Who are the most famous players in history?

KG1965

Legend
Taking the example of the popularity discussion that started in another thread, I start a thread relating exclusively to fame.
I would like to understand the various opinions divided between the different continents.

The feeling is that (as in every other sport) every continent has a different impression.

My observation tells me that in North America:
1) Federer
2) Connors
3) McEnroe
4) Nadal
5) Borg

In West-Europe
1) Federer
2) Borg
3) Nadal
4) Laver
5) McEnroe

In East-Europe
1) Federer
2) Djokovic
3) Nadal
4) .....
5) .....

On other continents? (South America, Asia....)

Discuss.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
I have no idea how this even measurable. Nadal is every bit as famous as Federer. Borg and McEnroe may have been more famous in relative terms, since tennis was supposedly bigger in their day. But does it even work like that? Tennis may have a bigger global reach today, even though we keep being told it was a bigger sport in the 1970's and 1980's.

Who the hell knows!
 

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
for a sort of global (or at least pan-Western) fame:

tier one: fed, borg, mcenroe. These have become a part of the popular culture, and a reasonably aware person will know them even if they don't care about tennis.

tier two: nadal, agassi -- again achieved a very broad pop culture fame, just arguably not quite as massive as the three above.

The Williams sisters would be somewhere up there as well -- very widely known. Sharapova and Kournikova, lol. I guess Evert and Navratilova were very famous back in the day.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
for a sort of global (or at least pan-Western) fame:

tier one: fed, borg, mcenroe. These have become a part of the popular culture, and a reasonably aware person will know them even if they don't care about tennis.

tier two: nadal, agassi -- again achieved a very broad pop culture fame,
There is no way you know about Federer, without knowing about Nadal. Their rivalry has gone beyond tennis into pop culture and people who don't follow the sport.

If you've heard of Federer, you've heard of Nadal. If Fed is tier one in fame, so is Nadal.
 

Sysyphus

Talk Tennis Guru
There is no way you know about Federer, without knowing about Nadal. Their rivalry has gone beyond tennis into pop culture and people who don't follow the sport.

If you've heard of Federer, you've heard of Nadal. If Fed is tier one in fame, so is Nadal.
sure, you can definitely make an argument for having Nadal in the top tier, sort of like Borg and Mac elevated each other too and always join each other in the same sentence in posterity.

But most people would seem to agree that however famous Nadal is, Fed is a bigger global star and icon still. You don't, but that seems to be the minority (and mostly Nadal fan) opinion.
 

Hitman

Legend
Taking the example of the popularity discussion that started in another thread, I start a thread relating exclusively to fame.
I would like to understand the various opinions divided between the different continents.

The feeling is that (as in every other sport) every continent has a different impression.

My observation tells me that in North America:
1) Federer
2) Connors
3) McEnroe
4) Nadal
5) Borg

In West-Europe
1) Federer
2) Borg
3) Nadal
4) Laver
5) McEnroe

In East-Europe
1) Federer
2) Djokovic
3) Nadal
4) .....
5) .....

On other continents? (South America, Asia....)

Discuss.
Discuss?

Didn't you make a thread on this already and we already went into a deep discussion on it? Why make the same thread again?
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
But most people would seem to agree that however famous Nadal is, Fed is a bigger global star and icon still. You don't, but that seems to be the minority (and mostly Nadal fan) opinion.
Ehh...I think media conditioning has (wrongly) convinced many (mainly Fed fans) that he is some untoppable icon, when currently (if you go by social media following) Nadal is more popular.

They are equally iconic tennis stars. Fedal is a thing for a reason.

Edit: But yeah, I have to agree with others that this thread is basically a rehash of the other one.
 

KG1965

Legend
Basically the questions are: given that it is the most famous in all continents,

in West Europe
1) is Nadal or Djokovic more famous?
2) are Sampras and Agassi as famous as ... Connors and McEnroe?
3) Laver and the old Australian legends are famous as for example Agassi?

in East Europe
1) is Djokovic the most all time famous player together (with Federer)?
2) who are the most famous players of the past? (Laver or Lendl or Connors or Sampras or Borg or McEnroe .....)

in North America
1) who is the most famous american? Sampras or Connors? Or McEnroe? Or old myths (Budge, Kramer and Gonzalez) ?
2) Borg is considered more famous than the americans in the previous point 1?
3) Borg is more famous than Nadal and Djokovic?

