Greatest Players of All Time

Comparing the top players of different generations is a complex task.

Could “Big Bill” Tilden have held his own against Rod Laver ? How about Helen Wills Moody facing Steffi Graf ? Imagine Jack Kramer and Pete Sampras going full force against each other if both were at their best.

All of the experts share the feeling that each decade in this century has showcased a new cast of top-notch players. Early round matches-once a formality for the leading competitors-have become increasingly challenging assignments for the favorites. The level of play across the board on both the men’s and women’s tours is better than it has ever been before.

Nevertheless, it does not automatically follow that the champion of today would defeat yesterday’s Pancho Gonzales toppled Rod Laver twice only months after Laver’s second Grand Slam. Pancho was forty-two when he pulled the latter upset, Laver not yer thirty-two. Ken Rosewall reached the finals of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open when he war Thirty-nine. Jimmy Connors remained a major force deep into his thirties, and made it to the U.S. Open semifinals when he was thirty-nine.

The great players must be judged by the scope of their accomplishments, by their consistency as frontline competitors, and by their ability to produce their best under pressure. In making my assessment of the top ten men and women of all time, I have graded these players primarily on the strength of their records, on their consistency over long periods of time, and by examining their peak performances in the summertime of their careers. In compiling these rankings, I have attempted to do justice to the great players of every era.


Country : USA, DoB : 12 August 1971

During his 14-year tour career, he won 14 Grand Slamsingles titles, becoming the first player to break Roy Emerson’s record of 12 Slams. Sampras also won 7 major indoor titles (5 ATP year-end World Championships and 2 Grand Slam Cups). He was the year-end world no. 1 for six consecutive years (1993–1998), a record for the Open Era.

Country : Australia, DoB : 9 August 1938

Laver holds the record for most singles titles won in the history of tennis, with 200 career titles. He was ranked World No. 1 for seven consecutive years, from 1964 to 1970 (from 1964 to 1967 in the professional circuit. Rod Laver is the third player, behind Roy Emerson and Margaret Court, to win each major singles title twice in his career. He also won a total of 9 Major doubles titles including 6 Grand Slam men’s doubles and 3 Grand Slam mixed doubles.

Country : USA, DoB : 10 February 1893

Bill Tilden was the World No. 1 player for seven years. He won 14 Major singles titles including 10 Grand Slams, 1 World Hard Court Championships and 3 Pro Slams. He also won a record seven US Championshipstitles (shared with Richard Sears and Bill Larned). He dominated the world of international tennis in the first half of the 1920s, and during his 18-year amateur period of 1912–30, he won 138 of 192 tournaments. He owns a number of all-time tennis achievements including a career match winning record of 93.60% 907/62.

Country : Sweden, DoB : 6 June 1956

Between 1974 and 1981 he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles. He won five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles and six French Opensingles titles. During his relatively brief pro career, Borg won 41% of the Grand Slam singles tournaments he entered (11 of 27) and 89.81% (141–16) of the Grand Slam singles matches he played. He is one of four players in the open era to win both Wimbledon and the French Open in the same year and the only player to do so for three consecutive years.

Country: USA, DoB: 13 June

Budge was a World No. 1 player for five years, first as an amateur and then as a professional. He is most famous as the first player, male or female, and only American male to win in a single year the four tournaments that comprise the Grand Slam of tennis and second male player to win all four Grand Slams in his career after Fred Perry, and is still the youngest to achieve that feat. He won 10 majors, of which six were Grand Slams(consecutively, male record) and four Pro Slams, the latter achieved on three different surfaces. Budge was considered to have the best backhand in the history of tennis, at least until the emergence of Ken Rosewall in the 1950s and 1960s.

Country: USA, DoB: 9 May 1928

Richard Gonzales, also known as Pancho Gonzales, was an American tennis player. He was the World No. 1 tennis player for an all time record eight years from 1952 to 1960. He won 17 Major singles titles including 15 Pro Slams and 2 Grand Slams. Largely self-taught, Gonzales was a successful amateur player in the late-1940s, twice winning the United States Championships.

