Sabine Appelmans, one of the best ever women players Belgium, is one of many players who played their best tennis and posted their best Grand Slam results at the Australian Open.
During her career Appelmans of Belgium played the Australian Open 12 times, with her best showing coming in 1997 where she lost to eventual runner-up Mary Pierce.
After beating the likes of Helena Sukova and Conchita Martinez – both of whom became Hall of Famers – Appelmans nearly cracked the Final Four “Down Under” but fell to Pierce 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.
She nearly became the first woman from Belgium to win a major singles title and the Australian Open, but Justine Henin was the first to win a major at the 2003 French Open and claimed victory in Australia in 2004.
Appelmans actually retired at the Australian Open in 2001, losing her final career match against Denisa Chladkova in the second round.
In 2000, she reached the third round in Melbourne and lost to Serena Williams in a tough 6-2, 7-6 (2) decision
In 1999, she also reached the third round losing to Monica Seles 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Interesting that Appelmans said that it was not Serena who was the toughest player she had to face in her career, but Steffi Graf and listed Seles as the second-toughest player she ever played.
“She was like an icon to me,” said Appelmans of Graf to Betway. “I looked up to her. She had an unbelievable forehand. She had unbelievable footwork as well. I remember playing her for the first time and only winning one game, so that was very tough.”
Of Seles, Appelmans said, “She was such a fighter on the court, playing everything with two hands, getting to all the balls, bringing everything back. I enjoyed playing her, but I never beat her, so that was a tough opponent.”
Appelmans turned pro in 1988, and won her first of seven WTA singles titles beating Chanda Rubin in the final in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1991. She participated three times in the Olympics (in 1992, 1996 and 2000) – at the 1992 Games in Barcelona she reached the quarterfinals in singles. Her career high WTA ranking was No. 16, earned in November 1997.