Tennis players of the century

Rod Laver beat out the player who grew up idolizing him, Pete Sampras, as the men's tennis player of the century, and Steffi Graf edged Martina Navratilova as the top women's player in a poll conducted by The Associated Press.

Rod Laver beat out the player who grew up idolizing him, Pete Sampras, as the men's tennis player of the century, and Steffi Graf edged Martina Navratilova as the top women's player in a poll conducted by The Associated Press.

Laver, assembled by The AP, while Sampras received no first-place votes and 39 points.

Bill Tilden, who dominated men's play in the 1920s, finished third with the help of one first-place vote.

Dubbed the "Rocket," Laver is the only double Grand Slammer in history. He won the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US titles in 1962 as an amateur, then repeated the feat in 1969 as a pro.

He attacked the net relentlessly, yet possessed a potent all-around game from the baseline.

Laver won the Australian singles title three times, the French twice, Wimbledon four times, and the US twice.

He probably would have won many more majors but was banned from the Grand Slam events in his prime after he turned pro in 1963. He did not return to the majors until the open era in 1968, then he promptly won Wimbledon for the third time.

Sampras always listed Laver as his favorite player, admiring the completeness of his game, his aggressive style on court, and his gentlemanly demeanor off court.

Although Sampras owns 12 major singles titles, including six at Wimbledon, he has never gone beyond the semi-finals in 10 appearances at the French Open. That failure on clay led one voter to omit him from the top 10 list, while another rated him only No 5.

Bjorn Borg of Sweden and winner of five straight Wimbledon titles from 1976 to 1980, finished fourth, followed by Don Budge, the first player to complete a Grand Slam in 1938.

John McEnroe and Lew Hoad of Australia, tied for sixth place, Roy Emerson and Ken Rosewall, both Australians, tied for eighth, and Jack Kramer finished 10th.

Hoad and Pancho Gonzales, scintillating players in the 1950s who limited their play in majors by turning pro in their prime, each garnered one first-place vote.

In the women's poll, Graf and Navratilova were separated by a point, 52-51, and were followed by Margaret Smith Court - the winner of 24 Grand Slam titles. Billie Jean King, who holds the most Wimbledon titles, with 20 (6 singles and 14 doubles titles) was fourth on the list. Chris Evert was fifth followed by Suzanne Lenglen of France, Helen Wills Moody, Maureen Connolly, Monica Seles of Yugoslavia, and a tie for No 10 between Evonne Goolagong of Australia and Martina Hingis of Switzerland.

Graf, of Germany, retired at 30 in 1999 after her emotional victory at the French Open, her sixth at Roland Garros, and a runner-up finish at Wimbledon, where she had won seven times. She is the only player to complete a Golden Slam - winning the four majors and the Olympics in 1988.

Four voters ranked Graf No 1, one listed Navratilova, a Czech native, as the best, and another put King at the top, in part because of her influence on the game as the founder of the WTA Tour.

The AP panel included six players whose careers spanned six decades: Ted Schroeder, Fred Stolle, Barry MacKay, Pam Shriver, Wendy Turnbull and Virginia Wade. Turnbull and Stolle are Australian, while Wade is from England.

"Ranking players of different eras is completely subjective," said Schroeder, who won the US title in 1942 and Wimbledon in 1949 and has been a keen observer of the sport ever since.

"My selections are based on levels of competition in their respective eras."

Among the surprises in the voting were the low regard the panelists had for Ivan Lendl, who dominated the 1980s with eight major singles titles at the Australian, French and US Open, and two runner-up finishes at Wimbledon. One panelist ranked him No seven, another No 9, and the others left him off their lists entirely.

Andre Agassi, the only man to complete a career Golden Slam by winning the four majors and the Olympic gold, also failed to make the top 10 as he totaled 10 points, with no votes higher than No 7.

Others receiving votes were Jimmy Connors, Fred Perry, John Newcombe, Jean Borotra, Rene Lacoste and Arthur Ashe.

Other women who received votes were Althea Gibson, Maria Bueno, Alice Marble, Tracy Austin, Doris Hart, Helen Jacobs, and Lindsay Davenport.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice