Tennis has been around since the late 19th century, making it one of the world’s oldest games. Since then, tennis has come a long way, and records have been set, broken, and set again.
The fanfare surrounding tennis is well deserved. From Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Bjorn Borg to Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Maria Sharapova, and Gabriela Sabatini, some of the most talented athletes have held tennis rackets and wowed crowds with elite performances.
In this article, we’ll talk about the most remarkable tennis records to date—the records every avid fan of the game should know about.
Unbreakable Men’s Tennis Records
Athletic success is usually measured by the number of titles or trophies associated with the sport, and the more thrilling the road to a win, the more popular the winner. And while records are meant to be broken, there are just some that may never be.
Seven Wimbledons in Eight Years
Some of the most famous trophy streaks include the Los Angeles Lakers’ three-peat in the NBA from 2000 to 2002 and the Spanish soccer club Real Madrid’s 14 Champions League titles. They have so much traction and buzz because they aren’t commonplace or easy to achieve.
A tennis great, Pete Sampras was arguably one of the best grass court players ever. Sampras was especially dominant from 1993 to 2000. In those eight years, he won seven Wimbledon titles, a feat almost impossible to imagine today.
The only two players who have come anywhere near this eight-year record were Bjorn Borg and Roger Federer, who won five Wimbledons consecutively each, from 1976 to 1980 and from 2003 to 2007, respectively. Although FedEx would eventually win eight Wimbledon titles, breaking Sampras’s overall record, the 7-in-8 title remained elusive.
Sampras never lost a Wimbledon final, earning him the nickname “Pistol Pete.” The only Wimbledon loss he suffered during his 7-in-8 streak was to Richard Krajicek, who defeated him in the 1996 quarterfinals (and proceeded to win the championship).
Super European Grand Slam Combo
Winning a grand slam is a big deal, but for European players, winning in their own backyard might be that much sweeter. While plenty of famous tennis players have accomplished this, Bjorn Borg’s almost evenly matched French-Wimbledon numbers are especially impressive.
Borg won 11 European grand slam titles in his career, including six French Opens and five Wimbledon titles by age 25. So impressive is the Swede’s feat that although there have been other players who have claimed more titles in each of the European grand slams, no one has matched Borg’s overall dominance.
For context, the Big Three may each have more grand slam titles to their name, but none of them has come close to replicating Borg’s run, proving how daunting an accomplishment it is:
Roger Federer – 8 Wimbledon titles, 1 French Open
Rafael Nadal – 2 Wimbledon titles, 14 French Opens
Novak Djokovic – 6 Wimbledon titles, 2 French Opens
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Borg’s record is that he accomplished it from 1974 to 1981, winning some of these grand slams consecutively. It’s safe to say Borg is the Thanos of the tennis court, keeping everything (almost) perfectly balanced.
The Undisputed King of Clay
The clay court is often described as the most physically demanding in the game of tennis. Figuring out how to serve shots your opponent can’t return on clay often separates the winners from the losers, and matches on such surfaces can be grueling because they involve longer points.
Rafael Nadal, however, thrives in these conditions, judging from his haul at Roland-Garros, the only grand slam tournament played on clay.
By 2015, Nadal already held the French Open record for the most title wins, claiming nine in a decade (2005–2014). The thinking was that the clay court’s difficulty would make it unlikely that a single dominating force would emerge. However, Nadal has debunked this theory, while also proving that he’s not just a clay-court specialist.
In 2022, Nadal again won the French Open, his 14th Roland-Garros in 17 years. He is the tournament’s most celebrated competitor to date, with 12 of his wins on the clay court claimed over four consecutive years in three separate streaks. The first and most unexpected blemish to these glowing statistics was Nadal’s fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling in 2009, his first defeat at the French Open since his 2005 debut in the competition.
FedEx’s Major Finals Run
While they continue to set records and we continue to debate who the biggest of the Big Three is, one of the top tennis records that might just never be beaten belongs to Roger Federer.
While he is currently tied with Djokovic for most grand slam finals (31), Federer has an edge, having reached 18 finals from 19 consecutive grand slams from 2005 to 2010. From the 2005 Wimbledon final to the 2010 Australian Open final, the only one Federer didn’t reach was that of the 2008 Australian Open.
During this run, Federer also won 12 grand slam titles. At the same time, he is the only tennis player to have won the US Open five consecutive times.
Perfect Attendance at the US Open Finals
One of the most fascinating Open Era tennis records belongs to Ivan Lendl. The Czech-born player reached eight US Open finals consecutively from 1982 to 1989.
Even at the peak of his dominance, Federer only managed six consecutive US Open finals (2004-2009) before he was stunned by Djokovic in the semi-finals in 2010.
Lendl’s record is all the more significant given that no other tennis player has ever reached eight straight grand slam finals, not even Nadal with his dominance at the French Open.
