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Greatest Tennis Players Of All Time: Game, Set, Icons

As with any sport, tennis players, both beginners and experienced, often look up to the giants that come before them, which often raises the question, who are the greatest tennis players of all time?

Tennis has witnessed the rise of many exceptional athletes throughout its history. From their skill and prowess on the court to their impact on the game, these individuals have left an indelible mark on the world of tennis. 

These icons of the sport have dominated the game during their respective eras and redefined what it means to be a tennis player.

Their records, championships, and legacies inspire generations, making them true legends in tennis sports. We will make things more interesting by discussing the greatest female and male tennis players separately. That would be fair.

Top 10 Greatest Male Tennis Players Of All Time 

1. Roger Federer

  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Date of Birth: August 8, 1981
  • Grand Slam Titles: 20
  • Status: Active

With 20 Grand Slam singles titles, including 8 Wimbledon championships, 6 Australian Open titles, 5 U.S. Open victories, and a French Open triumph, Federer’ is one of the best tennis players. In addition, he held the world No. 1 ranking for a record 310 weeks.

Federer’s playing style, characterized by graceful movement, impeccable shot-making, and an elegant one-handed backhand, has redefined the sport’s aesthetic. Roger remains on this list despite his fierce rivalry with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

2. Pete Sampras

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: August 12, 1971
  • Grand Slam Titles: 14
  • Status: Retired (2002)

Pete Sampras is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and for good reason. After moving to southern California in 1978, Sampras took up tennis and quickly rose through the ranks to become a dominant force in the sport. 

He achieved remarkable success throughout his career, winning seven Wimbledon singles championships, five U.S. Open titles, and two Australian Open championships. 

Although Sampras could not secure a win at the French Open, his accomplishments in other Grand Slam tournaments cannot be overlooked. 

His dominance of professional tennis during the 1990s is unrivaled, placing him alongside his boyhood idol, Rod Laver, as one of the greatest players ever.

3. Rafael Nadal 

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Date of Birth: June 3, 1986
  • Grand Slam Titles: 20
  • Status: Active

With at least one major victory for 10 consecutive years and 15 years overall, Nadal holds the record in men’s tennis for consistency and longevity at the highest level. 

His dominance is also evident in the number of titles he has won at various ATP Tour levels. Nadal has the most titles at three levels: Grand Slam Tournaments, Masters 1000, and ATP 500. 

With an impressive 14 French Open titles, 11 Monte Carlo Masters titles, and 12 Barcelona ATP 500 titles. Nadal has won a remarkable 92 ATP titles in his career, including 36 Masters titles.

4. Ken Rosewall

  • Nationality: Australian
  • Date of Birth: November 2, 1934
  • Grand Slam Titles: 8
  • Status: Retired (1980)

As an Australian former world top-ranking professional tennis player, Rosewall’s talent and skill on the court were unparalleled. 

He secured impressive 147 singles titles throughout his career, which included a record-breaking 15 Pro Majors and eight Grand Slam titles. Rosewall earned an astounding 23 titles in both professional and amateur majors. 

Not only did he excel in singles, but he also dominated in doubles, winning 15 Pro Majors and nine Grand Slam doubles titles. These exceptional accomplishments solidify Rosewall’s status as the greatest tennis player ever.

5. Novak Djokovic

  • Nationality: Serbian
  • Date of Birth: May 22, 1987
  • Grand Slam Titles: 20
  • Status: Active

Novak Djokovic’s remarkable achievements and dominance in tennis make him a strong contender for the title of the greatest tennis player ever. With a current ranking of world No. 2 in singles, Djokovic’s talent and skill are undeniable. 

He holds the record for being ranked ATP world No. 1 for 389 weeks, surpassing any other player in history. 

Furthermore, Djokovic’s record of finishing as the ATP year-end No. 1 a record seven times further cements his claim as the greatest. 

In addition to his incredible records and statistics, Djokovic’s all-around game is truly exceptional. He possesses a devastating combination of power, agility, and precision, allowing him to excel on any surface.

6. Andre Agassi

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: April 29, 1970
  • Grand Slam Titles: 8
  • Status: Retired (2006)

As a former world No. 1, Agassi’s dominance on the court is undeniable. With eight major championships, his ability to consistently perform at the highest level is remarkable.

 Furthermore, Agassi’s Olympic gold medal and seven runner-up finishes in other majors further solidified his status as a tennis legend. 

His skill, determination, and resilience have left an indelible mark on the sport, making Andre Agassi a name that will forever be associated with greatness in tennis.

