Melanie Jayne South (born 3 May 1986 in Kingston upon Thames) is an English tennis player. So far in her career she has won a total of six singles and 22 doubles titles on the ITF tour and reached a career-high singles ranking of world number 99 on 2 February 2009.
Her greatest success in a Grand Slam so far came in the first round of the 2006 Wimbledon Championships when she came back from one set down to beat the world number 14,Francesca Schiavone, in a match witnessed by Martina Navratilova. At the time, South was ranked at 305 in the world and had reached the main draw courtesy of a wild card. Not since the third round of the 1998 tournament, when Samantha Smith beat the world number 7 Conchita Martínez, had a British woman beaten an opponent of a similar ranking at Wimbledon. She lost in the second round to Shenay Perry, the world number 62. Outside of Wimbledon, South reached the first round of the 2009 Australian Open without needing to qualify or receiving a wild card. This was the first time in her career that her ranking was high enough to grant her access to a Grand Slam main draw without a wild card. She lost to world number 17, Marion Bartoli, in round one.
She retired in 2013.
Melanie South's mother is called Sheila and her father, John, used to play professional football for Fulham (1964–66) and Brentford (1966–67). John is now a tennis coach at New Malden tennis club and Sheila was a short tennis coach. She has two brothers, Andrew and Stephen, who both used to play tennis recreationally. She began playing tennis herself at the age of 6 years old.
South enjoys shopping, spending time with her friends, seeing films at the cinema, swimming and listening to music. Before a match she likes to listen to either Christina Aguilera or her brother Stephen's band, the Kicking Pills.
She attended Nonsuch High School in Cheam, South London where she gained 7 GCSEs (one A* grade, four As and two Bs) and two A grades in A-level Psychology and PE as well as a grade C in A-level General Studies. She is currently furthering her education by taking an Open University course in Understanding Health which she hopes will lead onto another course in Psychology.
South's style of gameplay centres around her powerful serve and her aggressive ground strokes. She regularly serves aces and gets many more free points from other serves which cannot be returned, making her a difficult player to break when she's playing at her best. However because her serve is so high-risk, at times she serves a large number of double faults and when a couple of these come in the same game it puts her at a sizable disadvantage. In her first round match at Wimbledon 2008 against Alona Bondarenko she served a total of 10 aces, 7 double faults and won 68% of the points behind her first serve. She also hit 45 winners and 48 unforced errors during this match, a statistic which demonstrates her aggressive, high-risk attitude to tennis. Renowned tennis coach, Nick Bollettieri, saw South play during her first round match against his charge, Michelle Larcher de Brito, in the 2008 French Open and commented: "She can serve well and has good ground strokes. She moves well for a big girl but you can see that lateral movement is a problem for her. Whenever she's pushed out wide she can struggle."