The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary American Tennis Players of all time. This list of famous American Tennis Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of American Tennis Players.
With an HPI of 70.43, Jimmy Connors is the most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages on wikipedia.
James Scott Connors (born September 2, 1952) is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. He held the top Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking for a then-record 160 consecutive weeks from 1974 to 1977 and a career total of 268 weeks. By virtue of his long and prolific career, Connors still holds three prominent Open Era men's singles records: 109 titles, 1,557 matches played, and 1,274 match wins. His titles include eight major singles titles (a joint Open Era record five US Opens, two Wimbledons, one Australian Open), three year-end championships, and 17 Grand Prix Super Series titles. In 1974, he became the second man in the Open Era to win three major titles in a calendar year, and was not permitted to participate in the fourth, the French Open. In 1982, he won both Wimbledon and the US Open and is considered to be the unofficial No. 1 player for that year, in addition to 1974 and 1976. He retired in 1996 at the age of 43.
With an HPI of 69.96, Billie Jean King is the 2nd most famous American Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943) is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She often represented the United States in the Federation Cup and the Wightman Cup. She was a member of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, she was the United States' captain in the Federation Cup. King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. In 1973, at age 29, she won the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. She was also the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation. She was also instrumental in persuading cigarette brand Virginia Slims to sponsor women's tennis in the 1970s and went on to serve on the board of their parent company Philip Morris in the 2000s. Regarded by many in the sport as one of the greatest women's tennis players of all time, King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. The Fed Cup Award of Excellence was bestowed on her in 2010. In 1972, she was the joint winner, with John Wooden, of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award and was one of the Time Persons of the Year in 1975. She has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year lifetime achievement award. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1990, and in 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In 2018, she won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. Standing at only 1.64 m (5 ft 4+1⁄2 in), King is the shortest player to have ever won a grand slam in tennis.
With an HPI of 69.93, Andre Agassi is the 3rd most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.
Andre Kirk Agassi ( AG-ə-see; born April 29, 1970) is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. He is an eight-time major champion and a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, as well as a runner-up in seven other Grand Slam tournaments. Agassi was the first man to win four Australian Open singles titles in the Open Era (though later surpassed by Novak Djokovic, who won his fifth title in 2015). Agassi is the second of five men to achieve the career Grand Slam in the Open Era and the fifth of eight overall to make the achievement. He is also the first of two men to achieve the career Golden Slam (career Grand Slam and Olympic gold medal), and the only man to win a career Super Slam (career Grand Slam, plus the Olympic gold medal and the year-end championships).Agassi was the first man to win all four singles majors on three different surfaces (hard, clay and grass), and remains the most recent American man to win the French Open (in 1999) and the Australian Open (in 2003). He also won 17 ATP Masters Series titles and was part of the winning Davis Cup teams in 1990, 1992 and 1995. Agassi reached the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in 1995 but was troubled by personal issues during the mid-to-late 1990s and sank to No. 141 in 1997, prompting many to believe that his career was over. Agassi returned to No. 1 in 1999 and enjoyed the most successful run of his career over the next four years. During his 20-plus year tour career, Agassi was known by the nickname "The Punisher".After suffering from sciatica caused by two bulging discs in his back, a spondylolisthesis (vertebral displacement) and a bone spur that interfered with the nerve, Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He is the founder of the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $60 million for at-risk children in Southern Nevada. In 2001, the Foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a K-12 public charter school for at-risk children. He has been married to fellow tennis player Steffi Graf since 2001.
With an HPI of 69.58, Stan Smith is the 4th most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Stanley Roger Smith (born December 14, 1946) is an American former tennis player, best known to non-tennis players as the namesake of a popular brand of tennis shoes. A world No. 1 tennis player and two-time major singles champion, Smith also paired with Bob Lutz to create one of the most successful doubles teams of all time. In 1970, Smith won the inaugural year-end championships title. Smith's two major singles titles were the 1971 US Open and 1972 Wimbledon. In 1972, he was the year-end world No. 1 singles player. In 1973, he won his second and last year end championship title at the Dallas WCT Finals. In addition, he won four Grand Prix Championship Series titles. In his early years he improved his tennis game through lessons from Pancho Segura, the Pasadena Tennis Patrons, and the sponsorship of the Southern California Tennis Association headed by Perry T. Jones.
With an HPI of 67.92, Arthur Ashe is the 5th most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. (July 10, 1943 – February 6, 1993) was an American professional tennis player who won three Grand Slam singles titles. He was the first black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. He retired in 1980. He was ranked world No. 1 by Harry Hopman in 1968 and by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and World Tennis Magazine in 1975. In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in May 1976.Ashe is believed to have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery in 1983. He publicly announced his illness in April 1992 and began working to educate others about HIV and AIDS. He founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health before his death from AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of 49 on February 6, 1993. On June 20, 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the United States President Bill Clinton.
With an HPI of 66.81, Chris Evert is the 6th most famous American Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 60 different languages.
