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The top 4 greatest British tennis players of all time

Many Britons would agree that tennis is one of the most exciting sports to watch and participate in. The United Kingdom (UK) is home to one of the four Grand Slam competitions, the four most esteemed tennis tournaments in the world.

The Grand Slam events take place once a year and include the Australian Open, which takes place in January; the French Open, which takes place in May and June, Wimbledon, which takes place in June and July; and the US Open, which takes place in August and September. Wimbledon (also known as the Wimbledon Championships) is the oldest of these four Grand Slam competitions. 

The “Calendar-year Grand Slam” or “Calendar Slam” refers to the feat of winning all four Grand Slam competitions in the same calendar year. Tennis players have a certain respect naturally accorded to them because of the game. Britain has produced some of the greatest tennis players in history. Here’s a list of the top four greatest British tennis players. 

Fred Perry 

With eight Grand Slam singles titles, two Pro Slam singles titles, and six Major doubles titles, Frederick John Perry was a British table tennis and tennis player and former world No. 1. From 1934 to 1936, Perry was ranked first in the world among amateur tennis players and went on to win three straight Wimbledon titles. In 1936, Perry was the last British male player to win the Wimbledon tournament.  

At the 1935 French Championships, Perry became the first player in history to win all four singles titles, a feat known as a “Career Grand Slam.” To this day, he is the only British player to win this award. Table tennis was Perry’s first love; he won the World Championship in 1929. At 14, he took up tennis, and by 1930, when he was 21, he was selected by a committee from the Lawn Tennis Association to be part of a four-person team that would tour the United States.  

Even though Perry enormously impacted British tennis, he was not fully recognised by tennis authorities until much later in life. This was because the International Lawn Tennis Federation didn’t regard amateur champions who went professional between 1927 and 1967, including Perry. A statue of Perry was dedicated at Wimbledon in 1984, and in the same year, he was named one of the “Best of the Best” sportsmen of the last century, based on the votes of 2,000 Britons. 

Virginia Wade 

Wade earned $1,542,278 as prize money from her 55 professional singles titles. From 1967 through 1979, she never fell out of the top ten in the world. Her professional life was 26 years long. Wade announced her retirement from singles competition after the 1985 tennis season, and at the end of the 1986 season, she announced her retirement from doubles play. She set a new record by competing in the women’s singles draw at Wimbledon a total of 26 times. 

While she was still actively playing in 1981, Wade also covered tennis tournaments for the BBC. She made history in 1982 by being elected as the first female member of the Wimbledon Committee. 

Andy Murray 

Scotsman and British tennis pro, Sir Andrew Barron Murray OBE was ranked No. 1 for 41 consecutive weeks by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He ended the year as the top-ranked player in the world. Murray has reached eleven Grand Slam finals and won three Grand Slam singles titles (in 2013, 2016, and 2012 twice at Wimbledon and the US Open, respectively). Between July 2008 and October 2017, Murray spent all but one month in the top 10, and in eight of the nine year-end rankings, he was no lower than world No. 4. Including 14 Masters 1000 tournaments, Murray has won 46 ATP singles titles. 

He started playing tennis professionally when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal became the two best men’s tennis players. Murray did well right away on the ATP Tour. At age 19, he was already in the top 10 when he started. By 2010, Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal made up the Big Four, the group of men’s tennis players who dominated the 2010s. 

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Gregory Rusedski 

Former tennis player Gregory Rusedski was born in Canada on 6 September 1973. Between 6 October 1997 and 12 October 1997, and between the dates of 25 May 1998 and 21 June 1998, he was ranked as high as Number 4 according to the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals. He also held the position of No. 1 in the UK in 1997, 1999, and 2006.

He was a finalist at the US Open in 1997, which earned him the titles of “Sports Personality of the Year” by the BBC and “Sports Champion of the Year” by ITV. In the Davis Cup competition, he led Great Britain to a record of 30 wins and 13 losses.  

Rusedski’s parents, a Briton and a man of Polish and Ukrainian ancestry gave birth to him in Montreal, Quebec. He was a promising youth player in Canada in the 1980s, but he adopted British citizenship and played for Great Britain in 1995, which angered many Canadians. Rusedski cited “lifestyle motives” for his choice, explaining that his British girlfriend and future wife lived there.  

Rusedski won fifteen singles titles and peaked at No. 4 in the world. 


There are a lot more British tennis players that have made Britain proud in their tennis career. The few listed above are some of those who have made their mark worldwide as British tennis players. Amazingly some performed incredible feats with disabilities that cause significant disadvantages. It is fantastic to know that tennis, as we know it, probably wouldn’t exist without the above tennis athletes.  

Feel free to gush about these athletes who made their mark in the sands of tennis as you watch those still actively participating. 

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.