PSA World Championships: A History

The biggest tournament in squash will take place in Cairo later this month, when 128 of the world’s best players will compete at the PSA World Championships 2021-2022.

The last few years have been dominated by the Egyptians, with six different winners over the last four years, including Nour El Sherbini winning the women’s World Championship four times.

The inaugural men’s World Championship began in 1976 in London from January 31 to February 7 of that year – with the whole tournament being played at the old Wembley Stadium, home of the English football team. That same year, the women’s World Championship also began, when the iconic Heather McKay lifted the first of her two titles, beating Marion Jackman on home soil in Brisbane, Australia.

Fellow Australians Rhona Thorne and Vicki Cardwell followed in McKay’s footsteps, before the legendary Susan Devoy became the first non-Australian player to get her hands on the coveted trophy in 1985, at which point the tournament was a biennial event.

Since then, the tournament has been staged all around the world, with the competition being held in countries such as the United States, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Hong Kong and Germany to name a few.

Australian legend Geoff Hunt took the first men’s World Championship title after he beat Pakistan’s Mohibullah Khan in the final and he held onto it for a further three years after defeating Qamar Zaman on all three occasions, once in Canada and twice in his native country.

The next 16 years saw the men’s World Championship dominated by players from Pakistan and, more specifically, Jahangir and Jansher Khan, who between them won all but two World Championship titles between 1981 and 1996. The two Khan’s are the most decorated players to have graced the men’s World Championship with Jansher having eight to his name, whilst Jahangir captured the title six times – and the pair are considered to be two of the greatest players ever to play the sport.

A host of the biggest names in squash have also lifted the illustrious title, with Amr Shabana (4), Ramy Ashour (3), Nick Matthew (3), David Palmer (2) and more recently, Egyptian trio, Mohamed ElShorbagy, Tarek Momen and Ali Farag all having their names engraved on the famous men’s trophy.

Meanwhile, Martine Le Moignan was the first Englishwoman to capture the title, before Devoy took the next two titles in 1990 and 1992, with the tournament switching to an annual format from that point onwards.

Australia dominated the women’s event over the next decade, with Michelle Martin’s triumph in 1993 bringing about a period that saw the title shared between her (three wins), Sarah Fitz-Gerald (5) and Carol Owens (1) in nine of the 10 tournaments held between 1993-2002. England’s Cassie Campion was the only player to put a dent in the Australian dominance of the 90s, with her 1999 triumph over Martin seeing her become the first female English World Champion in 10 years.

Over the next few years, the legendary Malaysian Nicol David made her mark on the tournament, claiming her maiden World Championship title in Hong Kong in 2005 courtesy of a win over Australian Rachael Grinham, before retaining her title the following year with a win over Grinham’s younger sister, Natalie.

The Grinham sisters met in the final in 2007, with Rachael being the victor, but David responded with an incredible five wins on the bounce in an unprecedented spell of dominance. That run eventually came to an end in the 2013 edition, which saw England’s Laura Massaro claim her first Worlds title in Penang, beating then 18-year-old Nour El Sherbini in the showpiece finale.

But El Sherbini soon got her hands on the sport’s biggest prize when she battled back from two games down to become the youngest ever women’s World Champion at the age of 20 – eclipsing the record set by Devoy 31 years earlier.

Since then, El Sherbini has made her mark on the tournament, also sealing the 2016 edition when she beat compatriot Raneem El Welily in the final. The ‘Warrior Princess’ has also won the last two editions, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, winning in Chicago and at the Pyramids. El Welily did get her revenge in 2017 to claim the biggest prize in the sport in El Gouna.

Meanwhile, in the men’s event, Karim Abdel Gawad, Mohamed ElShorbagy, Ali Farag and Tarek Momen, the top four in the World Rankings for a period of time, all claimed their maiden World Championships, with Farag the reigning champ going into this year’s event.


Previous Winners – Men
2020-2021  Ali Farag
2019-2020  Tarek Momen (EGY)
2018-2019  Ali Farag (EGY)
2017  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
2016  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
2015  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
2014  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
2013  Nick Matthew (ENG)
2012  Ramy Ashour (ENG)
2011  Nick Matthew (ENG)
2010  Nick Matthew (ENG)
2009  Amr Shabana (EGY)
2008  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
2007  Amr Shabana (EGY)
2006  David Palmer (AUS)
2005  Amr Shabana (EGY)
2004  Thierry Lincou (FRA)
2003  Amr Shabana (EGY)
2002  David Palmer (AUS)
2001  No competition
2000  No competition
1999  Peter Nicol (SCO)
1998  Jonathon Power (CAN)
1997  Rodney Eyles (AUS)
1996  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1995  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1994  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1993  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1992  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1991  Rodney Martin (AUS)
1990  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1989  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1988  Jahangir Khan (PAK)
1987  Jansher Khan (PAK)
1986  Ross Norman (NZL)
1985  Jahangir Khan (PAK)
1984  Jahangir Khan (PAK)
1983  Jahangir Khan (PAK)
1982  Jahangir Khan (PAK)
1981  Jahangir Khan (PAK)
1980  Geoff Hunt (AUS)
1979   Geoff Hunt (AUS)
1978  No competition
1977  Geoff Hunt (AUS)
1976  Geoff Hunt (AUS)

Previous Winners – Women
2020-2021  Nour El Sherbini
2019-2020  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
2018-2019  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
2017  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
2016  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
2015  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
2014  Nicol David (MAS)
2013  Laura Massaro (ENG)
2012  Nicol David (MAS)
2011  Nicol David (MAS)
2010  Nicol David (MAS)
2009  Nicol David (MAS)
2008  Nicol David (MAS)
2007  Rachael Grinham (AUS)
2006  Nicol David (MAS)
2005  Nicol David (MAS)
2004  Vanessa Atkinson (NED)
2003  Carol Owens (NZL)
2002  Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS)
2001  Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS)
2000  Carol Owens (AUS)
1999  Cassie Campion (ENG)
1998  Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS)
1997  Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS)
1996  Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS)
1995  Michelle Martin (AUS)
1994  Michelle Martin (AUS)
1993  Michelle Martin (AUS)
1992  Susan Devoy (NZL)
1991  No competition
1990  Susan Devoy (NZL)
1989  Martine Le Moignan (ENG)
1988  No competition
1987  Susan Devoy (NZL)
1986  No competition
1985  Susan Devoy (NZL)
1984  No competition
1983  Vicki Cardwell (AUS)
1982  No competition
1981  Rhonda Thorne (AUS)
1980  No competition
1979  Heather McKay (AUS)
1978  No competition
1977  No competition
1976  Heather McKay (AUS)