Christine Marie Evert (born December 21, 1954), known as Chris Evert Lloyd from 1979 to 1987, is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. She won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles titles. She was the year-end world no. 1 singles player in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, and 1981. Overall, Evert won 157 singles titles and 32 doubles titles. Evert reached 34 Grand Slam singles finals, more than any other player in the history of professional tennis. She holds the record of most consecutive years (13) of winning at least one Major title. In singles, Evert reached the semifinals or better in 52 of the 56 Grand Slams she played, including the semifinals or better of 34 consecutive Grand Slams entered from the 1971 US Open through the 1983 French Open. Evert never lost in the first or second round of a Grand Slam singles tournament and lost in the third round only twice. In Grand Slam women's singles play, Evert won a record seven titles at the French Open and a co-record six championships at the US Open (tied with Serena Williams). Evert's career winning percentage in singles matches of 90.00% (1309–146) is the fifth highest in the history of tennis, for men or women. On clay courts, her career winning percentage in singles matches of 94.55% (382–22) remains a WTA record. Evert served as president of the Women's Tennis Association for eleven calendar years, 1975–76 and 1983–91. She was awarded the Philippe Chatrier award and inducted into the Hall of Fame. In later life, Evert was a coach and is now an analyst for ESPN, and has a line of tennis and active apparel.
With an HPI of 66.59, Bill Tilden is the 7th most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
William Tatem Tilden II (February 10, 1893 – June 5, 1953), nicknamed "Big Bill", was an American male tennis player. Tilden was the world No. 1 player for six years from 1920 through 1925. He won 14 Major singles titles, including 10 Grand Slam events, one World Hard Court Championships and three professional majors. He was the first American to win Wimbledon, taking the title in 1920. He also won a record seven U.S. Championships titles (shared with Richard Sears and Bill Larned). Tilden dominated the world of international tennis in the first half of the 1920s, and during his 20-year amateur period from 1911 to 1930, won 138 of 192 tournaments. He owns a number of all-time tennis achievements, including the career match-winning record and the career winning percentage at the U.S. National Championships. At the 1929 U.S. National Championships Tilden became the first player to reach ten finals at a single Grand Slam event. His ten finals at a grand slam tournament remained a record until 2017, when Roger Federer reached his eleventh Wimbledon final. Tilden, who was frequently at odds with the rigid United States Lawn Tennis Association about his amateur status and income derived from newspaper articles, won his last Major title in 1930 at Wimbledon aged 37. He turned professional on the last day of that year and toured with a handful of other professionals for the next 15 years.
With an HPI of 66.56, Pete Sampras is the 8th most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Petros "Pete" Sampras (born August 12, 1971) is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. His professional career began in 1988 and ended at the 2002 US Open, which he won, defeating longtime rival Andre Agassi in the final. Sampras won 14 major singles titles during his career, which was an all-time record at the time of his retirement: a then-record seven Wimbledon titles, two Australian Opens and a joint Open Era record five US Open titles. He won 64 singles titles in total. He first reached the world No. 1 ranking in 1993, and held that position for a total of 286 weeks (third all time), including an Open Era record of six consecutive Year-End No. 1 rankings from 1993 to 1998. A right-handed player with a single-handed backhand, his precise and powerful serve earned him the nickname "Pistol Pete". In 2007, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
With an HPI of 65.18, Don Budge is the 9th most famous American Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.
John Donald Budge (June 13, 1915 – January 26, 2000) was an American tennis player. He is most famous as the first player — male or female, and still the only American male — to win the four tournaments that comprise the Grand Slam of tennis in a single year. Budge was the second man to win the Career Grand Slam after Fred Perry, and is still the youngest to achieve that feat. He won ten majors, of which six were Grand Slam events (consecutively, a men's record) and four Pro Slams, the latter achieved on three different surfaces. Budge is considered to have the best backhand in the history of tennis, with most observers rating it better than that of later player Ken Rosewall. He is also the only man to have achieved the Triple Crown (winning singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles at the same tournament) on three separate occasions (Wimbledon in 1937 and 1938, and the US Open in 1938), and the only man to have achieved it twice in one year.
With an HPI of 64.08, Doris Hart is the 10th most famous American Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Doris Hart (June 20, 1925 – May 29, 2015) was a tennis player from the United States who was active in the 1940s and first half of the 1950s. She was ranked world No. 1 in 1951. She was the fourth player, and second woman, to win a Career Grand Slam in singles. She was the first of only three players (all women) to complete the career "Boxed Set" of Grand Slam titles, which is winning at least one title in singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles at all four Grand Slam events. Only Margaret Smith Court and she achieved this during the amateur era of the sport.
Pantheon has 179 people classified as tennis players born between 1861 and 2004. Of these 179, 132 (73.74%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living tennis players include Jimmy Connors, Billie Jean King, and Andre Agassi. The most famous deceased tennis players include Arthur Ashe, Bill Tilden, and Don Budge. As of October 2020, 8 new tennis players have been added to Pantheon including Mary Browne, Renée Richards, and Frank Parker.
1952 - Present
1943 - Present
1970 - Present
1946 - Present
1954 - Present
1971 - Present
1981 - Present
1972 - Present
1970 - Present
1980 - Present
1951 - Present
1955 - Present
1943 - 1993
1893 - 1953
1915 - 2000
1925 - 2015
1928 - 1995
1954 - 1994
1861 - 1943
1905 - 1998
1918 - 1995
1881 - 1948
1934 - 1969
1903 - 1959
Which Tennis Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Tennis Players since 1700.