The Times’ definitive list of the top Wimbledon players

Pete Sampras

It’s 14 days until the start of Wimbledon. As the tennis world puts its clay-caked clothes through a heavy wash and takes its whites out of the cupboard, we can start the serious business of becoming Wimbledon obsessives.

First today is Neil Harman, the Times’ tennis writer, who has created the “definitive list of the top Wimbledon players”. Rafael Nadal higher than Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker? And Chris Evert at 10? What do you think?

20. Ann Jones
19. Rosie Casals
18. Kitty Godfree
17. Evonne Goolagong
16. Elizabeth Ryan
15. Charlotte Cooper
14. Louise Brough
13. Lottie Dodd
12. Maria Bueno
11. Dorothea Lambert-Chambers
10. Chris Evert
9. Althea Gibson
8. Margaret Court
7. Helen Wills
6. Venus Williams
5. Maureen Connolly
4. Billie Jean King
3. Suzanne Lenglen
2. Steffi Graf
1. Martina Navratilova

20. Goran Ivanisevic
19. Jean Borotra
18. Todd Woodbridge
17. Stefan Edberg
16. Lew Hoad
15. John Newcombe
14. Don Budge
13. Roy Emerson
12. William Renshaw
11. Rafael Nadal
10. Reggie Doherty
9. Bill Tilden
8. Anthony Wilding
7. Boris Becker
6. Fred Perry
5. John McEnroe
4. Rod Laver
3. Bjorn Borg
2. Roger Federer
1. Pete Sampras

You can read Neil’s reasons here.


  1. Posted 8 June, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    RAFAEL NADAL is the best tennis player ever !!!!! ❤

  2. Sabrina
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    ❤ FeDeReR (L).! :] No1.! :)))

  3. Dale C. Avellanosa
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    This is a good and significant list… i believe Roger will be at the top of the list soon and Rafa an immediate second 🙂 Now, time can only tell if Rafa will eventually overtake Federer in this Wimbledon list 🙂 at the moment, these 2 are the strongest, most impressive and talented players on tour and deserve to be on top 🙂

  4. Gianluca
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Hey, did you ever hear this name:
    Jimmy Connors!?!?!?!

  5. Jaba
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Federer all the way…!
    In about 2 weeks, Federer will be again the Number 1 !

  6. Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    where is lleyton hewitt he is the winner of 2002 and he plays goodn in the grass

  7. Daniele
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I think it’s correct list, Sampras in better then Federer

  8. Gvantsa
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Oh, I absolutely egree with these results. Pete Sampras is the Best Tennis Player of all time, he is Genious!!!

  9. Posted 8 June, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I’m from Holland so I miss our hero Richard Krajicek. He is the only one that defeated Pete Sampras on Wimbledon between 1993 and 2000 and he would go on to win the title. An exceptional effort I think.

  10. Posted 8 June, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    great list. it’s nice to see roger at second, and pete definitely deserves the top spot

  11. Francis
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Great List of Wimbledon Champions, i love Pete Sampras but i believe Roger can beat his record. For the ladies, it’s great to see Martina on top, she deserves it but not bad for my all time favorite Steffi Graf who finishes at second place…whoever made this list i commend you for a job well done 🙂

  12. Dodo
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    i think this ranking is ordinary f0r men but where is agassi ? while in w0men i do n0t see neither m.henges n0r m.sharap0va

  13. cro_star
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Goran is the best!!!

  14. Posted 8 June, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    i honestly think this could be federer’s chance to reclaim his crown…would he also overtake nadal in the number 1 spot?

  15. Mark
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    You actually think Nadal should be at number 2 for winning 1 title?

  16. Marcel
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I think it is very difficult to compare between different times. What strikes me: a lot of players I don’t know are in the list. Very difficult to say if these were better than the ones who are not in the list like Hewitt, Connors or Krajicek.

    The top3 is correct I think. Sampras won it 7 times, Federer and Borg 5 times in a row, loosing their sixth final. Also nice: Federer was the first player to beat Sampras after his 7th win in 2001.
    So: Sampras is the better grass player up till now, Federer could become the best player on grass. Winning on clay yesterday made him the best already (to my opinion).

  17. Dipika
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    No Doubt,Federer is the BEST!! and also Pete Sampras

  18. anisa
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I would have to say the Sampras was the best player of his generation. However, it is difficult to say whether federer is the best player of his generation when he has been defeated by Rafael Nadal on numerous occassions.