In Australia
1) the old Australian legends (Laver, Rosewall, Hoad, Newcombe ..) are more famous than the 70s/80s stars ?
2) Is Rosewall or Sampras more famous?
3) Is Laver or Nadal more famous in South America? And Asia?

in South America ? And Asia ?
 

Russeljones

G.O.A.T.
Enough people alive to include the likes of Laver, Connors, Lendl, Sampras, Agassi, Becker and Chang alongside those already mentioned.
 

KG1965

Legend
Isn't kinda the same as popular?:unsure:
No, I thought so but some posters have corrected me.
In fact, the difference is one of substance.
Famous person = known person.
Popular person = known person but not hated by a multitude.

Case in point are Hitler and Stalin: everyone knows them but almost everyone hates them. So they are very famous but not popular, unpopular indeed.

Reasoning in terms of tennis, champions like Connors, Court, McEnroe, Lendl, Djokovic and Serena are very famous but being very loved by many people but also unbearable for many people, they cannot be called popular.
 

Estirpe Divina

New User
No, I thought so but some posters have corrected me.
In fact, the difference is one of substance.
Famous person = known person.
Popular person = known person but not hated by a multitude.

Case in point are Hitler and Stalin: everyone knows them but almost everyone hates them. So they are very famous but not popular, unpopular indeed.

Reasoning in terms of tennis, champions like Connors, Court, McEnroe, Lendl, Djokovic and Serena are very famous but being very loved by many people but also unbearable for many people, they cannot be called popular.
Ok.(y)
 
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Gorecki

G.O.A.T.
1 - Vijay Amritraj
3 - Juan Gisbert Sr.
12 - Haroon Rahim
4 - Jeff Borowiak
137 - Jean Francois Cajoulle (*)
9 - Sniffles

(*) Jean Francois became famous not so much for his prolific tennis career but more because of inventing the Cajoulle, a wide loved lightweight, weatherproof half zipped anorak with a hood, that made sucess among casual footbal scene in the 80's.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
North America:
- Serena, Venus, Evert, Federer, Agassi, Mac, Connors, Nadal, Sharapova and Kournikova

Western Europe (I’m guessing):
- Federer, Borg, Becker, Nadal, Agassi, Graf, Sharapova and Serena (maybe throw in Murray, Edberg, and Hingis as well) - based on what I’ve heard, MAC and Connors were viewed as “ugly Americans” in the EU back in the 70s/80s so although famous, they weren’t the most “popular” among the crowds in comparison to some of their peers

Eastern Europe (I’m guessing):
- Navratilova, Djokovic, Sharapova, Kournikova, Lendl, Seles, Federer and Nadal (maybe throw in Ivanovic too I mean who doesn’t love her)

Asia (guessing but genuinely have no clue)
- Li Na, Nishikori, Sharapova, Osaka, Mirza, Paes and of course big 3

Australia (just guessing again)
- Laver, Court, Rosewall, the big 3, Agassi, Serena, Ivanovic, and honestly Kyrgios/Tomic might be added as of now too lol
 
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KG1965

Legend
North America:
- Serena, Venus, Evert, Federer, Agassi, Mac, Connors, Nadal, Sharapova and Kournikova

Western Europe (I’m guessing):
- Federer, Borg, Becker, Nadal, Agassi, Graf, Sharapova and Serena (maybe throw in Murray and Hingis as well) - based on what I’ve heard, MAC and Connors were viewed as “ugly Americans” back in the 70s/80s so although famous, they weren’t the most “popular” among the crowds in comparison to some of their peers

Eastern Europe (I’m guessing):
- Navratilova, Djokovic, Sharapova, Kournikova, Lendl, Seles, Federer and Nadal (maybe throw in Ivanovic too I mean who doesn’t love her)

Asia (guessing but genuinely have no clue)
- Li Na, Nishikori, Sharapova, Osaka, Mirza, Paes and of course big 3

Australia (just guessing again)
- Laver, Court, Rosewall, the big 3, Agassi, Serena, Ivanovic, and honestly Kyrgios/Tomic might be added as of now too lol
A big thank you for a great contribution on which I will make some reflections. Tomorrow.
 

