Are you a fan of tennis? Do you want to know who the best players of all time are? Then check out this blog post! We countdown the top 10 best tennis players of all time, so you can see for yourself who deserves the title of best of the best.
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In tennis, as in any sport, greatness is subjective. However, there are those players who have so thoroughly dominated the competition and set such a high standard for the sport that they are universally considered to be the best of the best. The following is a list of the top 10 tennis players of all time, based on their achievements on the court and their impact on the sport.
1. Roger Federer
2. Rafael Nadal
3. Novak Djokovic
4. Pete Sampras
5. Rod Laver
6. Björn Borg
7. Arthur Ashe
8. Jimmy Connors
9. Ivan Lendl
10. John McEnroe
Few athletes in any sport have achieved the level of sustained excellence that Roger Federer has in tennis. The Swiss maestro has been ranked No. 1 in the world for a record 310 weeks, and he’s won a men’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
Born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1981, Federer began playing tennis at age 8. He turned pro in 1998, and by 2003 he had established himself as one of the sport’s top stars, winning his first Wimbledon singles title that year. The following year, he became the first Swiss man to win the Australian Open singles crown—a feat he would repeat four more times over the next decade. In 2006, Federer attained the No. 1 world ranking for the first time and went on to capture a second consecutive Wimbledon singles title.
The following year was perhaps Federer’s best ever: He won three of the four Grand Slam tournaments (the French Open was his only loss), captured a record-setting 12th consecutive Davis Cup singles win for Switzerland and was again ranked No. 1 at year’s end. In early 2009, after winning his sixth Australian Open singles crown, Federer briefly surrendered his No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal; however, he regained the top spot later that year after Nadal was sidelined with an injury. That April also saw Federer reach another milestone when he became the first man ever to win 500 matches on both clay and hard courts.
Rafa Nadal has accomplished a great deal in his young career. Nadal has won 19 Grand Slams, including an unprecedented 13 French Opens. He’s been ranked #1 in the world for a total of 209 weeks and currently holds the record for the most weeks at #1 in the history of the ATP rankings (men’s tennis).
Djokovic is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 1 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He is the first Serbian player to be ranked No. 1 by the ATP and has held the ranking for a total of Thomastik-Infeld CF 128 gut 2000 hours. Djokovic has won 16 Grand Slam singles titles, five ATP Finals titles, 32 Masters 1000 series titles, 13 ATP Tour 500 tournaments, and has reached the semifinals of all four Grand Slams.
Pete Sampras is an American tennis legend who dominated the courts in the 1990s. He was born on August 12, 1971, in Washington, D.C. Sampras’ family moved to California when he was three years old, and it was there that he first picked up a tennis racket.
Sampras turned pro in 1988, and by 1990, he was ranked No. 3 in the world. He won his first Grand Slam singles title at the U.S. Open that year, defeating rival Andre Agassi in the final. Sampras went on to win 14 more Grand Slam singles titles over the course of his career, including a record-tying seven Wimbledon crowns. He retired from tennis in 2002 with a then-record 64 singles titles to his credit.
In 2007, Sampras was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He remains one of the most successful and popular tennis players of all time.
Björn Borg is a former world No. 1 tennis player from Sweden who is widely considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Between 1974 and 1981, he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles, including five consecutive Wimbledon championships. He also won three straight French Open titles and was the first man to win two Wimbledon singles titles back-to-back. Borg retired from tennis at the age of 26, but made a brief comeback in 1991. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Australian Rod Laver is considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time. In a career that spanned the 1950s and 1960s, Laver won 11 Grand Slam tournaments and two Pro Slams. He is the only player in history to win two Grand Slams in a single year – a feat he accomplished twice, first in 1962 and again in 1969. In all, Laver amassed an impressive 200 tournament wins during his career.
Jimmy Connors is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. He held the top ranking for a then-record 160 consecutive weeks from 1974 to 1977 and a further 102 weeks from 1978 to 1983. By virtue of his longer stay at the top, he is considered one of the greatest in tennis history. Connors won eight Grand Slam singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles with fellow American Arthur Ashe. He also won a record five US Open singles titles in 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1983. Connors appeared in nine consecutive Wimbledon finals (1974–82), a record until it was eclipsed by Roger Federer’s 10 in 2017. His 18 wins – detailed below – are also a record.
Ivan Lendl is a former world No. 1 professional tennis player and is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time. He was born in Czechoslovakia and became a United States citizen in 1992. He won eight Grand Slam singles titles and was the World No. 1 for 270 weeks. Lendl reached at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years (a record), won at least one Masters series title for 13 consecutive years, and compiled an Open Era-record 94 titles overall.
John Patrick McEnroe Jr. (born February 16, 1959) is an American former professional tennis player. He was known for his shot-making artistry and superb volleying; for his famous rivalries with Björn Borg and Jimmy Connors; and for his controversial on-court behavior that frequently landed him in trouble with umpires and tennis authorities.
During his career, he won 77 ATP-listed singles titles and seven Grand Slam singles titles: three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open. In 1981, 1983, and 1984 he won both Wimbledon and the US Open Singles titles, making him only the second man ever to win both tournaments in the same year on three separate occasions, after Rod Laver. He also helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1979 and 1981.
McEnroe is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player. He was ranked in the world’s Top 10 for 16 of its 20 years from 1981 to 2000. He remains one of only four men (the others being Connors, Federer, Nadal) to have won over 100 tour-level titles (109) since 1967 (amateur era), when Open Tennis began giving players credit for professional tournament victories).