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Top 12 Greatest Tennis Players of All Time

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The sport of Tennis flourished in the 1970s and at that point, tennis, especially in the United States, started to shift from being a sport for the affluent to being more of a mainstream sport. The rivalries on and off the court were fueled by characters like Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, and others. Many outstanding and best tennis players have come and gone since then. Because of technological advancements and excellent physical standards, comparing athletes from different eras in any sport can be challenging.

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Medvedev’s most challenging competitor, Novak Djokovic, was practically invincible in 2021, his prime year. When Medvedev defeated Djokovic at the US Open in September of last year, the frequently hailed greatest player ever was in contention for a calendar Grand Slam.

Serena Williams, the current major championship record holder of the Open Era, is an essential component of every GOAT list. Williams has approximately 40 notable books under her belt, and an Oscar-winning film about her family was just released last year, further enhancing her cultural significance. However, Naomi Osaka holds the status of being the sport’s richest female athlete.

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I believe that most fans can agree that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are three of the finest players to ever compete at this time. So let’s look at the top 12 Best Tennis players of all time:

Top 12 Best Tennis Players of All Time 

Rank Tennis Player
1 (Tie) Serena Williams (USA) / Margarate Court (Australia)
2 Rafael Nadal (Spain)
3 Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
4 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
5 Steffi Graf (Germany)
6 Martina Narvatilova (USA)
7 Helen Wills (USA)
8 Don Budge (USA)
9 Pete Sampras (USA)
10  Billie Jean King (USA)
11 Rod Laver (Australia)
12 Jimmy Connors (USA)

Jimmy Connors (USA)

Jimmy Connors (USA) best tennis player - KreedOn
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In 1974, Jimmy Connors won all three Grand Slam competitions where he was permitted to compete in, and his 93-4 record is among the best in Open Era history. He won the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. He defeated Ken Rosewall in both of the last two finals by scores of 6-1, 6-1, 6-4, and 6-1, 6-0, 6-1, displaying his exceptional dominance in those finals. Connors was disqualified from the French Open in 1974 for signing a contract to play for World Team Tennis at an inconvenient time, he was denied the opportunity to compete in a Grand Slam. He won a total of 8 grand slams in his career.

Rod Laver (Australia)

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Rod Laver has won an astounding 200 titles. The late Laver, who was the first of many great Australian tennis players, eventually had the center court at the Australian Open named in his honor.

He held the top spot in the world for seven straight years, staying there until 1970. Winning a Grand Slam twice a year, he is still the only player to do that. Laver’s 1969 achievement showed his domination over men’s tennis in general, not only over amateur men’s tennis. With a total of 11 major career titles to his name, he is one of the greatest Australian tennis players of all time.

Billie Jean King (USA)

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It was the year 1971 when King became the first female athlete to win $100,000 in awards in a calendar year. Later in the year 1973, she became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association. She persuaded her teammates to establish a players’ union, thus establishing the women’s league. She was a champion of the sport.

King won 39 major championships, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles. She also won seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups for the USA squad. She was the captain of the Federation Cup of the USA for three years.

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Pete Sampras (USA)

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Pete Sampras was the best on both hard and grass, holding the number one spot for six years. He started playing as a professional in 1988, and his career came to a close in 2002 at the US Open, which he won by beating his old opponent, Andre Agassi. Sampras finished his career with 14 major singles titles, which was a record at the time of his retirement. These triumphs included a then-record- seven Wimbledon victories, two Australian Open victories, and a joint Open Era record of five US Open victories.

Don Budge (USA)

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When Don Budge successfully won all four major championships in 1938, he became the first player to accomplish a Grand Slam. He defeated John Bromwich in the 1938 Australian Championships final with just seven games lost. Then, in the French Championships final, Budge defeated Roderich Menzel in less than an hour.

At Wimbledon, Budge displayed a similar level of dominance, sweeping through the competition without dropping a set and defeating Bunny Austin 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 in the championship match. Before dropping the second set of his routine, 6-3, 6-8, 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Gene Mako in the finals, Budge had not dropped a set in the U.S. championships.

The reason he is so well-known is that he was the first tennis player, male or female, and the first American male, to win the Grand Slam and all four Grand Slam competitions in a row. After Fred Perry, Budge was the second man to complete the career Grand Slam, and he is still the youngest person to do it. He won a total of 10 major titles.

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Helen Wills (USA

Image Source- New York Times

Wills managed to win every single set she played between 1926 and 1932 while holding the title of women’s number one for eight years in the 1920s and 1930s. She won two gold medals at the Paris Olympics in 1924. She also won seven US Open titles and eight Wimbledon titles. Throughout her career, she won 31 Grand Slam event titles in the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles divisions, including 19 singles crowns. She held the record with eight victories until Martina Navratilova broke her record and won her ninth Wimbledon title in 1990.

