The seven best tennis players of all time

Who are the best tennis players of all time? Here is one list of seven amazing players and seven of the most influential names in this sport.

Ranking the top seven tennis players of all time is a difficult task, because many incredible players have graced the sport at various periods across a hundred years. The first Grand Slam was played at Wimbledon in 1877, and from that time to the present, tennis has developed quite a bit of history.

Over the years, there have been quite a few dominant players who defined the era in which they played. For example, Roy Emerson and Margaret Court dominated the 60’s, while players such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic dominate tennis today. Looking back from the present to the past, these are seven of the greatest players to have ever played the game.

7. Steffi Graf

Over the course of her career, Graf was an extremely dominant player–setting a record for the most number of weeks as the world No. 1 (either male or female). She held the No. 1 spot for an amazing 377 weeks. Her other outstanding achievement was becoming the first tennis player to win all all Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal within a single calendar year. Overall, Graf won 107 career titles–including 22 Grand Slams. Interestingly, she ended up marrying fellow tennis legend Andre Agassi. Throughout her career, she dominated the tennis odds tables, being a favorite in most matches.

6. Serena Williams

The Graf vs. Williams debate is an enduring one between lovers of tennis. However, what is undeniable is the fact that the two really defined women’s tennis in their respective eras. Williams currently has fewer career titles overall than Graf, with a current tally of 71, but she went one up on Grand Slams this year when she won the Australian Open. That took her slam tally to 23. Williams is known for having an extremely powerful, aggressive style.

5. Novak Djokovic

The 30-year-old Djokovic is still in his prime, and there is no telling just how much more he may go on to achieve. In an era that was looking set to go down as being completely dominated by Federer, Djokovic swept onto the international stage in 2007, at the age of 20, winning five titles that year (two Masters 1000 events). He hasn’t looked back since. In 2011, Djokovic set a record as the only player ever to win 43 matches in a row, capturing three Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) along the way.

With 66 career titles and 12 Grand Slams under his belt, Djokovic doesn’t have the number tally on this list, but these achievements are that much more impressive considering the fact that he has faced off and won against very stiff competition–including Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray, and Andy Roddick, all of whom can lay claim to legend status.

4. Rafael Nadal

While many consider Federer to be the greatest male player of all time, Nadal has been the Swiss’ single-most consistent rival for over a decade. In recent years, Nadal has been hampered by various injuries but he has overcome them, and this year he proved his dominance by winning both the French Open and the U.S. Open, in addition to playing in the final of the Australian Open–where he was beaten by Federer in a memorable encounter. Nadal’s 74 career winners’ trophies, including 16 Grand Slams, entitle him to a position of honor on this list.

3. Margaret Court

Margaret Court, or Margaret Smith Court as she is sometimes known, was absolutely dominant in the women’s game in the 1960’s to early 70’s. Court holds the record for the highest number of Grand Slams, at 24, and is one of the very few players to have won a calendar-year Grand Slam–a feat she achieved in 1970. When she retired, she had 192 titles to her name.

2. Pete Sampras

Sampras began his career in 1988 and by the time he retired in 2002, he had acquired 14 Grand Slams–a record at the time. His rivalry with Agassi was one of the sport’s highlights throughout the 90’s, with Sampras frequently coming out on top. In the course of his career, Sampras once went six years straight as the world No. 1–an incredible feat of dominance. Despite this, however, he never won a French Open and is the only player on this list not to have completed the career Grand Slam.

1. Roger Federer

Federer’s placement at No. 1 really requires no defense. In the men’s category, Federer has consistently set the pace and currently holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles. He was also the world No. 1 for 302 straight weeks at one point. While younger players such as Nadal and Djokovic could catch and maybe overtake the veteran in terms of Grand Slam wins, there is no disputing the fact that Federer is the standout male tennis player of the 21st century. Even most tennis betting tips still back him in Grand Slams or other important competitions.

Tennis has always given birth to great players, who frequently produce such great rivalries that it is sometimes hard to tell who the greatest players of a particular time were/are. In addition to these seven players, an honorable mention must go to Monica Seles–who won an incredible eight Grand Slams before the age of 20.

12 Comments on The seven best tennis players of all time

    • Yes, Monica Seles was truly amazing, and the way her career was derailed is one of the more tragic sports stories out there. Who knows what she would have ended up achieving had she not gotten stabbed?

  1. If you’re going to combine men and women, and eras 50 years apart (neither makes much sense to me), then the women deserve the top 3 spots. All of them have records that are objectively better than Federer’s.

    Agree that the Seles stat is incredible.

  2. Apples and oranges, they shouldve done the best of women, and the best of men lists, anyway Serena, Steffi, Martina, Chris, Court, for the ladies, Roger, Rafa,Novak, Sampras, Laver for the men, in no particular order ….

  3. Best player ever should be based on the FIERCEST Competition you faced and not number of weeks at the top when there was limited to none competition. 2003-2007 there was no player who can challenge Federer as Nadal and Djoker were in teens. Sampras and Agassi faded. This explains 302 weeks at the top and 11 titles during the period. Nadal first evovled into an all court player and Djoker from 2011. Federer has always had trouble with these two players in best of 5. Federer has won 2 matches against Djoker since 2011 best of 5 and 1 against Nadal since 2007. Press, Federer fans never want to talk about this and live in a bubble. At best he has beaten Roddick, Baghdatis, 20 year old Nadal in a gruelling 5 setter at wimbledon..This was during most of his 302 reign..even if you want make the argument that Federer’s peak was over how can you explain peak form over since 2008 beginning when Nadal got his grove and then Djoker. To substantiate this argument when Djoker went away this year Federer won 2 slams again..Australian open see what happened last year semifinal against DJoker and Wimbledon in 2014 and 2015. Are you saying he got better..Even today he can beat anyone not named Djoker and Nadal. He won 1 match in best of 5 against Nadal and 2 against Djoker since 2011. You call him the best ever when he is not the best against his fiercest competition.
    Nadal won French when he was 18. Federer won his first slam when he was 22 after Sampras retired..Going by the same argument Nadal and Djoker precisely found groove at that age doing better before that..
    DOn’t hate the messenger also known as me but be rational..Take it from me, Fed will beat Murray or whoever on grass if Djoker doesnt come back..He butchered Murray in 2015 and Djoker showed him who is the boss in finals..He butchered Wawrinka in 2015 US OPEN and again Djoker prevailed..BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE but just dont be a fanboy and skew history..

    • Also, I am a huge fan of Nadal and doesn’t like Djoker but Djoker is the best player ever on all surfaces..He is just a beast and the match is always on his racket..His 12 slams came when the other so called greats were still effective..

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