Three sets of tennis offer many possibilities. Some of the greatest U.S. Open women’s singles finals have produced freak results, surprising upsets, dominant victories, and heartbreaking losses. The best players can end up on either side of the coin. Just ask Serena Williams.

When is the U.S. Open Women’s Final?

The 2023 U.S. Open women’s singles final is set for Saturday, Sept. 9.

What time is the U.S. Open Women’s Final?

The 2023 U.S. Open women’s singles final will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sept. 9.

U.S. Open Women’s Finals History

Ellen Hansell won the first U.S. Open women’s singles title back in 1887. The first champion of the Open Era (when pros became eligible to compete) was Virginia Wade in 1968. The most recent champion was Iga Swiatek in 2022. Click here for a full list of women’s U.S. Open tennis winners.

Who has won the most U.S. Open women’s titles?

Including the pre-1968 amateurs-only era, Norwegian-American dual citizen Molla Bjurstedt Mallory holds the record for U.S. Open women’s singles titles with eight. Since the Open Era began in 1968, Serena Williams and Chris Evert are tied for the most women’s U.S. Open titles with six apiece.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest U.S. Open Women’s Finals of all time

  1. No. 4 Naomi Osaka defeats Victoria Azarenka in 2020

Match Result: 1-6, 6-3, 6-3

She has not competed at a Grand Slam event in 2023, but Naomi Osaka has been the latest rising star in women’s tennis, having already claimed four major titles. The third of those championships came at the 2020 U.S. Open, where she found herself down a set and a break in the final against Victoria Azarenka.

“I feel like two years ago, I maybe would have folded being down a set and a break," Osaka explained after the match.

Refusing to fold, the 22-year-old suddenly took control of the match. She mounted her comeback, by winning six of the last seven games in the middle set.

  1. No. 3 Tracy Austin defeats No. 1 Chris Evert in 1979

Match Result: 6-4, 6-3

Tracy Austin shocked world No. 1 Chris Evert to win the 1979 U.S. Open and become the youngest major champion in the history of tennis’ Open Era. At just 16 years and nine months old, Austin was younger than any man or woman who had ever claimed a Grand Slam event title.

It was no easy feat. Evert came into the match as a four-time defending U.S. Open champion. At the 1978 tournament, she had defeated a 15-year-old Austin in the quarterfinals. In fact, a 14-year-old Austin had even managed to reach the quarterfinals at the 1977 U.S. Open. Her 1979 post-match experience featured a surprise call from President Jimmy Carter

  1. No. 4 Venus Williams defeats No. 10 Serena Williams in 2001

Match Result: 6-2, 6-4

A Venus-Serena matchup deserves to be on any list of history’s top 10 U.S. Open women’s singles finals. Indeed, the sisters’ showdown at the 2001 U.S. Open marked the first time they faced each other in a Grand Slam final -- something that would happen a total of nine times.

Venus Williams was in dominant form at the 2001 U.S. Open and had not dropped a single set en route to the final. Serena had barely survived a challenge from world No. 3 Lindsay Davenport in the quarterfinals before impressively eliminating world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the semis.

It was next to no contest in the final: Venus won 12 of the 18 total games.

  1. No. 4 Darlene Hard defeats No. 1 Maria Bueno in 1960

Match Result: 6-4, 10-12, 6-4

In the pre-Open Era, there were no tiebreaks at the U.S. Open, which back then was called the U.S. National Championships. As a result, Darlene Hard and Mario Bueno played a 22-game second set in the middle of their closely contested 1960 championship match.

Hard was far more accomplished at doubles than singles. She had won 13 Grand Slam event doubles titles in her career, plus another five mixed-doubles championships. Her win over Bueno at the 1960 U.S. National Championships gave her quite the trophy haul for that year.

Hard took home the 1960 French Open singles title, the 1960 U.S. National Championships singles title, the 1960 French Open doubles title, the 1960 Wimbledon doubles title, the 1960 U.S. National Championships doubles title, and the 1960 Wimbledon mixed-doubles title. Wow.

