Who are the most popular players in history?

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
I think crowd numbers would be a much better indicator of fan support given those people were willing to pay up to watch a player in a match. Plus, crowds tend to span most generations, unlike social media. But I realize how much more difficult it could be to measure this.

Anecdotally, I believe Federer has definitely had much bigger crowd turnouts in his support than any other player I’ve seen. But that’s anecdotally.
Exactly.

If every single sport fans whether he/she's 5 or 80 years old has every social media account(facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc.), then using social media followers as a measuring stick has some validity. HOWEVER, many people, especially the older generation(mostly are Federer fan) don't have an account.

Throughout Fedal's career, Federer was always the fan's favorite, and still is today. Most fans want to see Federer more than Nadal in every part of the world except in Spain. Tournaments directors, sponsors, tennis commentators all knows too well that Federer is the man, just like Michael Jordan in basketball.

I can't believe we still debating this. I mean it's not even worth a debate to begin with. LOL
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Exactly.

If every single sport fans whether he/she's 5 or 80 years old has every social media account(facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc.), then using social media followers as a measuring stick has some validity. HOWEVER, many people, especially the older generation(mostly are Federer fan) don't have an account.

Throughout Fedal's career, Federer was always the fan's favorite, and still is today. Most fans want to see Federer more than Nadal in every part of the world except in Spain. Tournaments directors, sponsors, tennis commentators all knows too well that Federer is the man, just like Michael Jordan in basketball.

I can't believe we still debating this. I mean it's not even worth a debate to begin with. LOL

Federer is the MEDIA favorite. I understand that is why you are confused.

For the first several years of their rivalry, Federer was undoubtedly far more popular than Rafa. In part because the MEDIA painted Nadal as the villain to Federer's hero, and that trickled down to fans. Nadal was painted as a caveman brute of a tennis player, with limited talent, but a lot of stamina. Oh, and he was probably juiced to the gills and doping. This horrific MEDIA driven narrative would of course favor Federer, who was the princely tennis Jesus meant to slay this clay soaked ogre..

At a certain point in time, the MEDIA driven narrative around Nadal began to crumble. Not only did fans begin to accept that he was an incredibly talented player in his own right, who probably wasn't doping. But that he was also an incredibly humble young man who was worth supporting just as much as the MEDIA favorite, Federer. The"villain" narrative the MEDIA originally built for Nadal had nowhere left to go, so Nadal's following just kept organically growing till it matched, then arguably surpassed Fed's. But that MEDIA driven narrative where no one could ever come close to matching Fed's appeal is hard to shake off, so I can indeed see why so many still hold onto it.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
Federer is the MEDIA favorite. I understand that is why you are confused.

For the first several years of their rivalry, Federer was undoubtedly far more popular than Rafa. In part because the MEDIA painted Nadal as the villain to Federer's hero, and that trickled down to fans. Nadal was painted as a caveman brute of a tennis player, with limited talent, but a lot of stamina. Oh, and he was probably juiced to the gills and doping. This horrific MEDIA driven narrative would of course favor Federer, who was the princely tennis Jesus meant to slay this clay soaked ogre..

At a certain point in time, the MEDIA driven narrative around Nadal began to crumble. Not only did fans begin to accept that he was an incredibly talented player in his own right, who probably wasn't doping. But that he was also an incredibly humble young man who was worth supporting just as much as the MEDIA favorite, Federer. The"villain" narrative the MEDIA originally built for Nadal had nowhere left to go, so Nadal's following just kept organically growing till it matched, then arguably surpassed Fed's. But that MEDIA driven narrative where no one could ever come close to matching Fed's appeal is hard to shake off, so I can indeed see why so many still hold onto it.
Your post doesn't negate what I've pointed out. Even at 38, most viewers prefer to see Federer play than any tennis player.


Some of the informative comments about 'Why is Federer so much more popular than Nadal and Djokovic'.

 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Your post doesn't negate what I've pointed out. Even at 38, most viewers prefer to see Federer play than any tennis player.


Some of the informative comments about 'Why is Federer so much more popular than Nadal and Djokovic'.

So I present you with irrefutable evidence that shows Nadal has millions of more followers on Social Media than Federer and thus is currently the more popular player.....and your counter-evidence that Federer is more "popular" is a Quora question with 4 answers.LOL!

I think we are just about finished here. It was fun though.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
So I present you with irrefutable evidence that shows Nadal has millions of more followers on Social Media than Federer and thus is currently the more popular player.....and your counter-evidence that Federer is more "popular" is a Quora question with 4 answers.LOL!

I think we are just about finished here. It was fun though.
Just because you believe so doesn't mean it's true. Other posters have debunked your flaw/unsound argument about social media.
 