JaoSousa

Professional
If we are talking about fame, I don't know why would Connors be included but not Williams, Sharapova, Navratilova, Graf.
True. Serena and Venus are far more famous than Roger in North America.
If I were to go by popularity in the United States(where I have lived for a long time, in many states):

1. Serena
2. Venus
3. Federer
4. Mac
5. Nadal/Djokovic
 

KG1965

Legend
North America:
- Serena, Venus, Evert, Federer, Agassi, Mac, Connors, Nadal, Sharapova and Kournikova

Western Europe (I’m guessing):
- Federer, Borg, Becker, Nadal, Agassi, Graf, Sharapova and Serena (maybe throw in Murray, Edberg, and Hingis as well) - based on what I’ve heard, MAC and Connors were viewed as “ugly Americans” in the EU back in the 70s/80s so although famous, they weren’t the most “popular” among the crowds in comparison to some of their peers

Eastern Europe (I’m guessing):
- Navratilova, Djokovic, Sharapova, Kournikova, Lendl, Seles, Federer and Nadal (maybe throw in Ivanovic too I mean who doesn’t love her)

Asia (guessing but genuinely have no clue)
- Li Na, Nishikori, Sharapova, Osaka, Mirza, Paes and of course big 3

Australia (just guessing again)
- Laver, Court, Rosewall, the big 3, Agassi, Serena, Ivanovic, and honestly Kyrgios/Tomic might be added as of now too lol
True. Serena and Venus are far more famous than Roger in North America.
If I were to go by popularity in the United States(where I have lived for a long time, in many states):

1. Serena
2. Venus
3. Federer
4. Mac
5. Nadal/Djokovic
I begin by comparing your two contributions on North America.
I can note that you have both indicated 5 players: Serena, Venus, Federer, Mac, Nadal.

While Clout also adds Evert, Agassi, Connors, and to my surprise ... Sharapova and Kournikova, and Sousa adds Djokovic.

I am not north american so mine is only a distant perception made by simply reading newspapers and media.

Some questions arise spontaneously:
- are the Williams sisters so very influential in North America? Do you remember most of the male stars? In Europe where I live it is rare that someone knows them despite the many achievements. Tennis in Europe is not predominantly male, it is only male. Women's sport does not exist, it has no relevance, I am not claiming it is fair. It's simply reality. Seeing the Williams in my head makes me fall from my chair.
- I ask Sousa: don't you think that Evert, Agassi, Connors are among the most famous and remembered?
- I ask Clout: and Djokovic ?
- I ask to both ... old legends like Laver, Rosewall and Borg?
- the old American myths Budge, Kramer and Pancho Gonzalez have been completely forgotten?
- Court is off the radar?
- I don't see Sampras among the top famous ones, is it possible?
 

KG1965

Legend
Eastern Europe (I’m guessing):
- Navratilova, Djokovic, Sharapova, Kournikova, Lendl, Seles, Federer and Nadal (maybe throw in Ivanovic too I mean who doesn’t love her)

Asia (guessing but genuinely have no clue)
- Li Na, Nishikori, Sharapova, Osaka, Mirza, Paes and of course big 3

Australia (just guessing again)
- Laver, Court, Rosewall, the big 3, Agassi, Serena, Ivanovic, and honestly Kyrgios/Tomic might be added as of now too lol
On Asia, Australia and East Europe we can only presume and hope in the help of some poster coming from those territories.
If I think that only Adriatic Sea divides me from Croatia and therefore from Eastern Europe but I know nothing of the media and impressions of eastern europeans people ...
It would be interesting to understand from them what they think of Borg, the old Australians (Laver, Rosewall, Hoad, Newcombe) and the great Americans (Evert, King, Gonzalez, Kramer, Sampras, Connors, Mac).

