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Wimbledon 2012: Top 12 Grass Court Players in Tennis History

NEW YORK - AUGUST 27: Roger Federer and Serena Williams attend the 2009 US Open Draw Presentation at the New York Times Center on August 27, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
Brad Barket/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 16, 2016

If Roger Federer and/or Serena Williams captures a Wimbledon title this year, where would that place them amongst the greats of the game on grass? After all, Wimbledon titles are the most meaningful barometer for grass success.

As I was constructing this list, those two are the only current players still alive in the tournament that could affect my rankings.

It would be Federer's seventh title at Wimbledon. That would tie him with Pete Sampras for the most ever in the Open era.

Some may argue that Federer is already the best and whatever else he accomplishes on grass is just icing on the cake. For me, I'm into concrete accomplishments.

If Federer wins his seventh Wimbledon—especially considering his age (30) and the fact that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were in the field—it cements his place at the top.

As for Serena, a win would be her fifth at the All England Club. Her age (30) is also a factor that would make the accomplishment bigger. She would tie sister Venus Williams with five titles.

As of now—which is before the 2012 gentleman and ladies champions are crowned—here are the top 10 grass court players in tennis history.

 

12. John Newcombe

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16:  Former Australian tennis player John Newcombe officially opens the 2012 Australian Open during day one of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 16, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Dadswell/
Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Newcombe captured three Wimbledon titles, and his first came before the Open era. He was the second man to capture a title in both eras.

Newcombe lost only one Wimbledon final in his career. His powerful serve and volley game was perfect for the grass surface.

 

11. Boris Becker

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20:  Former Men's Singles Champion Boris Becker demonstrates virtual tennis on Day One of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Pool/G
Pool/Getty Images

Another big-time serve and volley player, Becker was the first player I ever enjoyed watching. He was charismatic and his game had a cool factor. He wasn't just style, there was certainly substance there—especially on grass.

Becker won three of the seven Wimbledon finals he appeared in. His wins came in 1985, 1986 and 1989. Remarkably, he made his final appearance in a Wimbledon final in 1995—a full 10 years after he won his first.

 

10. Serena Williams

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 30:  Jie Zheng of China returns a shot during her Ladies' Singles third round match against Serena Williams of the USA  on day six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbled
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Serena is my current personal favorite, irrespective to gender. She has won four Wimbledon titles, and were it not for injuries, she could have won more.

She won in 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010, but she battled injuries from 2004-2006, and it probably cost her at least one title at Wimbledon.

Winning this year would bump her up a notch or two in my rankings.

 

9. John McEnroe

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 06:  John McEnroe of USA plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of his men's Legends doubles match against during day 11 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Ima
Getty Images/Getty Images

It could be argued that McEnroe should be higher. Were it not for Bjorn Borg, maybe he has more Wimbledon titles. He won three of his five Wimbledon appearances. But why is he ahead of Becker and Serena?

I contend that his competition was stiffer during the late 70s and early 80s, and that deserves some respect.

 

8. Venus Williams

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 30:  Venus Williams of the USA in action while playing with Serena Williams of the USA during their Ladies' Doubles second round match against Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova of Russia on day six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Champ
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Venus doesn't really best Serena overall, but on grass she is the best woman of her era. She won five Wimbledon titles, and she came up short in the finals three times.

In all three of those finals she fell to Serena. This is just a reminder as to how much the Williams sisters dominated during the 2000s.

 

7. Rod Laver

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26:  A statue of former Australian tennis player Ken Fletcher is on display after being inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame during the Australia Day presentation in Rod Laver Arena during day eleven of the 2012
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Laver was the first man to win Wimbledon before and during the Open era. Laver won back-to-back Wimbledon titles in 1968 and 1969.

This was a truly remarkable feat considering he had won his previous two titles in 1961 and 1962.

 

6. Billie Jean King

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 27: Billie Jean King seen during a press conference at the 19th annual WTT Smash Hits at the Public Hall on October 27, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

BJK was one of the most dominant grass players in the 1960s and 1970s. She won six Wimbledon titles and she appeared in nine finals. The case could easily be made that she deserved to be higher.

But I place her here because I believe she dominated at a time where there wasn't a ton of parity in the women's game.

Still, her accomplishments are amazing.

 

5. Roger Federer

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29:  Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a forehand return during his Gentlemen's Singles third round match against Julien Benneteau of France on day five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and C
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Fed has won six Wimbledon titles and lost only one time that he's advanced as far as the final. In 2008, he lost to Rafael Nadal—and Nadal has routinely be the thorn in his side.

With Rafa out of the picture already, Federer has a good shot at adding number seven this year.

 

4. Bjorn Borg

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 18:  Tennis legend, Bjorn Borg of Sweden watches during day four of the ATP Monte Carlo Masters on April 18, 2012 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Borg retired early and that robbed him of many singles titles. Some of those undoubtedly would have come on grass. Borg won five-in-a-row from 1976-1980 and he was easily the best player in the world.

Why is he ahead of Federer and BJK?

Because I truly believe that he would have added at least two more titles had he not retired in 1983.

 

3. Steffi Graf

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 17:  Steffi Graf hits a forehand during the Ladies Singles match against Kim Clijsters during the 'Centre Court Celebration' at Wimbledon on May 17, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Steffi was so dominant from the late 80s and through the 90s that she was almost unbeatable in a Wimbledon final. She won seven Wimbledon titles and lost in two finals.

They were her first and her last appearances in a Wimbledon final.

Graf was the most dominant female player in the 1990s.

 

2. Pete Sampras

29 Jun 2001:  Pete Sampras of the USA on his way to victory over Sargis Sargsian of Armenia during the men's third round of The All England Lawn Tennis Championship at Wimbledon, London.  DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Gary M. Prior/ALLSPORT
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

I almost made him No. 1. Sampras won seven Wimbledon titles—he never lost any time he reached the final match. Sampras at Wimbledon in the 1990s was as automatic as anything in sports can be.

Once he started his run in 1993, the only year in the 1990s Sampras didn't win Wimbledon was in 1996. His run in the 1990s was as dominating a stint as any man has had in the Open era.

 

1. Martina Navratilova

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 10:  Martina Navratilova pictured during a press conference during the fifth day of the AEGON Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club on June 10, 2011 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Navratilova is simply the most dominating player in the history of the sport, and that dominance was on full display on grass.

Martina won nine Wimbledon titles and played in a ridiculous 12 finals.

She was the most intimidating and awesome grass player in history.

 

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