TMF

Talk Tennis Guru
Social media numbers are just the tiny tip of the iceberg, though. Nadal is more popular among the Twitter crowd, sure, but said crowd represents less than 5% of the whole human race. Nadal is traditionnally more popular among the young, Federer among their parents and the more, ahem, wise people (ie the old geezers^^). If you add to that the fact that the current average age of tennis fans is supposed to be 62, well, that's all you need to know, really (also, there was this crazy poll a few years back in which Fed was voted the most respected person in the world after only Nelson Mandela (which was crazy, if you ask me, but shows how immensely popular he is). Nadal has gained a huge popularity in his shadow, though, by being his foil from the start (and, like Hitman, I think that Fed too gained in popularity from that rivalry later on... although he probably didn't need it, to be honest).

As a European, I would say:
Federer
Borg
Nadal
Agassi

Borg was a real rockstar in his time, it was quite impressive (and it probably led, at least in part, to him stopping his career early). Fed's popularity has grown far outside tennis over the years, though, so I would say he has outgrown Borg. Pretty sure that Nadal isn't there yet, but I may be wrong--it may be because of the fact that Federer and Nadal are contemporaries, and Nadal is the clear #2 in that rivalry, popularity-wise (despite what the less than 5% Twitter crowd may have to say about this). Outside this trio, definitely Agassi, as Sampras never really was that big in Europe. Respected, yes. But popular? Not really. Tennis took a serious dive in the 90's in Europe, and that was mainly due to Pete's personnality. It picked up again in the 00's--with Fed. #5 would be tougher to determine, between Sampras, McEnroe, Connors... and Lendl (Ivan would probably be last in that group, though). Probably Mac, because of his antics. I wouldn't bet my house on it, though.
Well said. You should write more often.

 

octogon

Hall of Fame
Just because you believe so doesn't mean it's true. Other posters have debunked your flaw/unsound argument about social media.
No one actually debunked anything. People just presented unprovable theories as to why Nadal had a bigger social media following, and unsupported anecdotes about more crowds showing up to watch Fed or whatever.
 

merlinpinpin

Hall of Fame
It's not just the "twitter crowd" where Nadal is more popular. It's all social media.
My "Twitter crowd" moniker was a way to bundle them all together-Facebook, Instagram, What'sApp, you name them. I'm sure there are tons of them, I don't have any and don't care.

What you don't seem to understand is that there's nothing in being a tennis fan that means you absolutely *have* to follow/stalk your fav so as to get all his shirtless pics. Most people just don't give a damn about the private life of celebrities. Online popularity is just a way of knowing, well--online popularity, I guess. For example, Will Smith has waaaaaay more Facebook followers than, say, Clint Eastwood. Now, if you think Smith is more well-known than Eastwood based on that number alone, I've got a great patch of prime estate to sell you on the dark side of the moon (guaranteed 100% covid-free).

Want another example? Justin Bieber and Elvis Presley (or John Lennon). Guess who has the most fans on social networks. Now, would you care to hazard a guess as to who is the most well-known *for real*? ;)
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
My "Twitter crowd" moniker was a way to bundle them all together-Facebook, Instagram, What'sApp, you name them. I'm sure there are tons of them, I don't have any and don't care.

What you don't seem to understand is that there's nothing in being a tennis fan that means you absolutely *have* to follow/stalk your fav so as to get all his shirtless pics. Most people just don't give a damn about the private life of celebrities. Online popularity is just a way of knowing, well--online popularity, I guess. For example, Will Smith has waaaaaay more Facebook followers than, say, Clint Eastwood. Now, if you think Smith is more well-known than Eastwood based on that number alone, I've got a great patch of prime estate to sell you on the dark side of the moon (guaranteed 100% covid-free).

Want another example? Justin Bieber and Elvis Presley (or John Lennon). Guess who has the most fans on social networks. Now, would you care to hazard a guess as to who is the most well-known *for real*? ;)
I can't see who you're arguing with, but it's unrealistic to try to explain to someone whose life revolves social media that fakebook and instatwit just aren't important to everyone .. because to them, it's everything.
 

octogon

Hall of Fame
My "Twitter crowd" moniker was a way to bundle them all together-Facebook, Instagram, What'sApp, you name them. I'm sure there are tons of them, I don't have any and don't care.

What you don't seem to understand is that there's nothing in being a tennis fan that means you absolutely *have* to follow/stalk your fav so as to get all his shirtless pics. Most people just don't give a damn about the private life of celebrities. Online popularity is just a way of knowing, well--online popularity, I guess. For example, Will Smith has waaaaaay more Facebook followers than, say, Clint Eastwood. Now, if you think Smith is more well-known than Eastwood based on that number alone, I've got a great patch of prime estate to sell you on the dark side of the moon (guaranteed 100% covid-free).

