Over the years, tennis has produced many icons.
Whether it’s the big one Rod Laver and Court of Margaret from the first years or the tastes of John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Chris Evert later the sport always had someone to redefine the way the game was played and chart its legacy with brilliance.
Here is an overview of some stars who have stood the test of time and are undoubtedly part of the best tennis players in the world.
No list of tennis greats is complete without him. Turned professional in 1998, Roger Federer mesmerized the tennis world with his silky touch and jaw-dropping play that saw him win 20 Grand Slam titles, a record equaled only by his fiercest rivals – Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam in 2003 at Wimbledon. A victory over Andy Roddick in the semi-finals was followed by a comfortable victory in three sets against Marc Philippoussis for the title.
Over the years, the Swiss ace has mastered the art of Grand Slam victories, with Wimbledon grass being his favorite surface. Roger Federer has won as many as eight Wimbledon titles, a record.
His performance has seen him frequently rise to the top of the tennis rankings. Roger Federer held on to the world No. 1 spot for 310 weeks in his career. The Swiss ace has also been at the top for the most consecutive weeks – 237.
Federer has over 1,000 wins on the ATP Tour. He reached the landmark at the Brisbane International in 2015, making him the third man in the open era to have won 1,000 or more with Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.
Add to that two Olympic medals – gold in men’s doubles at Beijing 2008 and silver in singles at London 2012 – Roger Federer is one of the best tennis players in the world.
If there is anyone who can match the achievements of Roger Federer then it is his closest friend off the pitch, Rafael Nadal.
Born in Mallorca, Spain, the left-hander turned professional in 2001 and won his first-ever Grand Slam in 2005 at Roland-Garros.
After leading Spain to a Davis Cup title as a teenager a year prior, and with a dominant run in the clay-court season that year (he won 24 consecutive singles matches), Nadal was already a popular property before its Roland-Garros debut.
The Spaniard showed his grassroots prowess to beat top seed Roger Federer in the semis and then got the better of Mariano Puerta in the final. Nadal became only the second male player to win Roland Garros on his first attempt after Mats Wilander in 1982.
Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam at the 2005 French Open.
Photo courtesy of 2005 Getty Images
Nadal’s relationship with the French Open continued over the years, winning the Roland Garros title a record 14 times. In 2010, he became the only player on the men’s tour to win a Grand Slam on all three surfaces in a calendar year with wins at the French Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open.
Clay is Rafael Nadal’s favorite surface. The Spaniard had the longest winning streak on a single surface with 81 wins on clay in the Open Era and holds the record for most titles on clay (60).
Nadal has also won the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open – both clay-court events – a record 11 times.
The Spaniard’s fascinating form also helped Spain win the Davis Cup title five times (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2019). Nadal also claimed the Olympic crown with a victorious men’s singles run at Beijing 2008 and a men’s doubles gold medal at Rio 2016.
A relatively new entrant to this league of big boy legends, Serbia Novak Djokovic has earned a place among the best tennis players in the world.
Turning professional in 2003, Djokovic took five years to win a Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open. Djoker, as he is affectionately known, now has 20 Grand Slam titles, five ATP Finals crowns and 36 ATP Masters 1000 crowns to his name – a record – in addition to 85 titles won on the tour.
Novak Djokovic has also won the Australian Open a record nine times and is the only men’s tennis player in the Open era to achieve a career double Grand Slam – winning each of the four majors at least twice.
Another player who likes to rely on his basic game and powerful serves, Novak Djokovic is only the second male player – after Rod Laver – to win all four Grand Slam titles in one go. The Serb achieved that feat by winning Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015 and followed that up with triumphs at the Australian Open and French Open the following year.
In 2018, the Serbian also completed a Career Golden Masters by winning all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events with his win at the Cincinnati Masters.
Djokovic’s consistent performances have often seen him top the world rankings. He is the current world No. 1 and has already eclipsed Roger Federer as the player with the most weeks as the best tennis player in the world.
Serena Williams left no stone unturned to create a legacy filled with triumphs and records for herself.
Although the American great officially turned professional in 1995 at the age of 14, Serena Williams was unable to compete freely for long given the age limits the WTA imposed on professional tennis players.
Her early years as a professional were spent competing in a few select events that earned her wildcard entry, but Serena Williams quickly kicked into high gear.
In 1999, 17-year-old Serena Williams became only the second African-American woman to win the US Open title after Althea Gibson in 1958 and within three years completed a Slam schedule with prodigious performances.
A player with raw power and a shrewd understanding of the game, Serena Williams is unique. The American relies heavily on her powerful and consistent serves and puts her powerful groundstrokes into play – both forehand and backhand – to test her opponents. It’s this style that has helped her stay relevant across three generations.
The American great has won the maximum number of Grand Slam titles (23) in the Open era in women’s play and is aiming to match Court of Margaret(24) records.
Her thirst for success also translated to the Olympic field, with Serena Williams proving to be a force to be reckoned with along with her sister. Venus Williams.
While the younger of the Williams sisters won Olympic singles gold in London 2012, the two combined to bag three doubles titles at the Games in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
Serena Williams was the highest-ranked player in the WTA rankings eight times between 2002 and 2017, spending a total of 319 weeks as world No. 1, just behind Steffi Graf (377) and Martina Navratilova (332).
Turning professional in 1982, the German Steffi Graf was someone the world adored for his style of play that blended fast footwork and powerful groundstrokes in equal proportion.
Her versatility and ability to adapt to any playing surface made her one of the most successful players of her generation and that’s why Graf dominated women’s tennis in the early years of the game. ‘Open Era. It is believed that it was Steffi Graf who made the base game popular for later champions like Serena Williams to master.
The German has won 22 Grand Slam titles, a record Serena Williams later broke, and is the only player in history to complete a Golden Slam – a run that includes winning all four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold in the same season. Steffi Graf achieved this feat in 1988.
Moreover, Steffi Graf and Margaret Court are the only two players to have completed a Calendar Slam five times in their careers with the German’s wins in 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996.
Steffi Graf reached No. 1 in the world in 1987 and was the undisputed queen of tennis until 1990. During her career, she stayed at the top for 377 weeks, the most of any player – male or female – and shares the record for most consecutive weeks (186) as world No. 1 with Serena Williams.
Unlike other legends, Martina Navratilova is a rare pearl. While most tennis greats have often done well in singles, the Czechoslovakian-American is among the few to have done well in both singles and doubles.
In fact, Martina Navratilova is the only top ranked tennis player in singles and doubles for over 200 weeks.
For a tennis journey that began in 1975 and lasted until 2006, Martina Navratilova ensured to leave a lasting legacy to inspire the next generation.
Whether it’s her 18 Grand Slam singles titles or the 31 major women’s doubles titles – a record – or the 10 major titles in mixed doubles, Martina Navratilova is someone who has entertained spectators with her grace. and finesse, often relying on his serve and volley. game to decimate opponents.
Martina Navratilova has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles in a career spanning more than three decades.
Photo courtesy of 2016 Getty Images
In a career that spanned more than three decades, the American player was known for reinventing her game and, in the later stages of her career, often pushed her partners to go the extra mile in pursuit of glory.
At her peak, Martina Navratilova was often the world No. 1 player on the tour, spending a total of 332 weeks at the top with her longest reign of 156 weeks, only behind the record of Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.