The Top 5 Most Influential Players Tennis History

Tennis has a rich history, with many legendary players who have left their mark on the sport. From the early days of the game to the modern era, there have been many players who have had a significant impact on the game and helped to shape it into what it is today. In this article, we will take a look at the 5 most influential players in tennis history.

These players have all achieved great success on the court, winning numerous Grand Slam titles and setting new records along the way. But their influence goes beyond just their on-court achievements. They have also made significant contributions to the sport off the court, inspiring future generations of players and helping to grow the game around the world.

Whether you are a die-hard tennis fan or just a casual observer of the sport, you are sure to recognize these names. They are some of the most famous tennis players of all time, and their impact on the game is undeniable. So let’s take a closer look at the 5 most influential players in tennis history and see what made them so special.

Defining Influence in Tennis

When discussing the most influential players in tennis history, it is important to distinguish between greatness and influence. While greatness can be defined by a player’s individual accomplishments, such as the number of Grand Slams won or the length of time spent at the top of the rankings, influence entails changing the sport itself. This can include innovations in technique and strategy, efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity, or even simply increasing the popularity of the sport.

Some of the most iconic tennis players in history, such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams, are undoubtedly greats of the game. However, when it comes to influence, there are a few players who stand out above the rest. These tennis player famous for their contributions to the sport both on and off the court, and their legacies continue to shape the game today.

One of the greatest tennis stars of all time, Billie Jean King, is perhaps best known for her advocacy for gender equality in tennis. In 1973, she famously defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” match, which helped to promote the idea that women’s tennis was just as exciting and competitive as men’s tennis. King also played a key role in the founding of the Women’s Tennis Association, which helped to establish a more formal structure for women’s professional tennis.

Another tennis great who had a significant influence on the sport is Arthur Ashe. In addition to his impressive playing career, which included three Grand Slam titles, Ashe was a vocal advocate for racial equality and social justice. He fought against apartheid in South Africa and helped to establish the National Junior Tennis League, which aimed to make tennis more accessible to children from underprivileged backgrounds.

These are just a few examples of the tennis greats who have had a defining influence on the sport. By pushing boundaries, breaking down barriers, and promoting inclusivity, they have helped to shape the game into what it is today.

Billie Jean King – Fighting for Equality

Billie Jean King is one of the most influential American tennis players in history. She has won 39 Grand Slam titles in her tennis career and is known for her advocacy for women in sports and gender equality. In this section, we’ll explore her impact on women’s tennis and how she fought for equality.

Impact on Women’s Tennis

King’s impact on women’s tennis is immeasurable. She was the first female athlete to earn more than $100,000 in prize money in a single season, paving the way for equal pay in tennis. In 1970, she joined eight other women tennis players to protest against the inequity in prize money, which led to the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

King’s efforts did not stop there. She also played a significant role in creating a professional women’s tour, ensuring opportunity and fair compensation. Her leadership and advocacy for gender equality have inspired generations of female athletes to pursue their dreams and fight for equal treatment.

Battle of the Sexes

One of the most notable moments of King’s sports career was the “Battle of the Sexes” match of 1973. After 55-year-old tennis star Bobby Riggs said he was better than any female tennis player, Riggs called for a game against King. The two then played a match in Houston on September 20th that drew a lot of attention.

King’s victory over Riggs was not just a win for her but also for women in sports. The event transcended tennis and impacted societal views on women in sports. It showed that women could compete at the highest level and deserve the same respect and recognition as men.

Titles and Accolades

King’s impact on tennis and gender equality has not gone unnoticed. She has received numerous titles and accolades throughout her career, including:

  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • International Tennis Hall of Fame
  • Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award

Arthur Ashe – Breaking Barriers & Gentlemanly Conduct

Arthur Ashe was one of the most influential players in the history of tennis, and his legacy extends far beyond the court. As the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam title, he broke down barriers and paved the way for future generations of players.

Legacy Beyond the Court

Ashe’s impact on the sport of tennis was not just limited to his on-court success. He was a trailblazer for American men in tennis, and his Grand Slam titles helped open doors for future generations of players. However, his legacy extends far beyond his achievements on the court.

Ashe was a powerful voice for social justice and activism, using his platform to raise awareness and advocate for change. He was a thoughtful and intelligent spokesperson for a wide range of issues, from civil rights to HIV/AIDS awareness.

But Ashe was also an example of how on-court behavior shapes the perception of the sport. He was known for his gentlemanly conduct on the court, and his sportsmanship helped elevate the game of tennis to new heights.

First African-American Winner

As the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam title, Ashe faced substantial prejudice and discrimination. His victory at the 1968 US Open was a landmark moment in the history of the sport, and it helped break down barriers for future generations of players.

But Ashe’s success was not just significant for African-Americans. He was a trailblazer for all American men in tennis, and his achievements helped open doors for players of all backgrounds.


Ashe was a powerful advocate for social justice and activism, using his platform to raise awareness and advocate for change. He was a thoughtful and intelligent spokesperson for a wide range of issues, from civil rights to HIV/AIDS awareness.

Ashe’s quiet but powerful stance on social issues was an inspiration to many, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations of players and activists.


Ashe’s gentlemanly conduct on the court helped elevate the game of tennis to new heights. He was known for his fair play and sportsmanship, and his example set a high standard for future generations of players.

