Who are the Greatest Tennis Players of All Time?

best tennis player in history
Not an easy question to answer, granted. But we're going to put forward what we consider to be some truly worthy competitors for the title of best tennis player in history. What do you think?

Contents

rafa nadal

With the legendary Rafal Nadal currently holding court at the Madrid Open, and the dynamics of ‘the sport of kings’ hitting the big screen courtesy of Luca Guadagino’s Challengers, Tennis fever has gripped the world once again.

In fact, here in the digital age, the sport has experienced a substantial boost in popularity. The rise of online streaming and live broadcasts has captured a new generation of digitally-engaged audiences, demystifying tennis and ensuring that it remains relevant with the changing times. Meanwhile, superstar players like Serena Williams have achieved the kind of celebrity status typically reserved for A-list movie stars, becoming embedded in modern pop culture in the process. It’s also never been easier to follow the game as a punter, with online betting opportunities like the tennis Oddschecker markets providing bettors with up to the minute odds on all the Grand Slams and major tennis events.

But one debate remains unsettled (and arguably unsettlable!). Just who are the greatest tennis players to have ever graced the court? Let’s talk about it.

tennis racket and ball

Fresh Tennis Talent

A quick glance at the ATP and WTA rankings is proof that tennis continues to fascinate as both a competitive discipline and a spectator sport. Some of the top-ranking talents right now are clocking in with less than a quarter of a century of life behind them: Novak Djokovic is the odd one out in the top 3 ATP rankings, with the combined age of Italy’s Jannik Sinner and former World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz being just 8 years more than the age of the man himself. Meanwhile 20-year-old US player Coco Guff (World #3) is snapping at the heels of Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who herself is also just 22 years old.

The Tennis GOATs

As exciting as it is to watch new talent rising through the ranks, it’s also important to recognise those veteran champions who’ve played defining roles in making the sport the world dominating industry that it is today. The following remarkable athletes have etched their names into history with their achievements.

Novak Djokovic

Years Active – 2003 to present

Country – Serbia 

Speaking of Novak Djokovic, the current World No. 1 still dominates the sport despite being over 20 years into his professional career. Known for his well-balanced, all court game and mental resilience, Djokovic has racked up a phenomenal 24 Grand Slam singles titles in the men’s division — a current world record — including no less than ten title wins at the Australian Open. Truly one of the most formidable players in the history of the sport, his ability to outlast opponents almost half his age in grueling matches speaks to his consistency and dedication.

Roger Federer

Years Active – 1998 to 2022

Country: Switzerland

Roger Federer’s career has been nothing short of legendary. With a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, including eight Wimbledon championships, Federer’s elegant style and effortless grace both on and off the court made him a pioneer in the fashion industry as much as the sports world. Federer’s ability to adapt his game and maintain a high level of performance well into his 30s stands a testament to his unparalleled skill and dedication.

Steffi Graf

Years Active – 1982 to 1999

Country – Germany

Steffi Graf may have retired before the current WTA world number 1 was born, but she’s nevertheless an exceptional tennis player who deserves her place in the hall of fame. Graf’s incredible athleticism and versatility made her one of the most dominant and thrilling players in the history of women’s tennis. With 22 Grand Slam singles titles, including seven Wimbledon championships and four Australian Open titles, she holds the record for the second-most titles won since the open era (1968). Not only that, but Graf is currently the only player, male or female, to have achieved the ‘Golden Grand Slam’ of all four majors and an Olympic Gold in 1988.

Serena Williams

Years active – 1995 to 2022

Country: USA

Together, the Williams sisters changed the face of tennis and while Venus is certainly no slouch in the legendary status department, when it comes to being the Greatest of All Time, there’s yet to be another female player who can hold a candle to Serena Williams.

William’s impact on tennis is immeasurable. Counting a huge 23 Grand Slam singles titles in her trophy cabinet, she’s dominated the sport like few others and spent a phenomenal 319 weeks in the No. 1 spot. Known for her powerful serve, Serena Williams’ athleticism and resilience in the face of discrimination continues to inspire women the world over.

What’s your take?

We’ve named just a few here and frankly, even when we discussed this at OSL HQ we couldn’t agree. So, over to you. Who’s your pick for greatest tennis player in history?

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