  19. Chris Harvey
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Ice King BORG should be number one. I’d like to see Sampras and Federer play with the small wooden Donnay racquet that Bjorn did. Bet they wouldn’t fare quite so well…

  20. Jester
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Sampras has the most titles here so he deserves the ranking for this list. But this is only the list for Wimbledon.

    Federer is the best overall. Ever.

  21. Boris
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    And where is TIM HENMAN?

  22. Jester
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Sampras has the most titles here and should be No 1 on this list. Federer is the all around best though. Ever.

  23. Jorge Loya
    Posted 8 June, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Roger will be the # 1 finishing Wimbledon, he’s back.

  24. justin
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Venus should be in the top 3 of all time. #6? The only #6 I see for Venus is her 6th title at Wimb’s.

    Every year it’s the same: she has a bad French showing so she gets under-valued going into All England and her accomplishments are diminished in the press. I’m crying FOUL.

    Good luck this year V – we know you will do it again! Maybe #6 has a good ring to it after all. 🙂

  25. Pat Dagapioso
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 1:47 am | Permalink


    serena williams is not on the list???

    she just won 2 wimbledon titles from 2002 and on 2003…lost in the final in 2004…and became runner up again in 2008….

    won 3 doubles titles, and 1 mixed doubles title..

    indeed along with billie jean, and martina navratilova, she won all events in wimbledon to say!!!

  26. steve gardner
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Being Australlian I cannot understand how Todd Woodbridge gets in and you leave out Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt. Todd was a fine doubles player but struggled at singles. The other two won or made the final at Wimbledon

  27. Andre Delgado
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    How is Venus Williams #6 on this list. As far as I’m concerned Venus Williams could in this day and age defeat anyone of those players on grass pretty handily. She’s the best grasscourt player of her generation and maybe of any generation.

  28. Chris
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    These lists are always subjective, but Federer now has to be No 1. They always forget names too! Why no Monica Seles? Or Justine Henin? (Ann Jones? – come on, get your head out of the sand!)And Ken Rosewell? I love watching Venus Williams play but she’s more Top 20 than No. 6 (and not above Chris Evert!)

  29. Farook
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    It is not acceptable that Rafael Nadal is higher than Becker(Winner 1985,86 & 89) and Edberg (Winner 1988 & 90). If Ivanisevic(1 time champion) is in No. 20 then where is Agassi he defeated ivani in 1992. List is partially wrong

  30. Alex
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The list is quite correct, but there are some names that are missing… Connors, Nastase, Lendl

  31. Anthony Joseph Pike
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    One would expect wimbledon to pay close attention to detail as in dress code, as it was lack thereof that led to fate accompli, in the Australian Open. Would it not be good to see no players wearing colours as to give distinct advantage . cheerz yo

  32. wendy
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    where is tim henman. ok he never made the final but he certainly gave his all and supplied us with entertainment. no two matches ever the same. he will always be the best for me

  33. Gloria
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I think Chris Evert should be higher on the list, for all the finals she played I know she only won (ONLY) 3 titles, her great rivalry with Navratilova was the greatest rivalry in any sport, it was very fitting they ended there career’s with each with a total of 18 grand slam singles titles

  34. Peter Lawery
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Rod Laver was & always be The Greatest.

  35. Jeremy
    Posted 9 June, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s ridiculous that Stefan Edberg is ranked 17th on this list. More so, that Rafael Nadal is ranked higher. While I have tremendous respect for Nadal’s talent, work ethic and previous accomplishments, he has up to now won Wimbledon once. Edberg has played three consecutive finals against Boris Becker and won two of those encounters. He was the quintessential grass court player, with a classic serve and volley game that was unrivalled. One must also consider that he deployed this game during a time where modern day power tennis was just arising. In my opinion that makes his feat even more remarkable.

  36. Posted 10 June, 2009 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Any list is fun to do, but ultimately impossible.

    Still, rating Nadal anywhere near the top after only one victory is not only silly, but symptomatic of the pre-glorification of Nadal.

    If Wimbledon hadn’t dramatically slowed down play (larger balls, packed dirt, thick grass) to eliminate serve-and-volley do you seriously think Nadal could have won a single set against Sampras, Krajicek, Becker on a fast, grass court? No way.