Tennis Records – Women’s Singles
All the previously mentioned records refer to the men’s singles category. Now let’s take a look at women’s tennis and its shining stars.
Grand Slam Streak Queens
The Indianapolis Colts hold the record for the longest regular season winning streak in the NFL (23 matches), set between 2008 and 2009. In tennis, the record for the most tennis titles in a consecutive streak at grand slam tournaments is shared by three women: Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, and Martina Navratilova. All won six grand slams in a row over the following periods:
- Maureen Connolly—from 1952 Wimbledon to the 1953 US Open
- Margaret Court—from the 1969 US Open to the 1971 Australian Open
- Martina Navratilova—from 1983 Wimbledon to the 1984 US Open
Most Match Wins
Serena Williams holds the record for the most tennis grand slam match wins (365). Martina Navratilova follows, with 306 wins. Serena Williams is also second on the list of most appearances (79) at grand slam tournaments, with her sister Venus Williams holding the top spot with 90 appearances.
Most Titles Won
Winning a grand slam tournament only once is a fabulous achievement, but some all-time greats have a jaw-dropping 20+ titles to their names. Margaret Court holds the record for the most grand slam singles titles with 24, ahead of Serena Williams with 23 and Steffi Graf with 22.
While this kind of stat would be more fitting for a Mortal Kombat game, some tournament sweeps have seen players not lose a single set. In the Open Era, which began in 1968, the holders of the most grand slam titles won without losing a single set are Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams, with six each. However, Helen Wills Moody holds the all-time record (13).
Most Titles Per Individual Major Tournament
Serena Williams holds the record for the most titles per individual grand slam. She has won 23 in total (seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledon titles, and six US Opens).
Steffi Graf comes in second with 22 major titles and joins Serena Williams as the only woman to have won a minimum of three titles at all four major tournaments.
ATP & WTA Tennis Records
The following section includes both WTA and ATP records.
Most Titles and Finals
Babe Ruth is considered the most successful baseball player of all time, based on his career exploits. Using the same metric, his equivalent in ATP tennis would be Roger Federer, who holds the record for most tennis titles and finals for an active player with 103 and 157, respectively. The other Big Three members, Nadal and Djokovic, are second and third with (92 and 130) and (87 and 125) respectively.
Jimmy Connors holds the overall record for most men’s titles, with 109 from 1,557 matches and 1,274 match wins. In the WTA, Martina Navratilova has the most titles overall, with 167 wins from 239 finals.
Most Matches Played
While Connors holds the ATP record in tennis with 1,557 matches played, Federer is not far behind (1,526). FedEx has won 1,251 and has a win percentage of 82%.
In the WTA, Martina Navratilova holds the record, with 1,661 matches played and 1,442 won. In the Open Era, Serena Williams has played the most matches in grand slams, with 419 matches overall and 365 won.
Most Big Titles
Novak Djokovic has won the most “big titles” (63). According to the ATP, big titles are grand slams, the Olympics, ATP finals, and Masters tournaments. Djokovic has also reached the largest number of these finals (93).
Tennis Grand Slam Records
Rafael Nadal has won the most grand slam titles, winning 22 from 30 finals. Federer and Djokovic are tied in second place, with 20 titles won from 31 finals each.
Setting a Calendar Trend
Don Budge was the first player to win all four major titles in one calendar year. This actually came in a streak of six consecutive majors, starting from Wimbledon in 1937 to the 1938 US Championships. He achieved this at the age of 23.
Since then, only four other players have managed to win all the grand slams in one calendar year: Rod Laver (1962 and 1969), Steffi Graf (1988), Maureen Connolly (1953), and Margaret Court (1970).
Laver is the only player to have done it twice, earning him a rare spot in the tennis grand slam records’ hall of fame.
Doing It Differently
While some players have won all the grand slams in one calendar year, Novak Djokovic holds the record as the only player in the Open Era who has held all four grand slam titles at the same time but not in the same calendar year, starting with Wimbledon in 2015 and ending with the French Open in 2016.
Despite not doing it in a single year, this feat is still impressive since no other player has ever achieved it, according to grand slam records.
Six Majors in a Row
Don Budge is the only player in men’s tennis history to have won six majors in a row: Wimbledon, the US Championships, the Australian Championships, the French Championships, then Wimbledon and the US Championships again, from 1937 to 1938. In doing so, he set one of the biggest majors records ever.
Career Grand Slam
Only eight players in the history of men’s tennis have achieved a career grand slam: Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. They all won each major throughout their careers.
Who is the best 2022 tennis player?
According to the current ATP rankings, Daniil Medvedev holds the number one spot with 8,160 points. Iga Swiatek tops the 2022 WTA rankings with 8,576 points.
Who holds the most tennis records?
In the modern era, Roger Federer holds the most major title records: 103 ATP titles and six ATP finals.
Who has won the most Wimbledon titles?
Roger Federer has won the most Wimbledon titles: eight.