Class of 2010
Singles World No. 5 (1989)
Doubles World No. 1 (1991)
Grand Slam Results
20-time major champion, 16-time finalist
Overall Record: 1148-422
Singles Record: 434-252
Doubles Record: 714-170
Bronze medal in Women’s Doubles at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games
Member of the USSR Federation Cup Team 1986-1991, Member of the Belarusian Federation Cup Team 1994-1999 and 2002
Overall Record: 59-21
Singles Record: 35-16
Doubles Record: 24-5
The numbers are accurate, not a massive typo or misprint. In her 14-year career, Natasha Zvereva won 20 major doubles titles, appeared in 35 major finals and won a staggering 86 championships playing on the Women’s Tennis Association tour.
Her partner in winning 14 of those major titles was the big serve and volleyer Gigi Fernández, and that duo holds the second-longest major doubles title streak in the Open Era, winning six in a row from the French Open in 1992 through Wimbledon in 1993, ranking just below the eight earned by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. In a February 20, 1995 Sports Illustrated profile on the daunting Zvereva- Fernández duo, Navratilova said, “We were power. They are finesse. It would have been close.”
The bubbly-playing tandem that prospered because they were teammates and friends, impressively won a non-calendar year Grand Slam, running from the 1992 French Open to the 1993 Australian Open. Together, they won the Australian (1993, 1994), French (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997), Wimbledon (1992, 1993, 1994, 1997), and US Open (1992, 1995, 1996). Before Zvereva combined forces with Fernández to win more titles in history other than Navratilova and Shriver, she claimed the 1989 French Open and 1991 Wimbledon titles with Russian star Larisa Savchenko, and the 1991 US Open championship with Shriver. In 1997, Zvereva won the Australian with Martina Hingis.
Ranking among the greatest doubles players in history, Zvereva earned two Australian Open Mixed Doubles titles, one in 1990 with Jim Pugh and the other in 1995 alongside Rick Leach. Her doubles acumen was legendary and the results she compiled in mass made her place in Newport a forgone conclusion. She won three of the four major doubles majors in the same year four times (1992, 1994, 1997) and won four non-calendar year major doubles titles in 1992-1993 and 1996-97. The duo registered impressive victories at Wimbledon in 1992 (6-4, 6-1 over Jana Novotna and Savchenko), the 1994 French (6-2, 6-2 over Lindsay Davenport and Lisa Raymond), and Wimbledon in 1994 (6-4, 6-1 over Novotna and Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario).
Zvereva was a terrific counter puncher with a driving topspin forehand. She rolled over the ball forcefully and was always on the attack whether it was in doubles or singles play. She hit her power backhand with two hands, but also employed a smooth one-handed slice backhand. Her serve was tailor-made for doubles – it kicked wide and away from her opponent equally well on both the ad and deuce courts. Aided by an oversized racquet and supreme reflexes, Zvereva’s punched volleys for winners. This multi-faceted game made her a difficult doubles player to neutralize. In her 18 major doubles victories, Zvereva lost only six sets playing on the game’s biggest stages. She was a finalist 13 times, forcing a third set five times. Her career doubles record saw her win 81 percent of her matches (714-170). “Natasha has the best hands in the game,” Monica Seles told SFGate in July 1998.
In singles play, Zvereva lost to Steffi Graf at the 1988 French Open, her only major finals appearance. She was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1998 and a quarterfinalist at the Australian (1995) and U.S. Open (1993). She did win four singles titles (Brisbane and Sydney in 1990, Chicago in 1994, Eastbourne in 1999) and was ranked among the season-ending singles Top 10 players in the world (1988, 1994). She played for the USSR and Belarusian Fed Cup teams and played in 80 matches. She holds the record for most wins (59) and most singles wins (35).
Zvereva, who publicly challenged the Soviet government to allow her to keep her tour earnings, and was successful in that campaign, earned a Bronze Medal in doubles at the 1992 Olympic Games played in Barcelona, Spain, as a member of the Unified Team.
Australian Open: QF 1995
French Open: F 1988
Wimbledon: SF 1998
US Open: QF 1993
Australian Open: W 1993, 1994, 1997
French Open: W 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997
Wimbledon: W 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997
US Open: W 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996
Australian Open: W 1990, 1995
French Open: QF 1992, 1993
Wimbledon: F 1991
US Open: F 1990