Want another example? Justin Bieber and Elvis Presley (or John Lennon). Guess who has the most fans on social networks. Now, would you care to hazard a guess as to who is the most well-known *for real*? ;)

Ridiculous examples and comparisons. Fed and Nadal are both contemporary Tennis players and peers of a similar age group who have all the same social media platforms and are both very active on social media. It is a like for like comparison. Like Messi and Ronaldo. That is why it is a fair measuring stick to compare their social media followings as evidence of their respective popularity.

Setting up these bizarre and meaningless straw-man comparisons is crazy to me (Will Smith vs Clint Eastwood, a 90 year old movie star way out of his prime who is not personally active on social media, even if he might have an official page or two). And Justin Beiber vs Two Dead Pop Stars!?! WTF! (and I don't mean the tennis tournament)

I honestly feel like you guys are just throwing doo-doo against the wall and hoping something sticks.
 

Enceladus

Hall of Fame
In fact, social media is not a good measure of popularity. Social media is the domain of young people, old people use it minimally. From the fact that Nadal has more followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it can only be deduced that he is more popular than Federer among young people, but not in general.

Federer is the most popular tennis player of today, to deny this obvious thing is foolish.
 

KG1965

Legend
Strongly disagree here! The omission of Agassi is a sin. Prior to 2006, the top 3 in America would be Agassi, Mac and Borg. Connors had as much hate as he did love. Someone like Stan Smith was more popular in the 70’s than Nadal is today. Sampras was also more popular than Nadal today.

Since Agassi retired, Fed is clearly #1.
I'm not north american and I'm probably wrong but I'm sure of something. Connors sold multiple Stan Smith and Top 10 all together (including Borg) in USA.
If you browse the old newspapers on the internet, tennis seems to be ... just Jimbo.
Agassi and Sampras more popular in the USA than Jimbo and Mac?
 

KG1965

Legend
Sampras and Agassi are/were not popular enough to be in the top 5 for North America?
Sampras ?


I'm not saying that tennis fans don't rank him among the top 5, ... Sampras among the 5 most popular and well-known all-time players?
 

KG1965

Legend
I'll take a punt at Australia:

Laver
Rosewall
Goolagong
Hopman
Emerson
Roche/Newcombe
Rafter
Barty
Hewitt
Cash
Stosur
Edberg
Federer
Cooper
Stolle
Fraser
Anderson
Philippoussis
Kyrgios
Court
Becker
Sampras
Lendl
Safin
Agassi
Nadal
Vilas
Wilander
Baghdatis
Tsonga
All these players in Australia do you think they are better known than McEnroe, Connors and Borg?
 

KG1965

Legend
Tennis was significantly more popular in the 70s and 80s. Borg was much more recognizable to John Q. Public than somebody like Sampras, or even Agassi. Borg was more popular than American players in America. Hard to compare with Federer. Federer is more popular among tennis fans, but there's way less tennis fans than there used to be. Where I live, if you showed random people a picture of Federer, probably over half would say "Oh yeah......it's that guy". I've played tennis with people who didn't know who Roger Federer was.
I find your comment very interesting.
Was Borg really more popular than Connors and BorgMcEnroe who often inflicted wounds on him in the US?
 
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Yet you post on messageboards about Tennis Players.

This makes no sense to me.

I know the fresh angle Federer fans are using to explain away the Social Media disparity between him and Nadal, is that billions of unseen Federer fans all live in Retirement Homes and don't know what the internet is (haha!), but I think some of you are trying a teensy bit hard here to stay on message.LOL!
I've just scrolled through this whole thread and you saying someone else is trying too hard is nothing short of hilarious.
 

KG1965

Legend
My list of male players:

1. Borg
2. Federer
3. Agassi
4. Laver
5. Nadal

Guys like Mac and Connors are very difficult to rank, because they were hated by many as well as loved - albeit I think, in both cases, they've grown into 'beloved grumpy uncle' type figures, rather than being known as complete jackasses. So they're both probably popular these days, as is Becker. Sampras is more revered among tennis connoisseurs, than being someone truly loved. Lendl and Novak Djokovic, genuinely unpopular.
I believe it is crucial to make a clarification.
What do we mean by popular?
I mean the term as known, but many might mean it as sympathetic.

Is Trump
(and Putin and the Queen of England) the most popular in the world or, since they are not sympathetic to the majority, should they consider themselves not popular?
 

Aussie Darcy

Bionic Poster
Australia .. I've watched both women practice and play live here more than once.
Disagree on that. I worked the 2015 tournament and the final of Sharapova v Ivanovic didn’t even sell out. You better believe any session involving Serena sells out quickfast.
 

Aussie Darcy

Bionic Poster
Call this happy debate, I'm certainly not aguing with you..