And the Australians? Who dominated the sport for a few decades, how do they remember their myths? How do the stars of the 70-80s historically place?

We hope to help some Australian or New Zealand or some Slovenian or Serbian.
 

KG1965

Legend
Western Europe (I’m guessing):
- Federer, Borg, Becker, Nadal, Agassi, Graf, Sharapova and Serena (maybe throw in Murray, Edberg, and Hingis as well) - based on what I’ve heard, MAC and Connors were viewed as “ugly Americans” in the EU back in the 70s/80s so although famous, they weren’t the most “popular” among the crowds in comparison to some of their peers
I live in Europe, to be precise in Italy and although between the italians and the british, between the portuguese and the germans there is a big difference I am very close to the positions you have imagined.
Federer, Borg, Nadal in front of everyone.
Then Djokovic
. In my opinion, Laver, Becker, McEnroe and Connors are also with the two.
In my opinion the most famous woman is Graf. But for the british probably Navratilova.
Agassi, Sharapova and Serena but also Murray, Edberg and Hingis a little behind. Together with Sampras. In this group I would also put Evert.

Forget Rosewall, Gonzalez, Kramer, Hoad, Budge completely.
 

JaoSousa

Professional
Some questions arise spontaneously:
- are the Williams sisters so very influential in North America? Do you remember most of the male stars? In Europe where I live it is rare that someone knows them despite the many achievements. Tennis in Europe is not predominantly male, it is only male. Women's sport does not exist, it has no relevance, I am not claiming it is fair. It's simply reality. Seeing the Williams in my head makes me fall from my chair.
- I ask Sousa: don't you think that Evert, Agassi, Connors are among the most famous and remembered?
- I ask Clout: and Djokovic ?
- I ask to both ... old legends like Laver, Rosewall and Borg?
- the old American myths Budge, Kramer and Pancho Gonzalez have been completely forgotten?
- Court is off the radar?
- I don't see Sampras among the top famous ones, is it possible?
1. Serena and Venus are really famous in the United States. Especially Serena. I think this is partly because of the fact that she is an African American woman who has been in the public eye for a long time. Womens' sports have gained lots of popularity in the past 10-15 years, and Serena's pursuit of Court's record is another factor.

2. Evert is nowhere close to being the most remembered among the people I have associated with and the circles that I have been in. I think this is partly because tennis wasn't telecasted as much back then. I notice that among most of my South/East asian friends, Navratilova and Graf are the players that they can remember the most. I think Connors' case is similar. Agassi is more well known I think than both of them.

3. Almost nobody except for tennis fans remembers the old legends, because tennis isn't too much of a popular sport in North America. Ex: Everyone remembers Babe Ruth, the baseball player.

4. I don't think I know a single person in my city who knows who Don Budge is.

5. Court is only popular because of her race with Serena, ironically

6. I'd say Sampras comes in at #6 or 7.
 

JaoSousa

Professional
I have no idea how this even measurable. Nadal is every bit as famous as Federer. Borg and McEnroe may have been more famous in relative terms, since tennis was supposedly bigger in their day. But does it even work like that? Tennis may have a bigger global reach today, even though we keep being told it was a bigger sport in the 1970's and 1980's.

Who the hell knows!
I'm not so sure about this. The American media just loves Federer for some reason. He gets all the prime TV time spots, and he is the only one who I can remember had his match telecasted instead of Serena's. Must be something to do with better ratings.

This is definitely anecdotal, but if I mention tennis to anyone, they always say, "Hey do you know that Federer guy? I saw him play a few weeks ago."
On second thought, this might have to do with my age range and the people who I talk to. It is possible they watched tennis a lot during Federer's peak years and not in Nadal's.
 