Martina Narvatilova (USA)

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Navratilova is the only player in history to have maintained the top spot in both categories for more than 200 weeks. She was ranked No. 1 in singles for a total of 332 weeks (second only to Steffi Graf) and in doubles for a record 237 weeks. Navratilova is one of only three tennis players, along with Margaret Court and Doris Hart, to have completed a career Grand Slam in singles, same-sex doubles, and mixed doubles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the title a record nine times. She is regarded as one of the best tennis players and won a record of major titles 18 times. 

Steffi Graf (Germany)

best Tennis Players of All Time- KreedOn
Image Source- Hindustan Times

Graf was a picture of consistency as she held the top spot for a total of 377 weeks, the longest streak of any player. She was successful on all court surfaces, and in 1988 she became the first athlete to complete a calendar Golden Slam by winning the Olympic Gold and all four major championships.

1988 was not Steffi Graf’s finest year in terms of winning percentage, despite her 73-3 match record. Graf’s accomplishments at the 1988 major events made an impact. Graf only achieved one Grand Slam victory in 1987, falling short at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She won three major titles in 1989 but fell to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the thrilling French Open finals in three sets. If Graf had prevailed, her 1989 season might have been regarded as the greatest and most dominant in history. Graf was serving for the match at 5-3 in the third set of the match. But 1989 does not even make the list of Graf’s most impressive seasons because she lost 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, and 7-5. She won a total of 22 major titles.

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Roger Federer (Switzerland)

Image Source- Hindustan Times

Federer, who is already in his 40s, has been hailed as the greatest player ever for many years. Twenty grand slam victories are nothing to sneeze at, despite being limited by a few injuries in recent years. Only Roger Federer’s defeat in the French Open finals kept him from winning a Grand Slam in 2006. He held the top spot in the global rankings for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for 310 weeks, including a record 237 straight weeks, and five times at the end of the year. His 103 ATP singles titles rank second all-time behind Jimmy Connors. He has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, an Open Era record of eight Wimbledon titles for men, an Open Era record of five US Open titles for men, and an unprecedented six Tour Finals. He is regarded as one of the best tennis players of all time.

Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

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After a protracted tie with Federer, Djokovic’s most recent victory at Wimbledon moves him up to position five on the list and into second place in men’s history. He was virtually untouchable in his prime and has won 87 championships in close to two decades of playing the game.

Three of the four Grand Slam competitions were won by Novak Djokovic in 2011, and he finished the year with a 70-6 match record. Due to injury, Djokovic was forced to surrender two of the defeats before the match was finished. He also set records seven times as the year’s final leader while dominating the world rankings for 373 weeks.

He has won a record nine Australian Open titles in addition to 21 Grand Slam men’s singles victories overall. He has a total of 88 ATP singles championships, including a record-breaking 64 Big Titles and 38 Masters victories. The non-calendar year Grand Slam in singles was achieved by Djokovic, who is now the only player in tennis history to hold the titles of the four majors simultaneously on three distinct surfaces.

Rafael Nadal (Spain)

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The men’s record holder for Grand Slam victories is The King of Clay, who has 22. With a total of 14 at Roland Garros, more than half of those are a result of his domination on clay. Nadal has been a professional for more than 20 years and has won 92 titles so far. For 209 weeks and five times at the end of the year, he has been ranked first in the entire world.

With 22 Grand Slam, including a record 14 in the French Open, Nadal holds the record for the most men’s singles Grand Slam titles. He has 92 ATP singles titles under his belt, including 36 Masters titles, 63 of which he has won on clay. Only two men including Nadal have achieved the Career Golden Slam in singles. The longest winning streak in the Open Era has been his 81 straight victories on clay.

Margarate Court (Australia)- Tie

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There is a tie between Margarate Court and Serena Williams for the number 1 spot on the best tennis players of all time list. She holds a record of 24 major singles titles and 64 major titles including 19 doubles and 19 mixed doubles victories, the most in tennis history. Her triumph at Wimbledon in 1963, at the age of 21, allowed her to complete a career grand slam. After a brief break in 1966 and 1967, Court resumed playing until the Open Era began in 1968.

In 1970, she won all four major singles tournaments, capping off a run of six straight major singles triumphs that saw her complete the Grand Slam. She gave birth to her first child in 1972, although she later made a comeback to tennis. In 1973, she won three Grand Slam singles championships. She took comparable pauses after the birth of her second and third child and quit the sport in 1977.

Serena Williams (USA) – Tie

Image Source- New York Times

Williams holds the record for most major titles earned during the Open Era with more than 20 Grand Slam singles victories, 14 Grand Slam doubles victories with sister Venus, and two mixed doubles victories. She has won 23 major championships over an amazing 18-year span, and she recently retired from the court on September 4. She held the top singles ranking in the world for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 straight weeks. She also finished the year as the top player five times. Her 23 Grand Slam singles titles rank second behind Margaret Court’s 24. Williams is regarded as one of the all-time best women’s tennis players. On the women’s professional tennis tour, the Williams sisters’ entry is thought to have ushered in a new age of power and athleticism.

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