the women’s doubles twice and the mixed doubles three times partnering Bill Tilden.
The Most Successful Men’s Singles US Open Champions (Open Era)
Jimmy Conners (1974, 1976, 1978, 1982 and 1983)
Known as being a maverick, left-handed Conners is one of three men to win the US Open five times during the Open Era. 1974 was an important year for Jimmy Conners as he established his dominance in world tennis. That year he had a 100% match winning season winning the US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon becoming the second man to achieve this at that time. It led to Conners consistently having a win percentage of over 80% from 1974 until 1985. With eight Grand Slam titles including one Australian Open and two at Wimbledon his five in a row at the US Open remains a record. Furthermore, due to the venues changing for the tournament during this period, he is also the only man to win the US Open playing on grass, clay and a hard court. His 1974 season included the shortest ever US Open men’s final beating Ken Rosewell with a 6 – 0, 6 – 1, 6 – 0 in one hour and 18 minutes.
Pete Sampras (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2002)
Also known as ‘Pistol Pete’ he has 14 grand slam wins during his career, a record at that time. His career ended with a win over Andre Agassi for a record equalling fifth US Open, to cement his name in the history books alongside Jimmy Conners. He then retired with records such as winning a grand slam in his teens, 20’s and 30’s, and ending the year ranked world number one on six occasions.
Roger Federer (2004 to 2008)
One of the greatest of all time, Roger has 19 Grand Slam titles to his name, five of which are the US Open that were won in consecutive years creating an Open era record. This also created an open era record of 40 consecutive matches undefeated in the competition. His sixth consecutive chance to win the US Open in 2009 was foiled by Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in which Federer lost in a five-set thriller.
The Most Successful Women’s Singles US Open Champions (Open Era)
Chris Evert (1975 to 1978, 1980 and 1982)
Known as the ‘Ice Princess’, Chris Evert has won the US Open a record a record six times during the Open era. In the same competition she was also three times runner up and overall had an excellent win percentage of 89.97%, the second best out of male and female tennis players in the tournament. Chris Evert managed to reach at least one Grand Slam final for 13 consecutive seasons and has won the Australian Open twice, Wimbledon three times and the French Open seven times.
Serena Williams (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012 to 2014)
The aggressive baseliner has once in a while caused some controversy in US Open finals of which she has appeared in ten, winning six of them to equal the Open era record of Chris Evert. In three of her tournament titles, she went on to win the competition without losing a set. Serena Williams holds the record for the most match wins at the US Open with 106 wins and has won the title in three different decades (1999 – 2012). Considered a greatest of all time, Serena Williams has also won Wimbledon seven times, the Australian Open seven times and the French Open three times.
Will Serena be back in 2022 to try and steal that record Open era seventh win? That remains to be seen and we hope you have enjoyed our overview of the most successful US Open Champions. If you are planning to have a bet on the US Open tennis championship, we would like to remind you that gambling can cause personal and financial issues, if it is not treated with respect. If you feel you have an issue with gambling then visit gambleaware.co.uk for free help and support.