Roger Federer is unanimously considered one of the biggest ambassadors for tennis. The Swiss maestro is among the most popular athletes to have ever lived, with a fanbase that spans the entire globe.
Federer was the first to overtake Pete Sampras' tally of 14 Slam titles, and was also the first man to win 20 Majors. Now he is tied with Novak Djokovic for 20 Slam titles and trails only Rafael Nadal, who has 22 Majors to his name.
Federer was the first member of the Big 3 to break onto the tennis scene, winning his first Slam title at Wimbledon back in 2003. 15 years later, at the 2018 Australian Open, the Swiss won his 20th Major.
Federer, a 28-time Masters winner, has spent 310 weeks as World No. 1 - which includes a record 237 consecutive weeks at the top. He has won the year-end championships six times, which is the most by any player.
Out of his 20 Major titles, the former World No. 1 has won six at the Australian Open, five at the US Open, one at the French Open and a record eight at Wimbledon.
Federer won the Davis Cup in 2014 and has also won the Hopman Cup thrice. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he bagged the gold medal in the men's doubles, partnering compatriot Stan Wawrinka. Federer also won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the singles category.
Federer is six titles away from equalling Jimmy Connors' record for most ATP titles won (109). Although he trails both his rivals, Nadal and Djokovic, in the head-to-head count, the Swiss has been frequently lauded for playing an instrumental role in transforming modern tennis.
The words artistry, grace and balletic are often used to describe Federer's style on the tennis court. He has excelled in a variety of conditions too; be it the experimental blue clay of Madrid, the Rebound and Plexicushion hardcourts of the Australian Open or the carpet courts of Basel, the 40-year-old has found success on almost every surface.
On that note, here's a look at five legendary tennis players who have labelled Roger Federer the greatest of all time:
#1 Stan Smith
Former World No. 1 in both singles and doubles, Stan Smith won three singles and five doubles Slams in his career. The American was the first winner of the year-ending championships in 1970, where he defeated Rod Laver in the final.
Speaking to Corriere Della Sera in November 2020, Stan Smith gave his take on why Roger Federer is the GOAT.
"In my all-time rankings, I put Roger Federer ahead of Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg," Smith said. "The game was different in the past with a wooden racket, less powerful and slower; if you didn't hit a ball in the perfect center of the head, you would miss. I believe that the only one who would be equally successful with a wooden racquet is Roger Federer; he plays clean and flat, as we did."
#2 Todd Woodbridge
One of the greatest doubles players of all time, Todd Woodbridge won 16 men's doubles and six mixed doubles Majors in his career. The former doubles World No. 1 currently works as a sports broadcaster with the Nine Network.
In an interview with Tennis Channel in March 2021, Woodbridge opined that numbers are not the only factor in picking the GOAT.
"If I was to pick who the greatest is for me, it would be Roger Federer," Woodbridge said. "Because Roger for me is the greatest all-court player that we have ever seen. He would have won more French Opens if it were not for Rafael Nadal dominating there, his (Federer's) Grand Slam tally would be far more even."
"When I look at the classical part of the game - forehand, backhand, movement, transition to the net, all-court game; is the winner when we talk about the greatest of all time," the Australian added.
#3 Gustavo Kuerten
Former World No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten is a three-time French Open Champion. Kuerten was the only player to beat Federer at the Majors in 2004, winning in straight sets at the French Open.
The Brazilian was asked by a fan in a Q&A session hosted on Roland Garros' official website in 2019 who he thought the GOAT was. In response, Kuerten suggested that Roger Federer "stands out more" than his Big 3 rivals, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
"We're going to put Federer on the grass, Nadal on the clay and Djokovic, can we give him the hardcourt? If you go deeper into a comparison, it has to be through the titles, the achievements," Kuerten said. "And then Federer stands out more. He's also the longest tenured player."
#4 Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova is one of the best tennis players the world has ever witnessed. A winner of 59 Slams (18 singles, 31 doubles, 10 mixed doubles), Navratilova is one of only three players in tennis history to have won a Career Boxed Set (winning every Slam in singles, doubles and mixed doubles).
During her announcement of the 2018 Laureus Sportsman of the Year award, Navratilova said Federer was "the world's greatest of all time."
"You played the game such inspired and with such attitude that you are an inspiration for all of us. We are really proud to declare you the world's greatest of all time," Navratilova said.
Ahead of the 2018 Australian Open final too, Navratilova was full of praise for the Swiss maestro.
"I think somebody will have to play better than their average tennis - Roger's average tennis - and Roger's best is better than anybody else," she said.
#5 Serena Williams
Serena Williams is dubbed by many as the GOAT in women's tennis. The American has won 23 singles, 14 doubles and 2 mixed doubles Slams in her career. She has spent 319 weeks as World No. 1, which includes a streak of 186 consecutive weeks at the top.
When asked in May 2021 to cast her vote for the greatest of all time, Williams had no doubt in choosing Roger Federer.
"I think two words sum it up: Roger Federer. He's just a synopsis of greatness and class and amazing and really changed the game," Williams said. "You see players playing like him, moving like him, doing his techniques. The guy is (a) genius. I just feel like he is really the greatest player. You can't not like the guy, that's how I feel. His game is so fantastic. If I could only play like him."