Some questions arise spontaneously:
- are the Williams sisters so very influential in North America? Do you remember most of the male stars? In Europe where I live it is rare that someone knows them despite the many achievements. Tennis in Europe is not predominantly male, it is only male. Women's sport does not exist, it has no relevance, I am not claiming it is fair. It's simply reality. Seeing the Williams in my head makes me fall from my chair.
Are you referring to continental Europe?

Because I can assure you that in the UK, female tennis stars such as the Williams sisters, Graf, BJK, Sharapova, Kournikova and Navratilova (not to mention home grown stars like Virginia Wade and Sue Barker) are well known.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
I'm not so sure about this. The American media just loves Federer for some reason. He gets all the prime TV time spots, and he is the only one who I can remember had his match telecasted instead of Serena's. Must be something to do with better ratings.

This is definitely anecdotal, but if I mention tennis to anyone, they always say, "Hey do you know that Federer guy? I saw him play a few weeks ago."
On second thought, this might have to do with my age range and the people who I talk to. It is possible they watched tennis a lot during Federer's peak years and not in Nadal's.

Nadal was a huge ratings draw at the last US Open. His 2019 final against Medvedev (an unknown to the American public) was the highest rated Mens Final since 2015, where Federer faced off agsinst Djokovic, a much better known opponent. Nadal and Djokovic's 2013 US Open final also performed better in the ratings than Federer and Djokovic's 2015 US Open final.

 
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stringertom

Bionic Poster
Gotta have something named after you to be famous, no?

I nominate:

Jack Kramer (“I thought you were a racquet!”)

Stan Smith: his Adidas sneaks were iconic!

Rod Laver Arena and MCA at Melbourne

Courts Chatrier (yes, he played before running FFT) and Lenglen in Paris. However, Roland Garros did not play; he was a WWI French aviator.

Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King Center. It is unknown whether Louis Armstrong was an amateur enthusiast but he definitely didn’t play the tour.

Rene Lacoste: a clothing line bearing his name with his reptilian nickname as their trademark on every item. Few remember the other Mousquetaires Borotra, Cochet or Brugnon. Cochet won 5x at RG; Borotra and Lacoste 3x each. The trio all won Wimby 2x. Brugnon was the dubs specialist (10 slam titles) who teamed with either Cochet (early) or Borotra.
 

JaoSousa

Professional
Nadal was a huge ratings draw at the last US Open. His 2019 final against Medvedev (an unknown to the American public) was the highest rated Mens Final since 2015, where Federer faced off agsinst Djokovic, a much better known opponent. Nadal and Djokovic's 2013 US Open final also performed better in the ratings than Federer and Djokovic's 2015 US Open final.

ok.
 

GabeT

Legend
What do you mean by famous? Just known? If so recency bias probably means that the most famous are the Big 3.
 

Midaso240

Hall of Fame
Maybe I'm misremembering things here, but I believe for a short window of time maybe 1998-2002 Anna Kournikova was among the most famous female celebrities in the world (far, far more famous than the Williams sisters who were winning slams). I wasn't alive in the late 70s/early 80s but I'm told McEnroe/Borg had rock star status back then. Perhaps those are the 3 that achieved the biggest worldwide name recognition, if only for a brief sliver of time...
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
Fame has little to do with greatness, so Kournikova, Sharapova would be tier 1, right up there with Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Williams Sisters, Sampras, and Agassi with younger people, and Borg, McEnroe, Connors, BJK, Navratilova, Graf, and Seles in addition for older people.
 
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KG1965

Legend
UK
Federer
Murray
McEnroe
Borg

average Joe doesn't care about tennis but they remember Mac's outbursts
It makes one feel that Murray is more famous than players who has won more mountains of titles (Lendl, Laver, Rosewall, Connors, Sampras, Nadal, Djokovic).
The homeland and the nation are sometimes first and foremost.:-D
 

KG1965

Legend
1. Serena and Venus are really famous in the United States. Especially Serena. I think this is partly because of the fact that she is an African American woman who has been in the public eye for a long time. Womens' sports have gained lots of popularity in the past 10-15 years, and Serena's pursuit of Court's record is another factor.