  37. Stan
    Posted 17 June, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Chris Evert should definitely be higher than #10. In two decades of appearances she only failed to reach the semis or better on only one occasion. Her remarkable consistency on her worst surface against serve and volleying juggernauts of the 70’s and 80’s is truly astonishing. She won the title THREE times folks and in what alternate reality is that considered paltry? How many titles would anyone else have won if every year Martina Navratilova were standing on the other side of the net. Also, to have Rosie Casals on this list but to exclude Serena Williams AND Lindsay Davenport is truly mind boggling!!!! Not so very… Well Done, love!

  38. kiwi steve
    Posted 17 June, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the men – you take out those who won under the old challenger system since to be fair they didn’t play in the tournament proper – they played the winner of a tournament in order to determine the Wimbledon Champion. So – Renshaw, Docherty, and Wilding all should be dismissed. Woodbridge never won Wimbledon and so is dismissed. Those winning once should hardly count: Nadal and Ivanisevic in this case. Several of the players here won only twice – Edberg, Hoad, Budge, Emerson, Borotra. However, Borotra made the final a further 3 times. Post-challenger three time winners deserve to be in the list – so you have the likes of Perry, Newcombe, Becker, and Tilden all being automatic selections.
    My top 10 for Wimbledon would be:
    1. Sampras
    2. Federer
    3. Borg
    4. Laver
    5. McEnroe
    6. Becker
    7. Tilden
    8. Perry
    9. Newcombe
    10. Connors (the best of the 2 time winners in my view)

  39. kiwi steve
    Posted 17 June, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the women – again take out the challenger era players (Cooper, Dodd, Lambert-Chambers). Surprisingly – Blanche Bingley Hillyard is completely missing (she won 6 times) but she is a challenger era player and should be omitted. Ryan and Casals never won Wimbledon – she was runner-up twice. Jones won just once (and runner up once too). Godfree and Gibson both won twice.
    So, my top 10 for Wimbledon is:
    1. Martina Navratilova
    2. Steffi Graf
    3. Suzanne Lenglan
    4. Billie Jean King
    5. Helen Wills Moody
    6. Venus Williams
    7. Maureen Connolly
    8. Louise Brough
    9. Margaret Smith Court
    10. Chris Evert

  40. Anuj Vasant
    Posted 18 June, 2009 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Federer is the greatest player acording to me…
    nadal ssould not even be in the top 20…
    let alone 11th place!!! that is just non-sense!!!!!

  41. Tushar Radke
    Posted 18 June, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I wonder what the basis of any list like this is. The reasons given say nothing about why Laver is ranked so far ahead of Lew Hoad. And to place Reggie Doherty and Anthony Wilding ahead of the likes of Hoad and Edberg is almost a joke. They won a few matches and played at a time when tennis was a very different sport.
    I agree with the top 5 men. Thereafter the list loses any value to me. Jimmy Connors and Ken Rosewall even though he never won in 4 finals deserve a place on the list. And in my opinion Edberg and Goran should be higher on this list than Rafa. Maybe have Andre Agassi on the list as well.
    Women’s list is actually somewhat funny. Amazing to see Chris Evert ranked so low after all she achieved over more than a decade. No arguments with the top 2 though.

  42. giamci italy.
    Posted 20 June, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    dont know if rating rafa 11th in the list is too high or viceversa what I know is that he was very near victory in 2007 and the way he played in 2008 against the player supposed to be the best, or so, in tennis should be valued a lot. anyway I am pleased to see him in the list. he deserves this and more. people forget that last year he was barely 22 and very seldom played on grass. all the best RAFA. with some luck you’ll be on grass victorious again and again.

  43. JohnnyH
    Posted 22 June, 2009 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Edberg #17…. is that a joke and Goran as #20 behind Todd Woodbridge (#18)…has to be a joke

  44. kwangjin,kim
    Posted 22 June, 2009 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    where is Andrea agassi,,,maybe, he is higher than Boris becker

  45. Posted 15 October, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    My personal top five (bearing in mind I started watching Wimbledon in 1971 – hence no Laver/Newcombe concept):
    Connors (for longevity and space between his 2 Championships)

  46. Posted 15 March, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I was say that Andre Agassi should be in there! I don’t know how he can be missed out.

  47. Posted 29 November, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Rafa you are the one

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