Ashe’s legacy as a player and a person is a testament to the power of sports to inspire and uplift. He will always be remembered as one of the most influential players in the history of tennis, and his impact on the sport and the world will be felt for generations to come.

Björn Borg – Ice-Cool Champion & the Rise of the Baseline Game

When it comes to tennis history, few players have made as big an impact as Björn Borg. With 11 Grand Slam singles titles to his name, including five consecutive Wimbledon titles, Borg’s legacy is cemented in the annals of tennis history. But it wasn’t just his impressive record that made him stand out.

Innovation in Play Style

Borg was instrumental in popularizing the two-handed backhand, which has since become a standard technique in the sport. His mastery of this technique allowed him to dominate from the baseline, shifting the focus of the game from serve-and-volley to power and consistency from the backcourt. This gave rise to a new era of tennis, where players relied on their athleticism and endurance to outlast their opponents.

Ice-Cool Champion

Borg’s stoic demeanor on the court earned him the nickname “The Ice Man.” He was known for his unflappable nature, never showing emotion even in the midst of intense competition. This cool-headedness allowed him to stay focused and make calculated decisions, even in high-pressure situations like Wimbledon finals.

Teen Idol & Tennis Boom

Borg’s success on the court made him a household name, and his good looks and charming personality turned him into a teen idol. He inspired a new generation of fans and players worldwide, ushering in a new era of tennis popularity. The sport experienced a boom in the 1970s, with more people than ever before taking up the game.

Borg’s legacy continues to inspire players today, and his impact on tennis cannot be overstated. His influence on the game is felt in every aspect, from the techniques used by players to the popularity of the sport itself. Thanks to Borg, tennis will always be a thrilling and competitive sport, full of passion and excitement.

Steffi Graf – Golden Slam & Unmatched Elegance

Steffi Graf is undoubtedly one of the most influential players in tennis history. Her accomplishments in the sport are unmatched, and she has set the standard for women’s tennis.

A Standard in Women’s Tennis

Graf’s most notable achievement was her Golden Slam in 1988. She became the only player in tennis history to win all four Grand Slam singles titles and Olympic gold in a single calendar year. This feat is a testament to her adaptability and dominance on all surfaces.

Throughout her career, Graf showcased her adaptable dominance by countering power players and finesse players of her era. Her ability to excel on all surfaces is a testament to her versatility and skill.

Moreover, Graf was known for her grace under pressure. She was always composed in high-stakes matches, which helped her win numerous titles throughout her career.

Roger Federer – Global Icon & Timeless Technique

Roger Federer is one of the most famous tennis players of all time. He is considered by many as the greatest tennis player of all time, and his record of winning 20 Grand Slams is unlikely to be ever broken. Federer has managed to redefine longevity in tennis, peaking into his 30s and changing perceptions of how long a top career can last.

Embodiment of Tennis Excellence

Federer’s all-court mastery is a throwback style that has succeeded in a modern power-driven era. He has a unique and timeless technique that sets him apart from his rivals. Federer’s technique is based on his exceptional footwork, balance, and coordination, which allows him to hit shots with incredible accuracy and consistency.

Federer’s backhand is one of his most famous shots. He generates far more spin than that of his rivals, making it difficult for his opponents to return. His backhand is a testament to his all-court mastery and his ability to adapt to different playing styles.

Federer is not only a great tennis player but also a global ambassador for the sport. His immense popularity has expanded tennis’ reach into new markets worldwide. He has helped to make tennis a truly global sport, and his influence can be seen in the growing popularity of the sport in countries such as China and India.

Federer’s legacy in tennis is secure, and he will be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time. His unique and timeless technique, combined with his global appeal, has made him a true icon of the sport.


While these players left an indelible mark on tennis, their influence isn’t merely history. Today’s rising stars stand on the shoulders of these giants. We might be witnessing the Serena Williams or Roger Federer of tomorrow – someone whose changes to the sport will be the subject of articles decades from now. The cycle of influence in tennis never truly ends.



Question: Who is considered the most influential female tennis player of all time?

Answer: Billie Jean King is widely regarded as the most influential female tennis player. Her tireless fight for gender equality, both on and off the court, revolutionized women’s sports. She was instrumental in founding the WTA and her iconic “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs boosted the visibility and respect for women’s tennis globally.


Question: Which tennis player popularized the two-handed backhand?

Answer: Björn Borg brought the two-handed backhand into the mainstream. His powerful, topspin-heavy groundstrokes, driven by this technique, changed the baseline game and became a blueprint for many modern players.


Question: Besides on-court achievements, how else have tennis players been influential?

Answer: Many influential tennis players used their platforms to address broader issues. Arthur Ashe became a symbol of quiet dignity and activism against racial injustice. Billie Jean King relentlessly championed equal pay and opportunities for female athletes. More recently, players like Serena Williams and Roger Federer have become global ambassadors for the sport, inspiring new generations of fans.


Question: Who is a great example of longevity and adaptability in tennis?

Answer: Roger Federer exemplifies longevity and adaptability. He maintained top form well into his 30s, changing perceptions of peak athletic age. His all-court game thrived in a power-dominated era, proving that diverse styles can succeed at the highest level.

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