The Championships, Wimbledon is widely considered as the most prestigious tournament in tennis. Not only is it the oldest tournament, it's also played host to some legendary players in the current professional era of the game, known as the open-era, which started in 1968. Since then, we've seen the sport escalate its status on the global stage with records being broken and set consistently.
The crowd at SW19 has witnessed some legends of the game in recent years, but which of them stand out? Here's our selection of the greatest Wimbledon players in the open-era.
Nine Ladies' singles titles (including six in a row), seven Ladies' doubles titles, four mixed doubles titles (20 in total - most in open era). Played the most matches at The Championships (326).
The most decorated player in the open era with an astonishing 20 titles across four different decades. Navratilova won her first Wimbledon title in the ladies singles competition back in 1978 after completing a three-set victory over number one seed Chris Evert. Eight more singles titles followed between then and 1990, including six in a row between 1982 and 1987. Remarkably she also triumphed in the Ladies' doubles competition seven times. On four occasions she was crowned as both a Ladies; singles and Ladies' doubles winner and in 1985 she also won the first of her four mixed doubles titles, with the final one coming in 2003 at the age of 56 with Indian partner Leander Paes. An absolute legend of the game and arguably the greatest ever.
Billie Jean King
20 Wimbledon titles across both the pre-68 amateur era and the open era.
King earns a special place on this list due to her overall record across the amateur and open era. If you count both, then she is tied with Navratilova on 20 titles across singles, doubles and mixed. She won six Ladie's singles titles in all between 1966 and 1975. Her 10 Ladies’ doubles titles came between 1961 and 1979 in which she won with five different partners, the last of which being the aforementioned Navratilova. With four mixed titles as well, there’s no doubting King’s influence on The Championships, and of course on the world, following the wider social issues that she passionately campaigned for.
Eight Gentlemen's singles titles - more than any other and holds the record for most consecutive Gentlemen's singles titles with five in a row between 2003 and 2007.
Federer has rewritten the record books many times over his illustrious career but in 2017 he became Wimbledon’s most successful Gentlemen's singles player of all-time after winning his eighth title on Centre Court. The Swiss also has the most grand slams in the men’s game with 20 and is still winning titles on the ATP tour at the age of 37. A true gent and a true legend of the game, he’s often treated as one of their own by the Wimbledon crowd. Can he add to the eight before retirement?
Won five Gentlemen's singles titles in a row before retiring from the sport at 26. Shares the record of most consecutive Gentlemen's singles titles with Roger Federer.
Borg stands out as one of the game’s most extraordinary players of all time. Not only is the Swede considered one of the greatest to have ever played the game due to his uncompromising technique and calming presence on court, but his stardom off the court indicated a sea change in the popularity of the sport. All of this in a professional career that concluded at the modest age of 26. That didn’t stop Borg from winning five singles titles at SW19, the last of which came in 1980 against American John McEnroe in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest matches of all time. His 93% win rate at Wimbledon is also a record, as is his streak of 41 consecutive match wins at the All-England Club.
First British Gentlemen's singles winner in 77 years and then won it again three years later.
The first Brit to have won The Championships in the open era and first since Fred Perry in 77 years. Murray’s win was perhaps the most celebrated by the British public ever. His straight sets triumph over Novak Djokovic in 2013 came just a year after falling at the final stage against Roger Federer. The joy and relief was palpable across the nation as Murray came out on top what was a golden era for the men’s game, making this achievement even more impressive. Three years later he went on to win a second title and even won the gold medal for Team GB on the same court at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Youngest ever Gentlemen's singles title winner at just 17.
Becker earns a place on the list due to his early career achievement in which he became the men’s champion at the age of 17; the youngest singles champion ever at Wimbledon and a record which stands today. The German went on to win another two singles titles and won six grand slams overall.
Seven Gentlemen's singles titles - the most ever at the time.
Sampras was in many ways the Federer of the nineties with the American claiming 14 grand slams between 1990 and 2002, seven of which were Wimbledon titles. At the time of his final match later that year he held the record for the most grand slam men’s singles titles and the most Wimbledon men’s singles titles. Both records were bettered by Federer but it’d be wrong to exclude Sampras from this list.
Seven Ladies' singles titles, six Ladies doubles titles.
Serena is another modern great, whose stardom off the court has made her an influential public figure. On it, she is now the leading grand slam title winner in the open era with 23 titles, just one off Margaret Court from the amateur era. At Wimbledon, she has seven Ladies' singles titles. On three of those occasions she defeated her older sister Venus in the final, giving her the edge in the sibling rivalry. By comparison, Venus has won the Venus Rosewater Dish on five occasions. The two sisters have also achieved success together in the Ladies' doubles with the pairing winning the title six times between 2000 and 2016.
Seven Ladies' singles titles, one Ladies' doubles title.
Steffi Graf earns a spot for her seven titles in nine years between 1988 and 1996. The German is the most successful European player in terms of grand slam wins, with 22 to her name, just one from Serena Williams. With Navratilova’s switch from Czech to American citizenship in 1975, Graf is technically the most successful European female player at Wimbledon, which is arguably the most prestigious of European events.
Four Gentlemen's singles titles and reigning champion.
Finally, we wanted to reserve a spot for current men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic. Whilst his four Gentlemen's singles titles in this current golden era are impressive, the Serb is a player that is in pursuit of greatness and could even topple the career achievements of Federer if he keeps up his current form. His Australian Open triumph at the start of 2019 was his 15th grand slam win, moving him to within five of Federer, who is six years older. There’s every chance Djokovic could win a fifth title this summer and he seeks to write his way into the history books and cement his status as a Wimbledon legend.
To find out if Novak can make it title number five, make sure you're there at The Championships this summer.
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