The action is well underway in yet another Grand Slam, and we’ve compiled a list of our top five tennis players of all time to celebrate! The sport has seen some incredible eras of dominance in the last century, but we are lucky to be currently witnessing some of the best players ever to grace the court in direct competition with one another.
Steffi Graf – 107 titles, 22 Grand Slams
How on earth could you deny Steffi Graf a place on this list? In 1988 the German reached a level of dominance that coined a new title – Golden Slam. She became the first, and remains the only player, ever to have won all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in a calendar year. It’s not like she stopped there either.
Graf went on to win three out of four Grand Slams in 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996, an endless list of incredible feats that leave her as the second most decorated woman in Open Era history. She won her last Grand Slam in 1999, passing the torch to Serena Williams, who won her first the same year.
Roger Federer – 103 titles, 20 Grand Slams
Due to the recent success of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, people have been quick to forget just how good Roger Federer was. A little over a decade ago we would have been talking about how there was no doubt the Swiss legend was the greatest ever.
Five consecutive titles in London make him the most successful player in Wimbledon Open Era history, a feat Djokovic will be hoping to match this year, and his ability across all surfaces led to a diverse range of championship wins. His early rivalry with Nadal was something to behold – we may never again witness two all-time greats competing consistently at the peak of their powers.
Serena Williams – 73 titles, 23 Grand Slams
She may have the least overall titles on the list, but she is the joint most accomplished Grand Slam player in the men’s and women’s Open Era. In terms of sheer power and court control, nobody did it quite like Serena Williams. There has not been a single player in the history of the game who struck fear into opponents like the American.
The fact about a third of her championship wins were Grand Slams is a testament to her ability to rise to the occasion. Over two decades on from her first major win in 1999, she is still listed among the favourites every time a Grand Slam rolls around. At the peak of her career, not a single player could hold their own on a court with her.
Rafael Nadal – 92 titles, 22 Grand Slams
Nadal is extremely unlucky not to come in at number one. His complete and utter domination of the French Open is something that we will without doubt never see again. Never before has one player reigned supreme for so long on a single surface. However, this might just be what holds him back in the debate for greatest of all time – his range of Grand Slam victories simply isn’t as diverse as the likes of Federer and Djokovic.
That being said, the fact he has won 14 of the last 19 French Open titles is remarkable. He announced himself on the clay scene in 2005 and has not looked back since. You get the feeling he is coming towards the end of his time at the top, but that’s not stopped him from adding a couple more Grand Slams to his collection.
Novak Djokovic – 94 titles – 23 Grand Slams
Novak Djokovic’s variety of Grand Slams are what sets him apart from the rest. He has won it all, whilst also managing to dominate the world’s oldest tennis tournament, Wimbledon. There is an aura of inevitability about the Serbian. He is always calm, collected and waiting for his moment to pulverise you on court.
At 36 years old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down – Djokovic won three of four Grand Slams in 2021 and has won both the Australian and French Open thus far in 2023. As well as having the superior head-to-head record against both Nadal and Federer, Djokovic also holds the record for the longest time spent as world number one. There’s not a player in the history of the sport that can beat him on his day, and that’s why he is the greatest tennis player of all time.
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