In May 2017, she reached a career-high singles ranking of world No. 26 in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). She won her first WTA title at the 2017 ASB Classic in Auckland, where she defeated Ana Konjuh in the final.
Born in Gates Mills, Ohio, Davis began playing tennis at age nine. Upon turning 16, she left her hometown for training at the Evert Tennis Academy. Davis' parents both work in the medical profession. Her mother is a nurse and still resides in Gates Mills, and her father a cardiologist working in Wisconsin.
Davis made her junior debut via wild card at the 2008 US Open, losing to Ajla Tomljanović.
After a third-round appearance in a Grade 1 tournament in Carson, California, she won her first junior tournament at a Grade 3 tournament in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, defeating Brooke Bolender in three sets. She finished 2009 with a quarterfinal appearance at the US Open, before a third-round loss at the Dunlop Orange Bowl.
In 2010, Davis reached one quarterfinal in the first four months, before reaching the final of the Easter Bowl, losing to Krista Hardebeck. She again lost in the final of a tournament, this time in the 51st Trofeo Bonfiglio to Beatrice Capra. In November 2010, she went on an 18-match winning streak, winning the Grade 1 tournaments Yucatán World Cup and the Eddie Herr youth tournament, as well as the Grade A Orange Bowl tournament. She finished the year a career-high world number three on the junior tour.
She ended her junior career after a third-round appearance at the 2011 Australian Open.
Davis was awarded a wildcard into the 2011 Australian Open, where she lost her first Grand Slam appearance against fifth-seeded Samantha Stosur in the first round. She officially turned pro in 2011 and won her first WTA match at the 2011 Miami Masters qualifiers by beating Jill Craybas in three sets She then lost to Anastasiya Yakimova.
In qualifying for the Charleston Open on 4 April, Davis lost to Stéphanie Foretz. While waiting to give a post-match interview in a corporate booth, she was knocked unconscious when lighting equipment fell on her head. She suffered a concussion that kept her out of competition for months and left her suffering from occasional migraines for several months after that.
It was a windy day, and a whole big camera just blew onto my head. I didn't do anything physical for a long time. I didn't read anything. The only thing I could do was watch TV, eat and sleep. I had a headache, 24-7, that never went away. — Davis, on her injury
In October 2013, Davis filed a lawsuit against Production Design Associates and High Output, who had been hired by sponsors Dove to provide and install video and lighting equipment for the interview booths. Her complaint stated:
While plaintiff was waiting to be interviewed, a piece of lighting and video equipment selected, provided and installed by defendants fell and struck plaintiff in the head, knocking her unconscious. [Plaintiff] continues to suffer from serious, severe and painful head trauma and injuries including a concussion, post-concussion syndrome with its resulting emotional effects, and severe and long-term headaches. [Plaintiff] has required expensive and long term medical treatment including multiple emergency room visits, evaluation and treatment by specialists, diagnostic tests such as CT scans and MRI, prescription medications, and other treatments and will continue to require medical care in the future.
She sought actual and punitive damages for negligence and gross negligence.
In the 2012 BNP Paribas Open, she defeated Petra Martić in the first round and then lost to Nadia Petrova in the round of 64. Davis lost in the first round of the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open to Vera Dushevina.
Davis made it through the qualifying rounds to get her into the main draw of the 2012 French Open, where she won her first main draw Grand Slam match against 30th seed Mona Barthel in straight sets. In the second round, she lost to compatriot Christina McHale in straight sets.
Davis reached her second career quarterfinal at the Hobart International, where she lost to Sloane Stephens. In February, she won the USTA Dow Corning Tennis Classic title by defeating Alja Tomljanović in the final. She replaced an injured Victoria Azarenka at the Miami Masters, where she defeated Madison Keys in the second round. In the third round, she faced Alizé Cornet and lost in three sets. During the match, Davis was stung on the buttocks by a wasp in the third set. Though it caused her significant pain, Davis refused to blame her loss on it. The overwhelming heat affected Davis and Cornet as both players left the court in wheelchairs.
Davis then reached the quarterfinals of the Monterrey Open, where she lost to eventual champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She was knocked out in the first round of the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Her furthest advance for the remainder of the year was a quarterfinal appearance at the Bell Challenge in September, where she lost to Lucie Šafářová.
