Top 10 greatest American tennis players of all time

Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras

When it comes to Grand Slam Champions, no other country in the world has produced more than the United States of America. Americans also have won more Grand Slams than athletes of any other country - and this is not just restricted to singles, but extends to doubles and mixed doubles as well.

Breaking it down to numbers: At Wimbledon, American men have won 32 Grand Slam titles since 1877 (second highest after host Great Britain), while American women have won a record 57 titles at the All-England Club.

Coming to the Australian Open, American men are second on the list with 18 trophies behind Australia. American women likewise are second behind Australian ladies with 24 titles.

At Roland Garros, male American players have won 11 titles till date (joint-third with Australia) and its female players have won 29 titles (only one behind hosts France). However, in the Open Era, American women lead the pack with 15 titles.

At the US Open, the dominance of American athletes can be visibly seen in the stats. Although the last American male player to win the US Open was Andy Roddick way back in 2003, its men have dominated the tournament since the inception, winning a total of 85 titles. In the women's draw, the numbers are even more staggering, with American women having won 92 titles; that is 86 titles more than the next best, Germany and Australia.

Here, we highlight the achievements of 10 of the greatest American tennis players of all time:

#10 Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe at Wimbledon Championships
Arthur Ashe at Wimbledon Championships

Arthur Ashe is an all-time great American legend who won the first US Open held in the Open Era in 1968. Ashe broke many stereotypes and barriers - from being the first black tennis player to get selected to the US Davis Cup team, to being the first black player to win a Grand Slam title.

Ashe received the USA's highest honour - the Presidential Medal of Freedom, posthumously in the year 1993 from President Bill Clinton. The primary court of the US Open at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, New York is named after him.

Ashe won a total of 3 Grand Slam titles but more than this, his amazing story is what inspires millions.

#9 Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson during her teenage years
Althea Gibson during her teenage years

The foremost black player to compete on the women's tennis circuit in the 1960s was American Althea Gibson. At a time when racism and prejudice were widespread in sports and society in general, Gibson achieved considerable success. and is an inspiration to many young players to this day.

She was the first ever black player to win a Grand Slam, and her contributions are spoken of in high regard even today.

"Her road to success was a challenging one," said fellow American tennis great Billie Jean King about Gibson's career. Venus Williams and Serena Williams have often spoken about the kind of impact Gibson's success had on their own careers early on.

Gibson was a five-time Grand Slam Singles champion, winning Wimbledon and the US Open twice each and the French Open once. If Gibson had won the Australian Open, she would have become the fourth woman at the time to complete the Career Slam.

#8 Venus Williams

Venus Williams after winning The Championships - Wimbledon 2007
Venus Williams after winning The Championships - Wimbledon 2007

The only player in tennis history to win Olympic medals in 4 different Summer Olympic Games, big-serving American Venus Williams has been a mainstay of women's tennis for almost 20 years.

Venus Williams has won 7 Grand Slam Singles titles, 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles, 2 Mixed Doubles titles and 5 Olympic medals, of which 4 are gold. She is second only to her younger sister Serena Williams in career prize money earnings.

If not for her sister Serena, Venus would have won the French Open and Australian Open too.

Making her first Grand Slam singles appearance at the 1997 French Open, Venus has appeared in a record 80 Grand Slam tournaments, which is the highest among both men and women. At 38, Venus Williams still has the hunger and desire to compete at the highest level, and is eagerly looking forward to the 2019 tennis season.

#7 John McEnroe

John McEnroe at the 2018 Ryder Cup
John McEnroe at the 2018 Ryder Cup

John McEnroe, Jr. is a former World No. 1 tennis athlete often rated among the greatest tennis players of all time, especially for his silken skills at the net.

He won seven Grand Slam singles titles, nine Grand Slam men's doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title. He also won a record eight year-end championships, 19 Grand Prix Super Series titles, and finished his career with 77 ATP-listed singles titles and 71 in doubles.

McEnroe was known for his shot-making ability and volleying skills, for his rivalries with BjΓΆrn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, and for his confrontational on-court behavior with umpires which frequently landed him in trouble.

McEnroe is one of the most underrated doubles players of all time. Despite winning 9 doubles titles most of them with Peter Fleming, his doubles game is almost never spoken about.

McEnroe currently serves as a tennis analyst for BBC and is an extremely popular commentator, especially at Wimbledon.

#6 Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf

Andre Agassi is a former World No. 1, who was one of the game's most dominant players from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s.

Agassi was regarded by both experts and fellow players to have the best service return in the history of the game. Described by the BBC upon his retirement as "perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport's history", Agassi exhibited performances that were par excellence.

With his unorthodox style of clothing and attitude, Agassi is one of the most charismatic players in tennis ever.