7. Rod Laver

  • Nationality: Australian
  • Date of Birth: August 9, 1938
  • Grand Slam Titles: 11
  • Status: Retired (1979)

Rodney George Laver dominated the tennis world as the top professional player for five consecutive years, from 1965 to 1969, and some sources even suggest he held that position in 1964 and 1970. 

Additionally, he was ranked as the number 1 amateur in 1961 and 1962. Laver’s greatness stems from his unmatched consistency and skill throughout the 1960s, conquering amateur and professional circuits. 

His ability to maintain excellence for an extended period places him among the tennis elite. Laver’s exceptional talent, versatility, and remarkable achievements continue to approve his legacy as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

8. Björn Borg

  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Date of Birth: June 6, 1956
  • Grand Slam Titles: 11
  • Status: Retired (1993)

Björn Rune Borg is a legendary Swedish tennis player who reached the pinnacle of the sport from 1974 to 1981. 

He achieved a remarkable feat in the Open Era, winning 11 Grand Slam singles titles, a record that still stands today. 

His incredible success included six triumphs at the French Open and five consecutive victories at Wimbledon. 

What makes Björn Rune Borg one of the greatest players of all time is his winning four consecutive French Open titles and boasting a perfect 6-0 record in French Open finals.

9. Ivan Lendl

  • Nationality: Czech-American
  • Date of Birth: March 7, 1960
  • Grand Slam Titles: 8
  • Status: Retired (1994)

Ivan Lendl stands tall as a tennis legend. Many see him as one of the best. Lendl ruled the tennis world as the top-ranked singles player for 270 weeks. 

He also celebrated victory in 94 singles tournaments. What sets Lendl apart as one of the greatest players of all time? His consistent dominance and numerous titles prove his exceptional skill.

10. Jimmy Connors

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: September 2, 1952
  • Grand Slam Titles: 8
  • Status: Retired (1996)

James Scott Connors, an American retired tennis champ, once ranked No. 1 for 160 weeks from 1974 to 1977. He amassed 268 weeks in the top spot throughout his career. 

What sets James apart as one of the all-time greats is not just his incredible consistency at the pinnacle of the sport but also his fierce determination and unmatched competitiveness on the court. 

He was a force to be reckoned with, always pushing himself to the limit and challenging his opponents.

Top 10 Greatest Female Tennis Players of All Time

1. Serena Williams

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: September 26, 1981
  • Grand Slam Titles: 23
  • Status: Active

With an impressive record of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Serena holds the most in the Open Era. Her career, which spanned over two decades, is a testament to her consistent high-level play. 

One of Serena’s remarkable attributes is her versatility on different court surfaces, winning Grand Slams on hardcourt, grass, and clay. Aside from her Grand Slam victories, Serena’s achievements extend to the Olympics, where she has won 4 gold medals. 

What sets Serena apart is her ability to remain a top-ranked player even in her 30s, defying age and maintaining her competitive edge. 

Her success also means earning the highest prize in women’s tennis, highlighting her financial accomplishments. 

However, what truly sets Serena apart is her advocacy for gender equality and empowerment. Her voice and actions have left a lasting impact on and off the court.

2. Martina Navratilova

  • Nationality: Czech-American
  • Date of Birth: October 18, 1956
  • Grand Slam Titles: 18 (singles)
  • Status: Retired (2006)

Martina Navratilova is undoubtedly one of the greatest female tennis players in history. With a record of 18 major singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles, she holds 59 major titles, the highest in the Open Era. 

Navratilova’s incredible achievements on the court have solidified her status as a tennis legend. Navratilova’s dominance and consistency throughout her career have made her a true icon of women’s tennis. 

3. Chris Evert

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: December 21, 1954
  • Grand Slam Titles: 18
  • Status: Retired (1989)

Chris Evert has a record of 18 Grand Slam singles titles and a remarkable 260 weeks as a top-ranked player. Her ability to adapt her game to different court surfaces sets Evert apart, which has seen her excel on both clay and hard courts. 

Her intense rivalry with Martina Navratilova is legendary and has left an indelible mark on tennis history. Evert’s success extends beyond Grand Slam victories, as she secured over 150 professional titles throughout her career. 

Known for her unwavering composure and focus during critical moments, Evert consistently demonstrated mental strength that was unmatched by her opponents. Moreover, Evert’s charitable efforts and contributions have had a profound impact beyond the court.

4. Martina Hingis

  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Date of Birth: September 30, 1980
  • Grand Slam Titles: 5 (singles)
  • Status: Retired (2007)

Martina Hingis, a retired Swiss professional tennis player, holds a unique position in the history of the tennis sport. 