  1. No. 3 Margaret Osborne duPont defeats No. 1 Louise Brough in 1948

Match Result: 4-6, 6-4, 15-13

Speaking of long matches, the 1948 U.S. National Championships final managed to outdo the 1960 event. The match went on for three hours amid a slew of rain before American Margaret Osborne duPont pulled off one of the gutsiest comebacks in the history of tennis.

DuPont would win the U.S. Championships again in 1949 and 1950.

  1. No. 1 Martina Navratilova defeats No. 2 Chris Evert in 1984

Match Result: 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

In 1984, Martina Navratilova truly put the No. 1 in “World No. 1.” She entered the 1984 U.S. Open having won five consecutive Grand Slam titles. In fact, she had not lost earlier than the semifinal stage at any Grand Slam event since 1978!

Evert was no slouch herself. Already 30 by 1984, she had lost three of those five finals to Navratilova, including the 1983 U.S. Open final. Evert captured the first set in 1984, but in a good old-fashioned, no-tiebreakers match, Navratilova won the next two sets 6-4, 6-4.

A case can certainly be made that Navratilova is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.

  1. No. 3 Hana Mandlikova defeats No. 2 Martina Navratilova in 1985

Match Result: 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 7-6 (7-2)

We just discussed how Martina Navratilova was untouchable heading into the 1984 U.S. Open. Well, the following year she won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, although she fell to rival Chris Evert in the French Open final.

Navratilova’s opponent for the 1985 U.S. Open final, Hana Mandlikova, was ranked No. 3 in the world and was a three-time former Grand Slam event winner. The pair battled all the way to a memorable third-set tiebreak, which Navratilova shockingly lost. After perhaps the greatest stretch of tennis that anyone had ever played in the history of the sport, the champion was beaten.

Navratilova would be OK, of course. She came back to win the U.S. Open again in both 1986 and 1987.

  1. No. 1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeats No. 2 Steffi Graf in 1994

Match Result: 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4

It was no surprise that Steffi Graf was on a roll entering the 1994 U.S. Open final. The reigning champion had not lost a set during her previous matches at the 1994 tournament and was coming off a 1993 season in which she won three out of four available Grand Slam events.

Her success continued at the final when she rolled to a 6-1 first-set win.

Unfortunately for Graf, world No. 1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was on a streak of her own. She had also won every set on her way to the final after having already captured the 1994 French Open. She was also on a mission to avenge her loss to Graf in the 1990 U.S. Open semifinals.

The second set went to a tiebreak, and Sanchez Vicario pulled ahead. She wouldn’t look back on her way to the title.

  1. No. 1 Steffi Graf defeats No. 2 Monica Seles in 1995

Match Result: 7-6 (8-6), 0-6, 6-3

Monica Seles and Steffi Graf had a bit of a one-sided rivalry during the mid-1990s. Seles truly had Graf’s number as she built up an 11-match win streak against the German star. Her success against Graf was so remarkable that it tragically forced her to take a break from tennis in 1993. That’s because an avid fan of Graf’s literally stabbed Seles in the back during an April 1993 tournament in Hamburg.

The New York Times story on the 1994 match read: “There was no fairy-tale ending for Monica Seles, but a remarkable victory for Steffi Graf yesterday in the United States Open women's final.”

Despite losing the second set 6-0, Graf improbably rallied. With the win, she tied Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for the most Grand Slam event championships in women’s tennis history (a record she would quickly go on to break).

  1. No. 4 Serena Williams defeats No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in 2012

Match Result: 6-2, 2-6, 7-5

Notice how there haven’t been many 21st century entries on this list? Well, that’s because no U.S. Open women’s singles final from 1995 to 2011 went a full three sets. Not one!

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka broke that streak with a thrilling final in 2012. After splitting the first two sets, Azarenka had Williams at championship point -- leading 5-3 in the third. Williams broke back and then broke again, eventually winning the decisive set 7-5.

This was Serena Williams’ fifth win at the U.S. Open. She would win again in 2016 to bring her career total to six. One of those wins just happened to come in this match -- the best U.S. Open women’s final in history.

Parameters of Rankings

Rankings were determined based on the legacy of each match, the surprising nature of any given result, each match’s cultural impact, the length of each match, and the individual quality of each match.


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