The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Tennis Players of all time. This list of famous 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 Tennis Players.
With an HPI of 64.86, Billie Jean King is the most famous Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 60 different languages on wikipedia.
Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943) is an American former world No. 1 tennis player. King won 39 major titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. King was a member of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, she was the U.S. captain in the Federation Cup. King is an advocate of 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. King was also the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation. She was 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 as one of the greatest 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. In 2020, the Federation Cup was renamed the Billie Jean King Cup in her honor. In 2022, she was awarded the French Legion of Honour.
With an HPI of 61.33, Jimmy Connors is the 2nd most famous Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.
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. Connors finished year end number one in the ATP rankings from 1974 to 1978. In 1982, he won both Wimbledon and the US Open and was ATP Player of the Year and ITF World Champion. He retired in 1996 at the age of 43.
With an HPI of 61.24, Arthur Ashe is the 3rd most famous Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 53 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 started to play tennis at six years old. 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 Rex Bellamy, Bud Collins, Judith Elian, Lance Tingay, World Tennis and Tennis Magazine (U.S.) in 1975. In 1975 Ashe was awarded the 'Martini and Rossi' Award, voted for by a panel of journalists, and the ATP Player of the Year award. In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in May 1976.Ashe is believed to have acquired 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, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by United States President Bill Clinton.
With an HPI of 61.18, Andre Agassi is the 4th most famous 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 an Olympic gold medalist, as well as a runner-up in seven other majors. 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 Masters 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 61.10, Stan Smith is the 5th most famous Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Stanley Roger "Stan" Smith (born December 14, 1946) is an American former professional tennis player. Smith is best known to non-tennis players as the namesake of a popular brand of tennis shoes. A world No. 1 player and two-time major singles champion (at the 1971 US Open and 1972 Wimbledon Championships), 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. 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. Since 2011, Smith has served as President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
With an HPI of 59.84, Serena Williams is the 6th most famous Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 92 different languages.
Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player. She has been ranked singles world No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the Open Era, and the second-most of all time (behind Margaret Court's 24). Along with her older sister Venus, Serena Williams was coached by her parents Oracene Price and Richard Williams. Turning professional in 1995, she won her first major singles title at the 1999 US Open. From the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open, she was dominant, winning all four major singles titles (each time over Venus in the final) to achieve a non-calendar year Grand Slam and the career Grand Slam, known as the "Serena Slam". The next few years saw her claim two more singles majors, but suffer from injury and decline in form. Beginning in 2007, however, she gradually returned to form despite continued injuries, retaking the world No. 1 singles ranking. Beginning at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, Williams returned to dominance, claiming Olympic gold and becoming the first tennis player to achieve a Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles. She won eight out of thirteen singles majors, including all four in a row from 2014–15 to achieve a second "Serena Slam". At the 2017 Australian Open, she won her 23rd major singles title, surpassing Steffi Graf's Open Era record. She then took a break from professional tennis after becoming pregnant, and has reached four major finals since returning to play. Williams has also won 14 major women's doubles titles, all with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. This includes a non-calendar year Grand Slam between the 2009 Wimbledon Championships and the 2010 French Open, which granted the sisters the doubles world No. 1 ranking. She has won four Olympic gold medals, three in women's doubles — an all-time joint record shared with her sister. She has also won two major mixed doubles titles, both in 1998. In August 2022, Williams announced her impending retirement from professional tennis.Williams is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour. Serena holds the most combined major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles among active players, with 39: 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and two in mixed doubles. She is joint-third on the all-time list and second in the Open Era for total major titles. She is the most recent woman to simultaneously hold all four major singles titles (2002–03 and 2014–15), and the most recent woman to win the Surface Slam (major titles on hard, clay and grass courts in the same calendar year), doing so in 2015. She is also, with Venus, the most recent player to have simultaneously held all four major women's doubles titles (2009–10). Williams was the world's highest paid woman athlete in 2016, earning almost $29 million. She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes' list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, with $27 million in prize money and endorsements. She has won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award four times (2003, 2010, 2016, 2018), and in December 2015 was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 2021, she was ranked 28th on Forbes' World's Highest-Paid Athletes list. She is the highest-earning woman athlete of all time.
With an HPI of 58.19, Pete Sampras is the 7th most famous Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Petros "Pete" Sampras (Greek: Πέτρος Σάμπρας; 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 58.17, Venus Williams is the 8th most famous Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 78 different languages.
