Over the years, tennis has produced many icons.
Is it great Rod Laver and Court Margaret from an early age or so John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras, Andrew Agassi and Chris Evert after that, the sport always had someone redefining the way the game was played and drawing their legacy with sheer brilliance.
Here’s a look at some stars that have transcended time and are undoubtedly one of them the best tennis players in the world.
No list of tennis greats is complete without him. After turning professional in 1998, Mr. Roger Federer hypnotized the tennis world with his silky touch and breathtaking play that saw him win 20 Grand Slam titles, a record matched only by his fiercest rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam in 2003 at Wimbledon. Victory Andy Roddick the semi-final was followed by a comfortable three-set win Brand Philippoussis for the title.
Over the years, the Swiss ace has mastered the art of winning Grand Slam titles and Wimbledon grass is his favorite surface. Roger Federer won eight titles at Wimbledon, which is a record.
Thanks to his performances, he often climbed to the top of the tennis rankings. Roger Federer holds the world number one spot for 310 weeks in his career. The Swiss ace was also at the top for the most consecutive weeks with 237.
Federer has over 1,000 ATP Tour wins to his credit. He reached his turning point at the Brisbane International in 2015, making him only the third man in the Open Era to have 1,000 or more wins along with Jimmy Connors and Iwan Lendl.
Add to that two Olympic medals – gold in men’s doubles in Beijing 2008 and silver in singles in London 2012 – Roger Federer is one of the best tennis players in the world.
If there’s anyone who can rival Roger Federer’s achievements, it’s his closest friend off the court, Rafael Nadal.
Born in Mallorca, Spain, Southpaw turned professional in 2001 and won his first Grand Slam in 2005 at the French Open.
After leading Spain to a Davis Cup title as a teenager the year before and dominating the clay court season (winning 24 straight singles matches), Nadal was already a hot spot ahead of his French Open debut.
The Spaniard showed his basic prowess by best scoring Roger Federer in the semi-finals before defeating Mariano Puerta in the final. He still became only the second man to win Roland Garros in his maiden rehearsal after Mats Wilander in 1982
Nadal’s association with the French Open continued over the years, winning a record Roland Garros title 14 times. In 2010, he became the only player in the men’s circuit to win a Grand Slam tournament on all three surfaces in a calendar year, winning the French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
Clay is Rafael Nadal’s favorite surface. The Spaniard has the longest single-surface winning streak with 81 wins on clay in the open era, and holds the record for the most clay court titles (60).
Nadal also won the Monte-Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open – both clay court events – a record 11 times.
The Spaniard’s mesmerizing form has also helped Spain win the Davis Cup title five times (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2019). Nadal also won the Olympic crown by winning the men’s singles title in Beijing 2008 and the gold medal in men’s doubles in Rio 2016.
A relatively new player in this legendary big boy league, Serbia Novak Djokovic carved out a place among the best tennis players in the world.
After turning professional in 2003, it took Djokovic five years to win a Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open. Djoker, as he was affectionately known, now has 20 Grand Slam titles, five ATP Finals titles and 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles – a record – in addition to his 85 tournament wins.
Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times and is the only male tennis player in the Open Era to achieve double Grand Slams in his career – winning each of the four major tournaments at least twice.
Another player who loves to rely on his core game and powerful serve, Novak Djokovic is only the second male player – after Rod Laver – to win all four Grand Slam titles in one go. The Serbian achieved this feat by winning Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015, before triumphing at the Australian Open and French Open the following year.
In 2018, the Serbian also completed the Career Golden Masters by winning all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, winning the Cincinnati Masters.
Djokovic’s consistent performances have often propelled him to the top of the world rankings. He is currently number 1 in the world and has already eclipsed Roger Federer as the player with the most weeks as the best tennis player in the world.
Serena Williams she left no stone unturned to create for herself a legacy of triumphs and records.
Although the American great officially turned professional in 1995 at the age of 14, Serena Williams could not compete freely for long, given the age restrictions the WTA placed on professional tennis players.
Her first years as a pro were spent competing in a select few events that gave her a wild card, but Serena Williams soon picked up the pace.
In 1999, 17-year-old Serena Williams became only the second African American to win the US Open title after Althea Gibson in 1958 and within three years completed a calendar Slam with some amazing performances.
A player gifted with brute strength and a clever understanding of the game, Serena Williams is unique. The American relies heavily on her strong and consistent serves and uses hard groundstrokes – both forehand and backhand – in her game to test her opponents. It was this style that helped her stay relevant among three generations.
The American has won the maximum number of Grand Slam titles (23) in the Open era in women’s play and is aiming to equal Court Margaret(24) record.
Her hunger for success also translated to the Olympic pitch, with Serena Williams proving to be a force to be reckoned with along with her sister Venus Williams.
While the younger Williams sister has one Olympic singles gold medal from London in 2012, the two won three doubles titles together at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Games.
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, only behind Steffi Graf (377) and Martina Navratilova (332).
After turning professional in 1982, Germany Steffi Graf she was someone the world adored for her style of play, which mixed fast footwork and powerful ground strikes in equal proportions.
Her versatility and ability to adapt to any surface made her one of the most successful players of her generation, which is why Graf dominated women’s tennis in the early years of the Open Era. It is believed that it was Steffi Graf who made the basic game popular with later greats such as Serena Williams.
The German has won 22 Grand Slam titles, a record later broken by Serena Williams, and is the only player in history to complete a Golden Slam – a run that includes winning four Grand Slam titles and Olympic gold in the same season. Steffi Graf achieved this feat in 1988.
Steffi Graf wins the Golden Slam in Seoul 1988
Moreover, Steffi Graf, along with Margaret Court, are the only two players to complete a calendar Grand Slam tournament five times in their careers, winning in 1988, 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996.
Steffi Graf first rose to No. 1 in the world rankings in 1987 and was the undisputed queen of tennis until 1990. In 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 gem. While most tennis greats have often been successful in singles, the Czechoslovak-born American is one of the few who has done well in both singles and doubles.
In fact, Martina Navratilova is the only female tennis player to top the list in both singles and doubles for more than 200 weeks.
During her tennis journey that began in 1975 and lasted until 2006, Martina Navratilova ensured that she would leave a lasting legacy that would inspire the next generation.
Whether it’s her 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles – a record – or 10 mixed doubles majors, Martina Navratilova is someone who entertains viewers with her charm and finesse, often relying on her serve and volley game of decimating opponents.
In a career that spanned more than three decades, the American competitor was well known for reinventing her game, and in the later stages of her career, she often pushed her partners to go the extra mile in their quest for glory.
In her prime, Martina Navratilova was often the No. 1 player in the world, spending a total of 332 weeks at the top, and her longest reign was 156 weeks, only behind the record held by Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.