She is renowned for being the first-ever Swiss player to secure a major title and achieve the world No. 1 ranking. Hingis’ outstanding achievements on the court have cemented her status as one of the greatest tennis players ever. 

Her exceptional skills, strategic gameplay, and remarkable consistency have set her apart from her peers.

5. Monica Seles

  • Nationality: American (formerly Yugoslavian)
  • Date of Birth: December 2, 1973
  • Grand Slam Titles: 9
  • Status: Retired (2008)

Monica Seles, a tennis legend, achieved the coveted world No. 1 ranking during her remarkable career, playing for Yugoslavia and the United States. She etched her name in history by winning nine major singles championships. 

Notably, eight triumphs occurred when she was just a teenager representing Yugoslavia. Her undeniable talent and fearless spirit on the court earned her recognition as one of the greatest players ever.

6. Steffi Graf

  • Nationality: German
  • Date of Birth: June 14, 1969
  • Grand Slam Titles: 22
  • Status: Retired (1999)

Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam in 1988, which involved winning all four major tournaments in a single year. 

This accomplishment places her among only a handful of players who have achieved this remarkable feat. 

Additionally, Graf’s dominance in the sport is evident from her 22 Grand Slam singles titles, which is second only to Margaret Court. 

Moreover, Graf held the world No. 1 ranking for a staggering 377 weeks, a record that has yet to be surpassed. Lastly, Graf’s success extended beyond the Grand Slam tournaments as she also won the Olympic gold medal in 1988.

7. Venus Williams

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: June 17, 1980
  • Grand Slam Titles: 7
  • Status: Semi-retired

Venus achieved the pinnacle of success by reaching the world No. 1 ranking in singles and doubles, a testament to her incredible versatility. 

Venus’s remarkable career boasts seven Grand Slam singles titles, with an impressive five captured at Wimbledon and two at the U.S. Open. 

Her prowess also extends to doubles, where she’s clinched numerous Grand Slam titles alongside her sister Serena, showcasing their remarkable sibling synergy.  

Her intense rivalry with Serena, filled with dramatic and memorable matches, has added unparalleled excitement to the sport. Beyond her on-court achievements, Venus is a global advocate for gender equality, making her a true role model for athletes worldwide.

8. Margaret Court

  • Nationality: Australian
  • Date of Birth: July 16, 1942
  • Grand Slam Titles: 24
  • Status: Retired (1976)

Margaret held the prestigious title of world No.1 and has a record of 24 major singles and 64 major titles, making her the all-time leader in tennis history. 

Court’s remarkable achievements, unwavering dedication, and skills affirm her status as one of the greatest tennis players ever graced the female division. 

Her ability to consistently outperform her opponents and dominate the sport is a testament to her unparalleled talent and competitive spirit. Moreover, Court’s success extends beyond her tennis career, as she has also dedicated herself to her Christian faith and serves as a minister. 

Margaret Court’s remarkable record and contributions to the tennis world have undoubtedly earned her a place among the all-time greats.

9. Justine Henin

  • Nationality: Belgian
  • Date of Birth: June 1, 1982
  • Grand Slam Titles: 7
  • Status: Retired (2011)

Justine Henin is a retired professional tennis player from Belgium who was ranked the world No. 1 for 117 weeks throughout her career. 

Not only did she reach the pinnacle of the sport, but she also held the prestigious year-end No. 1 ranking in 2003, 2006, and 2007. 

Henin’s outstanding achievements on the court, combined with her unique playing style and mental fortitude, firmly establish her as one of the greatest female tennis players ever. 

Her exceptional skills and unwavering determination set her apart from her competitors and cement her status as a true legend in the sport.

10. Billie Jean King

  • Nationality: American
  • Date of Birth: November 22, 1943
  • Grand Slam Titles: 39
  • Status: Retired

Billie Jean King, a legendary American tennis player, holds an impressive record of 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in singles, 16 in women’s doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles; King’s dominance on the court was unparalleled. 

Her exceptional skills and determination propelled her to the top of the rankings as the world’s No. 1 player. 

In addition to her success, King showcased her talent as a team player by being a part of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups.


When it comes to determining the greatest tennis players of all time, it is a subjective and highly debated topic. However, a few players stand out for their exceptional achievements, skill, and impact on the sport. 

Players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams have left an indelible mark on the tennis world with their unrivaled records, numerous Grand Slam titles, and consistent dominance over their careers. 

Their contributions to the sport have not only elevated the level of competition but have also inspired future generations of tennis players. 

These individuals have undoubtedly etched their names in tennis history and will continue to be revered for their remarkable talent and accomplishments.