In 1887, Ellen Hansell blitzed Laura Knight, 6-1, 6-0, to win the first U.S. Championships/US Open women’s singles title. Since that time the tournament has crowned a wide array of women’s winners, from baseliners to net-chargers and from big servers to moon-ballers. But for 75 consecutive years, it did one thing with the utmost consistency: only right-handers emerged victorious.
The streak started in 1908, when Maud Barger-Wallach defeated defending champion – and left-hander – Evelyn Sears in three sets. A series of fellow righties followed suit, including four-time champion Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, eight-time winner Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, seven-time titlist Helen Wills Moody and on to the modern era, with Althea Gibson, Maria Bueno, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert all extending the right-handers’ run.
Evert’s 1982 title would be the last of the dominant stretch for right-handers. The next year, Martina Navratilova, like Barger-Wallach (many) years before her, toppled the reigning champ, posting a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Evert to put a left-hander in the winner’s circle once again.
Southpaws would enjoy a brief renaissance in New York, with Navratilova winning four titles (1983-84, 86-87) and Monica Seles adding two more (1991-92), but they have since fallen back down the line. The current streak for right-handed champions now stands at 23 years – and counting.