Country: USA, DoB: 2 September 1952

Connors won eight Grand Slam singles titles (five US Opens, two Wimbledons and one Australian Open) and two Grand Slam doubles titles (at the US Open and Wimbledon), and was a runner-up in seven Grand Slam singles finals, one Grand Slam doubles final and one Grand Slam mixed doubles final. He held the top ranking for a then-record 160 consecutive weeks from July 29, 1974 to August 22, 1977 and an additional eight times during his career for a total of 268 weeks. He was the first male player in the Open Era to rank No. 1 for more than five years in total and more than 200 weeks. He held a year-end top ten ranking for an Open Era record 16 years.

Country: USA, DoB: 16 February 1959

McEnroe is known for his shot-making artistry and volleying skills; for his rivalries with Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl; and for his confrontational oncourt behavior which frequently landed him in trouble with umpires and tennis authorities. In 1984, he recorded the best single season win-loss record in the Open Era at 96.47% (82/3). McEnroe was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999 and received the Philippe Chatrier Award in 2007.

Country: USA, DoB: 16 February 1959

Lendl’s game relied particularly on strength and heavy topspin from the baseline and helped usher in the modern era of “power tennis”. Lendl captured eight Grand Slam singles titles. He competed in 19 Grand lam singles finals, a record surpassed by Roger Federer in 2009 and Rafael Nadal in 2014. He reached at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years, a record shared with Pete Sampras, with the male primacy of eight consecutive finals in a Grand Slam tournament (a record shared with Bill Tilden at the US Open).

Country: Great Britain, DoB: 18 May 1909

Andre is a protege of the Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis school in Florida. He has been the ultimate flamboyant professional from the ‘show man’ town of Las Vegas! Has 8 Grand slam titles to his credit, but most remarkable is that he is amongst only 5 players in history to have won all the four grand slam tournaments-The Australian, French,Wimbledon and the US Open. Also, he was the oldest Number 1 ranked player in the world at 33 years of age in 2003. While his game was ideally suited to clay, he showed in 1992 that the return of service at Wimbledon is the most sacred shot on grass to win. Married to Steffi Graf (herself a former World number 1) and they have two children. Is now actively involved in charity work
Only 26 years old, the man from Basel, Switzerland has 12 grand slams under his belt-5 Wimbledon’s, 4 US Open’s and 3 Australian Open’s. Is already considered by the pundits to be the Greatest ever. Federer and Bjorn Borg are members of the ‘two man’s club’ as they are the only one’s to have won 5 Wimbledon Singles championships in a row! A beautiful player who glides around the court effortlessly. If health and hunger remain, he is on track to beat Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand slam wins. Clay is still a tough test for him as he has lost the last two French Open’s to his nemesis Rafael Nadal in the finals.

Country: USA, DoB: April 29 1970

Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam champion and a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, as well as finishing runner-up in seven other Grand Slam tournaments. His four Australian Open titles are an Open Era record (shared with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer). He is one of four male singles players to achieve the Career Grand Slam (all four Grand Slam championships) in the Open Era and one of seven in history, the first of two to achieve the Career Golden Slam (Career Grand Slam and Olympic gold medal), and the only man to win the Career Golden Slam and the ATP Tour World Championships (won in 1990).

Country: Serbia, DoB: 22 May 1987

Djokovic has won seven Grand Slam singles titles and has held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a total of 102 weeks. By winning three Grand Slam titles in 2011, Djokovic became the sixth male player to win three Grand Slams in a calendar year. Djokovic’s ATP tournament records include winning 31 consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series matches, playing in the finals at all nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments (a record shared by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal), and being the only player to win eight.

Country: Spain, DoB: 3 June 1986

Nadal’s success on clay has earned him the nickname “The King of Clay”and has led many sports journalists and commentators, as well as former and current players, to regard him as the finest clay court player in history. Nadal has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles (of which he has 9 French Opens) the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles, a record 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and a record 15 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments.