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Greatest 'Athlete' To Play Tennis

A poll for The Greatest Tennis Athlete of All Time was conducted on the ESPN Sport Science website in 2012. The voting was based on the best athlete (not player) who has a combination of strength, speed, endurance, quickness, durability and the other attributes that make an athlete elite. See more about the ESPN Sport Science poll to determine the Greatest Athlete of All Time. See also our discussion of the greatest ever tennis player.


Who is the greatest tennis athlete of all time?

  1. Roger Federer — Federer held the World No. 1 ranking for 302 total weeks, the most of any player. He's won 17 career Grand Slam titles, (up to 2012), including 7 Wimbledon singles titles.
  2. Rafael Nadal — Youngest man ever to win a career Grand Slam. 7-time French Open champion.
  3. Martina Navratilova — In a long career, she won 18 career Grand Slam titles, including 9-time Wimbledon champion. she won her 57th Grand Slam title at age 46 to became the oldest champion in tennis history. Held World No. 1 ranking for 332 weeks.
  4. Pete Sampras — 14 career Grand Slam titles, including 7 Wimbledon and 5 US Open singles titles. Was the No. 1-ranked player in the world for a total of 286 weeks.
  5. Serena Williams — A very athletic player with 28 career Grand Slam titles (15 singles, 13 doubles). Serena's powerful serve has been measured at 128 mph - the second fastest recorded in women's tennis history.

And the winner is ... Roger Federer

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