2. Evert is nowhere close to being the most remembered among the people I have associated with and the circles that I have been in. I think this is partly because tennis wasn't telecasted as much back then. I notice that among most of my South/East asian friends, Navratilova and Graf are the players that they can remember the most. I think Connors' case is similar. Agassi is more well known I think than both of them.

3. Almost nobody except for tennis fans remembers the old legends, because tennis isn't too much of a popular sport in North America. Ex: Everyone remembers Babe Ruth, the baseball player.

4. I don't think I know a single person in my city who knows who Don Budge is.

5. Court is only popular because of her race with Serena, ironically

6. I'd say Sampras comes in at #6 or 7.
Afro-american motivation is plausible. I have a little doubt about an exaggeratedly male-dominated country where people are only interested in purely male sports (Basketball, football, baseball ...).

Interestingly, not american like Navratilova and Graf can be more famous than american stars like Evert and Connors.

Also interesting is the passage on the fact that Babe Ruth (or old American sports stars unknown to us Europeans) is known and not the tennis stars, even if they are american.
Tennis seems to have been considered by the media in the 40s-50s-60s as a niche sport, Tier 4 or 5 (not even 2 or 3).
Only the rare tennis fans knew Don Budge, Gonzalez and Kramer and were not passed on to posterity. American heroes completely forgotten.
If Court has been completely forgotten it is assumed that women's tennis has essentially started a bit with Chris Evert.
 

KG1965

Legend
Are you referring to continental Europe?

Because I can assure you that in the UK, female tennis stars such as the Williams sisters, Graf, BJK, Sharapova, Kournikova and Navratilova (not to mention home grown stars like Virginia Wade and Sue Barker) are well known.
Yes, to continental Europe.
Although I owe you that in the UK it sounds strange to me that women's tennis stars are famous as they have always been focused on exclusively men's sports such as soccer, rugby, motors.
In Europe, alpine skiing and cycling are generally very popular. But always for only men. Not even women.
In a 20-page sports newspaper ... 19 and a half have articles on males.
 

KG1965

Legend
Taking a cue from north-american contributions, I seem to understand a few things:
tennis was not a secondary sport before the 70s, it was really unknown (Tier 4 or 5); the media did not treat him or discuss his myths (such as Kramer or Gonzalez). People weren't even interested in the unbeatable australian boys (Court, Laver and Rosewall) who dominated in the 60s.
Tennis in North America starts with WCT Circuit, money, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in the 70s.
Before, tennis didn't exist. Slam or majors did not interest anyone.:eek:o_O

Navratilova, Borg and McEnroe follow. But even the brilliance of these stars seems to have been a little tarnished, opaque.

The recent Graf, Agassi and Sampras are most remembered.

I remain a little perplexed on the fame found on women in Anglo-Saxon states that on a sporting level do not have a history of interest in them. Anglo-Saxon sports are exclusively male.

I look forward to an Asian or Southamerican or Eastern European or Australian contribution.
 

toby55555

Hall of Fame
It makes one feel that Murray is more famous than players who has won more mountains of titles (Lendl, Laver, Rosewall, Connors, Sampras, Nadal, Djokovic).
The homeland and the nation are sometimes first and foremost.:-D
Obviously, Nastase will be better known in Romania (for a while he was very famous in UK but younger generations don't know him)
 

skaj

Hall of Fame
Afro-american motivation is plausible. I have a little doubt about an exaggeratedly male-dominated country where people are only interested in purely male sports (Basketball, football, baseball ...).

Interestingly, not american like Navratilova and Graf can be more famous than american stars like Evert and Connors.

Also interesting is the passage on the fact that Babe Ruth (or old American sports stars unknown to us Europeans) is known and not the tennis stars, even if they are american.
Tennis seems to have been considered by the media in the 40s-50s-60s as a niche sport, Tier 4 or 5 (not even 2 or 3).
Only the rare tennis fans knew Don Budge, Gonzalez and Kramer and were not passed on to posterity. American heroes completely forgotten.
If Court has been completely forgotten it is assumed that women's tennis has essentially started a bit with Chris Evert.
Martina has officially been American for some time now.
 
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