At the Australian Open, Davis beat Julia Görges to advance to the third round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. There, she was defeated by Eugenie Bouchard. At the BNP Paribas Open, Davis defeated world No. 4 Victoria Azarenka in the second round, marking her first victory over a top-10 player and a Grand Slam champion. She then defeated Varvara Lepchenko, but withdrew in the fourth round due to illness. At the Sony Open in Miami, she won her first-round match against Zhang Shuai, but lost in the second round to Ana Ivanovic. Following an early exit at the French Open, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the Aegon International, where she lost to Madison Keys.
At the 2014 Wimbledon Championships, Davis upset Flavia Pennetta in straight sets and advanced to the third round of the tournament for the first time. She ended the year ranked world No. 57.
Davis reached the semifinals of the ASB Classic in Auckland, her greatest success in a WTA tournament at the time, where she lost to Venus Williams. Following the conclusion of the early hard-court season, she entered the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. Playing on clay, one of her best surfaces, she avenged her loss to Eugenie Bouchard at the previous year's Australian Open, defeating her in straight sets. She then advanced to the third round against Mona Barthel, who retired from the match while down a set. Davis exited the tournament in the quarterfinals.
Davis reached her first WTA final at the 2016 Citi Open, where she was runner-up against Yanina Wickmayer. She reached her second career final at the Coupe Banque Nationale in September, and was runner-up to Oceane Dodin.
Davis won her first WTA title at the 2017 ASB Classic in Auckland, defeating Ana Konjuh in the final. She also reached the quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open in Doha and the Dubai Duty Free Championships. As a result, she achieved a career-high ranking of world No. 37 in the Women's Tennis Association. Steve Tignor of Tennis.com noted, "Lauren Davis is playing the tennis of her life."
Davis reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, equaling her result in 2014. She was also part of the United States team that reached the Fed Cup final with a victory over the Czech Republic.
Playing her first red clay-court tournament of the year, she easily advanced to the quarterfinals of the Morocco Open in Rabat, winning each of her victories in straight sets before dropping a three-set match to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. In May, she reached a new career-best ranking of world No. 26.
Davis is primarily known for her backhand, quickness, and clay-court abilities.
While analyzing Davis's game, Mike Whalley of the BBC labeled her backhand "a big weapon," while E.J. Crawford of US Open.org described it as "terrific", likening her style to that of Amanda Coetzer. On offense, Davis hits deep ground strokes to move opponents backward, often setting up her backhand as a finishing shot. While playing on hard courts, she will usually draw opponents forward and attempt cross-court winners, or send serves wide and hit backhands down the line.
Davis is also noted for her backhand defense. At the 2015 Family Circle Cup, she returned a 102-mph serve from Eugenie Bouchard with a backhand winner. During their 2014 meeting, Victoria Azarenka repeatedly lost points while attacking Davis's backhand up the middle of the court—including on match point—allowing Davis to create angles. While discussing Davis in an interview, Christina McHale noted, "You don't get free points with her very often", and described her backhand as "very tough".
In a 2015 article, WTATennis.com noted Davis's "speed and court coverage", while the BBC recognized her for "whizzing round the court." Following her title victory at the ASB Classic in 2017, Michael Burgess of The New Zealand Herald declared "only David Ferrer and Michael Chang are comparable to her ability to make an opponent play another shot." During Davis's final junior year, Mary Joe Fernández commended her "speed, quickness, competitiveness and heart."
In contrast to some of her American peers, who have been perceived as being uncomfortable on clay, Davis is recognized for her skill on the surface. Following her second-round win at the 2015 Family Circle Cup, WTATennis.com labeled her performance "a clay-court masterclass." While discussing the surface, Davis noted, "I think clay really works for me, because I'm pretty fast. I can slide really well and I can make a lot of balls, so it really works for me." Davis has named hard court as her other favorite surface.
Women's Doubles partners: CM Christina McHale GM Grace Min LDL Lourdes Domínguez Lino MML Megan Moulton-Levy MP Monica Puig NG Nicole Gibbs RV Renata Voráčová CWC Chan Chin-wei KN Kurumi Nara
Mixed Doubles partners: NM Nicholas Monroe