Venus Ebony Starr Williams (born June 17, 1980) is an American professional tennis player. A former world No. 1 in both singles and doubles, Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, five at Wimbledon and two at the US Open. She is widely regarded as one of the all-time greats of the sport.Along with her younger sister Serena Williams, Venus Williams was coached by her parents Oracene Price and Richard Williams. Turning professional in 1994, she reached her first major final at the 1997 US Open. In 2000 and 2001, Williams claimed the Wimbledon and US Open titles, as well as Olympic singles gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She first reached the singles world No. 1 ranking on 25 February 2002, becoming the first African American woman to do so in the Open Era, and the second of all-time after Althea Gibson. She reached four consecutive major finals between 2002 and 2003, but lost each time to Serena. She then suffered from injuries, winning just one major title between 2003 and 2006. Williams returned to form starting in 2007, when she won Wimbledon (a feat she repeated the following year). In 2010, she returned to the world No. 2 position in singles, but then suffered again from injuries. Starting in 2014, she again gradually returned to form, culminating in two major final appearances at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017. Along with her seven singles major titles, Williams has also won 14 women's doubles major titles, all partnering Serena; the pair is unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. She became the world No. 1 in doubles for the first time on June 7, 2010, alongside Serena, after the pair completed a non-calendar-year Grand Slam at the French Open. The pair also won three Olympic gold medals in women's doubles, in 2000, 2008, and 2012, adding to Venus' singles gold in 2000 and her mixed doubles silver in 2016. Williams has also won two mixed doubles major titles, both in 1998. The Williams sisters are credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour. With 49 WTA Tour singles titles, Williams trails only her sister Serena among active players with the most singles titles. With 22 WTA doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles, her combined total of 73 WTA titles is also second among active players behind Serena. She is also one of only two active players to have reached the singles finals of all four majors, along with Serena. Williams was twice the season prize money leader (in 2001 and 2017), and ranks second behind Serena in all-time career prize money winnings, having earned over US$42 million as of March 2022.
With an HPI of 57.76, Don Budge is the 9th most famous Tennis Player. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
John Donald Budge (June 13, 1915 – January 26, 2000) was an American tennis player. He is most famous as the first tennis player — male or female, and still the only American male — to win the Grand Slam, and to win all four Grand Slam events consecutively overall. Budge was the second man to complete the career Grand Slam after Fred Perry, and remains the youngest to achieve the 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 one of the best backhands in the history of tennis, with most observers rating it better than that of later player Ken Rosewall.Budge 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 Championships in 1938), and the only man to have achieved it twice in one year. Budge was the world Number 1 amateur in 1937 and 1938 and world Number 1 professional in 1939, 1940 and 1942.
With an HPI of 57.51, Chris Evert is the 10th most famous Tennis Player. Her biography has been translated into 63 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. Evert won 18 major singles titles, including a record seven French Open titles and a joint-record six US Open titles (tied with Serena Williams). She was ranked world No. 1 for 260 weeks, and was the year-end world No. 1 singles player seven times (1974–78, 1980, 1981). Alongside Martina Navratilova, her greatest rival, Evert dominated women's tennis in the 1970s and 1980s. Evert reached 34 major singles finals, the most in history. In singles, Evert reached the semifinals or better in 52 of the 56 majors she played, including at 34 consecutive majors entered from the 1971 US Open through the 1983 French Open. She never lost in the first or second round of a major, and lost in the third round only twice. She holds the record of most consecutive years (13) of winning at least one major title. Evert's career winning percentage in singles matches of 89.97% (1309–146) is the second highest in the Open Era, for men or women. On clay courts, her career winning percentage in singles matches of 94.55% (382–22) remains a WTA Tour record. She also won three major doubles titles. Evert served as president of the Women's Tennis Association for eleven 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.
Pantheon has 193 people classified as tennis players born between 1861 and 2004. Of these 193, 138 (71.50%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living tennis players include Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, and Andre Agassi. The most famous deceased tennis players include Arthur Ashe, Don Budge, and Bill Tilden. As of April 2022, 14 new tennis players have been added to Pantheon including Fred Alexander, Bertha Townsend, and Holcombe Ward.
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1943 - 1993
1915 - 2000
1893 - 1953
1928 - 1995
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1880 - 1969
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1878 - 1947
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Which Tennis Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Tennis Players since 1700.