Over the years, tennis fans have marveled at a number of outstanding individual players.
Among all the stars talented to conquer the tennis circuit, there has long been a debate around which player is the best to ever grace the court.
So, in honor of this year’s Wimbledon, which has just begun, we thought it was the perfect time to settle the greatest debate of all time once and for all.
With so many outstanding players to choose from, we’ve crafted a Tiermaker to separate the greats from the GOAT.
How will this work?
Our list includes 20 players in total, divided into five categories.
Both male and female players have been included, although there is no attempt to compare each woman’s accomplishments with the respective men in the list.
As a result, we’ve chosen a male and a female in our top category, to crown both the biggest male star and the best female player of all time.
It should also be clarified that while we are confident in our ranking here, it is purely subjective and some of you may not agree with our list.
But enough blabla. Check out our list below and decide for yourselves:
Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors
It’s important to point out that every tennis star on this list is among the best to ever play the game, but in the case of this category, those players may well consider themselves unhappy for not having won more.
Connors has won more titles overall than any man in the Open era, but as everyone knows, it’s all about Grand Slams. Although the American has won eight majors in total, he could easily have had more.
The same goes for Lendl, who was world number one for 270 weeks in the 1980s but won only eight of his 19 Grand Slam finals.
Meanwhile, both Hingis and Seles were dominant early in their careers and won multiple major titles as teenagers.
Still, Hingis was hampered by problems and injuries off the pitch and Seles was sadly stabbed on the pitch and never fully recovered.
Hall of fame
Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg
Borg’s dominance in the late 1970s was nothing short of extraordinary. The Swedish star won five Wimbledon titles in a row, including an epic win over John McEnroe in 1980. However, he ultimately failed to win the Australian Open and the US Open.
Agassi, however, has had no such problems –– completing career Grand Slams and earning over $31m (£25.2m) in prize money during his career. In total, the American won eight Grand Slams and a singles gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Henin came awfully close to finishing a career Grand Slam herself, but lost in two Wimbledon finals. Nonetheless, the Belgian was perhaps the best female player to ever step onto a clay court and won four French Open titles in five years.
Likewise, Venus Williams also excelled on one particular surface –– winning five Wimbledon titles during the 2000s.
Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, John McEnroe
Jean King was an outstanding tennis player in her own right, winning 12 Grand Slam singles titles. Yet the American is best known for her activism and for being a pioneer of equality and social justice.
Both Navratilova and Evert have won 18 major singles titles and hold several records between them. The former has won 59 Grand Slams in singles and doubles, while Evert is the only player to have won a major tournament 13 years in a row.
For a long time, Sampras held the record for most major titles won by a male player with 14, until the big three came along. Either way, he’s more than just a Hall of Famer and has often had the edge over longtime rival Agassi.
McEnroe enjoyed a thrilling rivalry with Connors and although he won fewer titles than his compatriot, his memorable brilliance on the pitch gives him iconic status.
Laver’s 198 singles titles are the most in tennis history and he is the only player to win the Golden Slam twice in his career. While his success came mostly in the amateur era, his dominance is still worth celebrating.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Margaret Court
Court holds the record for the most major titles won by a woman since 1973 and has claimed 24 in total.
Williams has been chasing that record for some time, but it remains one shy of the Aussie.
The 40-year-old is also the all-time leader in player prize money, having won nearly $100 million in her career so far.
Federer was considered the GOAT of men’s tennis for a while, but injuries in recent years have prevented him from adding to his 20 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic is tied with the Swiss star on 20 major wins and came close to winning the Golden Slam in 2021. While the Serbian hasn’t had a successful year so far, he’s the clear favorite to win a seventh title at Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal, Steffi Graf
Nadal looked like he would never win a Grand Slam again last year, but his comeback this year has been nothing short of remarkable.
The Spaniard rallied from two sets to beat Daniil Medvedev in an epic Australian Open final as he claimed victory at Roland Garros to claim his 14th French Open title.
Nadal now has 22 major wins in total — two more than Federer and Djokovic.
Graf, on the other hand, has fewer majors than Court and Williams, but is the only player to win the Golden Slam in the Open era.
The German was ranked number one for a record 377 weeks and achieved nearly all of her hits in the space of a decade.
If she hadn’t retired at just 30, it’s unclear how many titles she might have won.