The Top 5 Tennis Players of All Time

Published on 5 November 2023 at 13:33

Ever since the world’s first official tennis championship in 1877, tennis has been a sport played and enjoyed by millions of people all across the world. From the Australian Open to the US Open, many players have been competing for their respective trophies, all with different gameplans and abilities. 

These are the top five greats within the history of the sport, focusing upon their legacy and their successes throughout their long playing careers.

Number 5. Rod Laver


If you take a little history tour into some of the greatest, Rod “Rocket” Laver has to be regarded as one of the greatest tennis players from the past. The Australian player was ranked as the number one amateur in 1961 and 1962, before receiving the number one professional status in 1964 until 1970


He became only the second male tennis player to win the four main championships - Australian, French, British and US Open - in one year and the first player to repeat this feat. 


In 1971, he became the first player to earn a million dollars through prize money, retiring with 200 singles titles to his name in 1976.


The now 85-year-old would utilise his powerful left arm, earning him the “Rocket” nickname, and accuracy to his best ability in order to trap his opponents within the back corners of the court while using his speed to come towards the net and fire points past his opposition before they could react.


He is also the only player on this list to have had a tournament named after him in the form of the Laver Cup, which was created to honour his legacy within the sport.

Number 4. Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal could have earned this number four spot with his performances on clay alone, but his range of trophies are what separates him from some of the other greatest players in history. 


The Spanish player has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles, with a record 14 French Open titles and he has also achieved 92 ATP singles titles, with 63 of those being won on clay courts. 


His 81 consecutive wins on clay remains the longest single-surface win streak in the Open Era, truly cementing him as one of the greatest players on the surface. 


Nadal is so successful on clay courts because of how good his movement can be and the shots that he can play on the surface. Other players might find clay slippery to run on, which makes changing direction very difficult. 


He is able to get to shots that other players cannot reach, whilst also having a crazy level of topspin on his left-handed forehand shots, making it almost impossible for his competitors to return his hits. 


Nadal remains one of the only two men to complete the Career Golden Slam in singles, with Andre Agassi being the only other player with this achievement, which truly highlights his excellence within the sport.

Number 3. Roger Federer


Roger Federer was a really versatile all-court player, earning him the coveted third place in this list.


A prime Federer could play some of the greatest offensive strikes with a tennis racket, whilst also being great defensively when it was necessary. 


He became the only player to register ten different titles on three different surfaces, cementing him as one of the all time versatile greats with 71 hard-court titles, 19 grass-court titles and 11 clay-court titles. 


The retired Swiss player won a record eight Wimbledon titles, whilst also becoming the first ever player to acquire 20 men’s singles Grand Slams in 2018. 


Before his retirement in 2022, he held the record for the oldest ATP number one ranking at 36 years old and a record for the most consecutive weeks at the top with 236 weeks.

Number 2. Serena Williams


Much like Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams is one of two women to complete the Career Golden Slam in singles, but that is only a small part of her amazing career. 


Serena Williams will go down in history as one of the greatest women to grace the tennis courts, winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 doubles titles with her sister, Venus Williams.


She has also achieved three doubles gold medals at the Olympics with Venus Williams, with a large portion of their success being attributed to their parents, Richard Williams and Oracene Price. 


Her physique gives her an advantage when it comes to facing her female counterparts but it is her powerful serve that sets her apart from the rest. This serve has a great accuracy against her opponents, with her fastest serve speed being third in the all-time records at 128 mph. 


Serena has also won the Australian Open whilst being pregnant, which could be the greatest accomplishment in this article. 

Number 1. Novak Djokovic


It might not have been the biggest surprise in the world, but there is a reason why people consider Novak Djokovic to be the greatest tennis player of all time. 


The Serbian player can boast an all-time record of 24 Grand Slam men’s singles titles. He has been the world number one for 397 weeks, and has ended as the number one tennis player seven different times. 


What might be even more impressive about Djokovic is that even at the age of 36, he shows absolutely no sign of slowing down with his success. He seems to possess this never say die attitude, which must be so mentally draining for his opponents. 


His serve and power is unparalleled and he seems to still have bundles of energy when it comes to dispatching whoever is put in front of him. 


It seems like his greatest competition in his way at the moment is 20 year old Carlos Alcaraz, who seems determined to take the torch off the veteran and make his own legacy in the sport. Their biggest battle to date came in the 2023 Wimbledon final, with the young star winning three sets to Novak’s two.


His dominance in the sport is still prominent, with the player set to face Grigor Dimitrov in the Paris Masters final at 2pm today, looking for his 40th masters title in his career.


There truly have been some greats within this sport, with many up-and-coming stars looking to break the veteran’s records. Safe to say, the sport is only on the up. 

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