He is the only man in tennis to achieve the 'Career Super Slam' as described by Sports Illustrated Magazine. That involves winning all 4 Grand Slams, the Olympics Gold and the ATP Finals.

Agassi won 8 Grand Slams including 4 Australian Open titles. His last Grand Slam came at the 2003 Australian Open.

Agassi is married to another tennis legend Steffi Graf, and the two of them combined have 30 Grand Slam Singles titles.

#5 Bill Tilden

Bill Tilden And Henri Cochet
Bill Tilden And Henri Cochet

Bill Tilden, nicknamed 'Big Bill' and 'Gentleman Bill', was the first American to win the Wimbledon Championships. Well respected by his fellow players, Tilden won a total of 10 Grand Slam Singles titles (7 US Open and 3 Wimbledon) in his career, and was the top-ranked player between 1920-1925.

He was the first player to reach 10 Wimbledon finals, a feat that was broken by Roger Federer in the year 2011. Tilden was also a 7-time Davis Cup winner, and his mark of 7 US Open title wins is unmatched till today in men's tennis.

Tilden brought an intellectual approach to tennis. He thoroughly studied and mastered the use of spin, favored drop shots and lobs, and would rely on his athleticism and physical build to wear his opponents down.

Tilden was ranked World No. 1 for a record six consecutive years between 1920 and 1925 - a feat that was later matched by Pete Sampras 73 years later in 1998. Tilden didn't lose a single match in all of the year 1924.

#4 Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King

Known for her swiftness, net play and exemplary backhand , Billie Jean King was a regular fixture in singles, doubles and mixed doubles tournaments during the 1960s and 1970s.

King won an astounding 39 Grand Slam titles including 12 Singles, 16 Women’s Doubles and 11 Mixed Doubles titles.

In 1973, King was at the forefront of the formation of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). Utilising her position as one of the game's champion players, she threatened a boycott of the 1973 US Open if the issue of pay disparity was not addressed.

Her demands were eventually met, and the the US Open became the first Grand Slam to offer equal prize money to women and men. The USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York City was named in her honour as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, King continues to remain closely associated with the sport of tennis as an analyst and as a television commentator. She also served as captain of the US Olympics team at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games.

#3 Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras at the Wimbledon Championships 2000
Pete Sampras at the Wimbledon Championships 2000

Big serving American Pete Sampras, widely considered to be one of the greatest serve and volley players ever, is fourth on the list of greatest American players ever.

Sampras, nicknamed 'Pistol Pete' for his fast serves, won a total of 14 Grand Slam titles between 1990 and 2002.

He held the World No.1 ranking for a total of 286 weeks, including a record six consecutive year-end World No. 1 finishes between 1993 to 1998 inclusive. His Slam tally includes 2 Australian Opens (1994, 1997), 7 Wimbledon Championships (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000) and 5 US Open titles (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002).

Sampras and his long-time rival and fellow American Andre Agassi dominated men's tennis in the 1990s. Sampras' tally of 64 singles titles, which included 5 Tour Finals victories, helped him amass a total career-prize money of $43,280,489.

#2 Chris Evert

Chris Evert at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship
Chris Evert at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship

American Chris Evert holds the record for the most Grand Slam final appearances, with 31 appearances. In a glittering career, she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles including winning at least one in 13 consecutive years - an all-time record.

Evert's singles winning percentage of 89.97% is the highest among both men and women. And her rivalry with Martina Navratilova is one of the greatest rivalries in professional tennis history.

Evert is widely considered to be the most dominant claycourt player in the women's game with 7 French Open crowns and a clay-court win percentage of 94.55%. She won an astoundingly impressive 157 singles titles in her career.

Post-retirement she has had two stints as President of the WTA, and is presently serving as a tennis analyst for ESPN.

#1 Serena Williams

Serena Williams at the 2014 Australian Open
Serena Williams at the 2014 Australian Open

The only active player apart from her sister Venus Williams in this list is, of course, Serena Williams.

Serena rose to prominence as a teenager in the late 1990s, and is the only woman in tennis history to win Grand Slam singles titles in 3 different decades (the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s). Her tally of 23 Grand Slam titles till date is second to none in the Open Era.

The only woman with over 80 million in prize money earnings, Serena has inspired women all over the world with her on-court achievements. She continues to defy age and time as she looks to break Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles.

Serena has won the Olympic Gold in doubles 3 times, and the Olympic Singles Gold in 2012. Apart from helping USA win the Fed Cup in 1999 and the Hopman Cup twice, Serena has also won every single Grand Slam doubles final that she has featured in along with her sister Venus as partner, giving her a total of 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles.

Bestowed recently with 'The WTA Comeback Player of the Year in 2018 Award', Serena Williams has won 72 singles titles till date.

Edited by Musab Abid


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