When we think about the popularity of the biggest tennis tournaments taking place all year round, we see competition and great sportsmanship. This elitist sport, highly charged with athletic brilliance, has been and continues to amaze all tennis fans.
Every decade brought new changes in the rules of tennis and higher standards, which represented the perfect context for newcomers. This way, new names stole fans’ hearts by making history, which also led to astonishing competitions and even rivalries.
To honor the career and prolific activity of some of the most appreciated players, we put together 5 of those retired tennis players that we won’t ever forget. Although not active today, their performance helped tennis reach new levels in terms of achievements, training, and sportsmanship.
Seen as the spoiled wonder boy of tennis, Jimmy Connors’ tennis career took over 24 years of his life, during which he won the biggest number of titles. Born in 1952, Connors became a professional tennis player in 1972 and gathered not less than 147 career titles. Since the 70s was his most successful period, he managed to win the three Grand Slam tournaments that he entered.
In 1998, Connors was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame, two years after his retirement. His overwhelming title portfolio includes 8 Grand Slam Single Titles: 5 US Open, 2 Wimbledon, and 1 Australian Open. During his active years, Connors’ worth in prize money reached more than $8 million.
Fans of tennis will always go back to the famous matches between Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, his all-time rival. Back in the day, tennis lovers were able to witness some of the most entertaining matches between the two. Nonetheless, his unique temper got him into trouble at times, being banned from official competitions. Connors is also known for his online casinos gambling activity, which led to addiction problems. Even so, the great Jimmy Connors remains one of the most successful tennis players of all time, being the number 1 ranked player in the world, for over 160 consecutive weeks.
The 2004 Wimbledon Grand Slam final was the beginning of a new, glamorous stage in the female tennis world. A new star was born – Maria Sharapova, a 17-year-old player that managed to defeat the great Serena Williams. The 5 Grand Slam titles won along with her remarkable career, made Sharapova a fearful opponent for all renowned players.
Today, Maria Sharapova runs an impressive activity, based on charity events, fashion involvement, and many other endeavors. At 32, the player decided to put her tennis career to an end, after the 2016 suspension for using a banned substance. Regardless of the controversy caused by this particular event, Sharapova remains an inspiration for so many tennis players. This is due to the extraordinary perseverance that put her on the list of the best tennis players of all time. In her own words, “As I think you’ve seen throughout my career, my perseverance has been my greatest tool, my greatest strength,” an attitude highly regarded by her fans.
Australian born in 1972, Patrick Rafter reached the ATP Number 1 ranking in 1999, and kept it for one week only. This achievement came after winning two consecutive US Open Titles, in 1997 and 1998, single titles that earned him worldwide recognition. 1998 is seen today as the peak of his career since he became the first player to win US Open, Cincinnati, and Canada Masters.
What makes him a truly unique player, besides his fairly entertaining gameplay, is the winning record against Roger Federer. Rafter is the only player to never lose in front of the king of tennis, Federer, regardless of the tennis surface.
The Romanian Golden Boy of tennis, Ilie Nastase, is definitely a name that revolutionized the art of tennis. He was the first player to be ranked number 1 in the freshly new ATP system, back in 1973. The Davis Cup final in 1969 put him on the map, as well as being the best Romanian tennis player to gain international recognition.
By winning two Grand Slam singles titles – US Open in 1972 and French Open in 1973, Nastase secured his grandness. In terms of popularity, his volcanic nature has always created utterly fun live performances. This eventually led to the creation of the Code of Conduct in the tennis world.
The American born in 1970, Andre Agassi turned pro in 1986 and retired in 2006, with 8 Grand Slam Titles. The Rock Star of tennis, Agassi became an Olympic gold medalist in 1996 and shared a lifetime of success.
And the list can go on and on, as the number of players that made tennis into the exquisite sport we know today is way bigger. They all put in effort in terms of training, skills, and personal qualities to enrich this beautiful sport. Today, fans can enjoy – and even take their chances and bet on favorite matches via betting sites – those huge tournaments where famous players compete against each other. Not only through the game mastery, but also through this elegance, sportsmanship, and brilliance that turns tennis into the most refined sport out there.