We are in violent agreement on *****, except for the Serbs, he's basically unlikable.

I'd say Sharapova drawing a crowd means she's loved, but did leave her off my list.

Kyrgios had kids literally chasing after him at the ATP Cup too. Hewitt was the next most popular Aussie and he wasn't even playing.

A lot of people watch Sky News and listen to 2GB. Don't underestimate them just because you don't like them, that's the mistake that got Trump (and Morrison) elected.

The Tsitsipas hype was nothing compared to the Baghdatis frenzy. Marcos had an electric personality that Tsitsipas's sulky online persona simply can't match. I'd say it surpassed Rusty's run the year before and rivalled the Edberg/Cash days. Outside of the Federer mania, nothing since has come close.

I agree with you Nishikori and Osaka, but their support isn't broad based. FWIW .. I met Naomi in Brisbane this year and I'm a massive fan. I think she's great.

Will concede Safin's time was then. I wonder if the same will apply to Kyrgios in the mid 2030s?
Definitely agree, happy discussion i’d say!

Agreed on Djoko and Maria and Nick.

Sky news is watched but not by a lot ratings wise and I wouldn’t lump all ScoMo supporters with those who would support Court. I just have never met anyone who talks about her tennis or compliments her.

The Tsitsipas hype last year was insane I recall a match halting briefly due to the noise from the next court. But that one year alone doesn’t put them on the list.

Osaka is a sweetheart, but Barty is still head and shoulders one of the best players I’ve ever chatted and worked with. Stosur too.

Kyrgios benefits from the Aussie factor, so he’ll be big here even in 15 years but overseas probably not.
 

Aussie Darcy

Bionic Poster
Did you see Serena and Maria play each other the year before?
Didn’t work or go to that tournament as I was overseas but recall the match. Anything particular I should recall?

When I think Serena and Brisbane I think of the Sloane Stephens match and the drama that came from that.
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
Forget? I think you are making the assumption that everyone who talks about Pete's popularity actually watched tennis when Sampras was at his peak. When I see such statements made, honestly, it shows me that they certainly didn't have a clue about Pete.
Yes, fair point, "forget or were not aware of to begin with" is what I really meant.
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
I believe it is crucial to make a clarification.
What do we mean by popular?
I mean the term as known, but many might mean it as sympathetic.

Is Trump
(and Putin and the Queen of England) the most popular in the world or, since they are not sympathetic to the majority, should they consider themselves not popular?
Oh, I see - you probably meant "most famous" then, rather than most popular.

And to your last statement in bold: the person you reference may well be the most un-popular man in the world!
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Didn’t work or go to that tournament as I was overseas but recall the match. Anything particular I should recall?
I was there. Crowd were clearly on Maria's side. That may have been because Maria was obviously not at her best and they wanted a longer match.

Mind you, I think Fed played Groth the same day and poor Sam didn't get as much support as Maria did :-D
 

KG1965

Legend
Oh, I see - you probably meant "most famous" then, rather than most popular.

And to your last statement in bold: the person you reference may well be the most un-popular man in the world!
Thank you for the clarification: famous and popular do not mean the same thing.
And this makes a lot of difference.
At this point Trump is probably the most famous in the world but he is not among the most popular.
It radically changes the thread as I thought it would.
I will make another .... ;)
 

KG1965

Legend
I have taken note from Phoenix and other posters of the real meaning of popularity, understood not as famous, or known, or famous, but as including a certain positive judgment of merit by the majority of the people who admire him. Basically, all controversial players (loved but also very hated) are excluded.

I try to compile a list again:

1) Federer
2) Borg
3) Agassi or Laver or Evert or Sampras

Concerning only popularity (and not fame) I don't find substantial differences between continents.
I think there are instead substantial differences between continents on fame. But another thread is needed.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
I have taken note from Phoenix and other posters of the real meaning of popularity, understood not as famous, or known, or famous, but as including a certain positive judgment of merit by the majority of the people who admire him. Basically, all controversial players (loved but also very hated) are excluded.

I try to compile a list again:

1) Federer
2) Borg
3) Agassi or Laver or Evert or Sampras

Concerning only popularity (and not fame) I don't find substantial differences between continents.
I think there are instead substantial differences between continents on fame. But another thread is needed.
A good list.
 
In fact, social media is not a good measure of popularity. Social media is the domain of young people, old people use it minimally. From the fact that Nadal has more followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it can only be deduced that he is more popular than Federer among young people, but not in general.

Federer is the most popular tennis player of today, to deny this obvious thing is foolish.
Agree with this, but unless my eyes deceive me, Fed has 3M more followers on Facebook? He also seems way less active on social media than Nads anyway. I know the horse is dead, but just sayin' (y)
 
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