Venus and Serena Williams of the United States
The days of American tennis domination are clearly in the past. With countries such as Russia, Serbia, and Spain dominating the top-20 rankings on the Men's and Women's tours, the field of gifted tennis nations has truly become diverse. However, the United States has still produced some of the best tennis champions over the past 20 years. Here is a look at 16 of the most successful American tennis players since 1990.
Zina Garrison would withstand the pressure of high expectations as the first African-American woman to reach the top 10 since Althea Gibson. Garrison was quick around the court and crafty at the net. She would reach the 1990 Wimbledon singles Final, as well as the Mixed Doubles Final that year. An Olympic gold medalist from the '80s, Garrison would also win 14 WTA Singles titles and 20 WTA Doubles titles in the '90s.
Todd Martin took a unique path to becoming professional, playing four years of college tennis at Northwestern University before joining the ATP Tour. Once on tour the serve-and-volley player would make two Grand Slam Finals (1994, 1999), as well as a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 1999. Martin would also win eight ATP Singles titles and five ATP Doubles titles, earning over $8 Million in prize money.
Lisa Raymond may not have had a standout singles career on the WTA. However as a Doubles expert Raymond would more than prove her tremendous abilities on the court. Another rare player to have come through college, Lisa was a college star athlete at The University of Florida. Raymond would go on to earn six Grand Slam Doubles titles, five Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles, 79 WTA Doubles titles, a No.1 Doubles ranking in 2000 and an Olympic bronze medal in 2012.
Although Michael Chang's lone Grand Slam Victory came before 1990 (1989 French Open), Chang was a top player throughout the '90s. Standing at only 5'9'', Chang used his quickness and court savvy to be competitive with the world's best and strongest. Chang made history by becoming not only one of the youngest ever Grand Slam winners, but also the first of Asian ethnicity. During his 15-year career, Chang would win 34 ATP titles, three Grand Slam Final appearances (one win), over $19 Million in prize money and a career-high ranking of No. 2 in 1996.
Mary-Jo Fernandez was a pioneer Latin-American athlete and skilled tennis player. Although she had trouble with Graf, and Seles, her grit and determination would get her to three Grand Slam Finals. Fernandez also won back-to-back Olympic gold medals in Doubles (1992, 1996), and a bronze medal in Singles (1992). With a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 1990, Fernandez would win seven WTA Singles titles and 17 WTA Doubles titles.
Martina Navritilova is the most accomplished tennis player of all time. However, from 1990-2012, Navritilova would have only her win at the 1990 Wimbledon. She also won the US Open Doubles titles in 1990, the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles titles in 1993, 1995 and 2003, the Australian Open Mixed Doubles title in 2003 and the US Open Mixed Doubles title in 2006.
Although Monica Seles is one of the most accomplished women in tennis, she only played for the United States from 1995-2003, before which she played for Yugoslavia. Only one of her nine Grand Slam titles would come as an American citizen. Therefore, in analyzing the greatest American tennis players over the past 22 years, only Seles' 1996 Australian Open victory qualifies. Seles would, however, win an Olympic bronze medal for the United States in 2000 and several WTA titles after 1995.
Mike and Bob Bryan
The Bryan brothers are the most successful doubles team of all time. The twins have captivated tennis audiences for over a decade. Bob Bryan has 81 ATP Career Doubles titles, 12 Grand Slam Doubles titles, and seven Mixed Doubles titles; Mike holds 83 ATP Career Doubles titles, 12 Grand Slam Doubles titles, and three Mixed Doubles titles. The two also won the gold medal in Doubles at the 2012 London games.
Andy Roddick turned pro in 2000, and immediately made an impression on the Men's field. "The Great American Hope" of the new millennium, Roddick had big shoes to fill after Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi retired. His 12-year career included 32 ATP Tour titles, a No. 1 ranking in 2003, over $20 Million in prize money, four Grand Slam Finals and the 2003 US Open Championship win. In 2004, Roddick hit what was then the fastest serve ever in professional tennis, measuring at 155 MPH during a Davis Cup match on hard court in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jennifer Capriatti turned professional in 1990 as a teenage prodigy. She won the Olympic gold in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics, defeating Steffi Graf. Although Capriatti's career was plagued by off-court controversy and on-court injuries, she managed to win 14 Career WTA titles, three Grand Slam titles, and a No.1 ranking in 2001. After taking off several years in the '90s, Capriatti will be remembered as one of the best comeback stories in tennis.
Jim Courier turned professional in 1988. The Florida-born redhead competed admirably in a generation dominated by the rivalry of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. However, during the '90s Courier was a mainstay in the second week of Grand Slams, and became a crowd favorite. Courier's resume includes 23 ATP Career Titles, six Grand Slam Finals (four Wins), and a No.1 ranking in 1992.
California native Lindsay Davenport is known as being one of the cleanest ball-strikers in tennis. Her textbook-perfect form and strong physique was a consistent presence on the WTA tour in the '90s and '00s. Often overlooked in favor of fellow Americans Serena and Venus Williams or Jennifer Capriatti, the shy Davenport made a name for herself on the court and not in the media. Her resume includes 55 WTA Titles, a No. 1 ranking in Singles and Doubles, an Olympic gold medal in 1996, three Grand Slam Singles titles, three Grand Slam Doubles titles and over $22 Million in prize earnings.
Venus Williams shocked the world when she made the final of her first-ever Grand Slam at the 1997 US Open. Since that time, she has changed the game with her powerful serve, athletic prowess and no-nonsense persona. Venus has the fastest-recorded serve ever by a female player at 129 MPH. She is perhaps more significant to tennis for her civil rights contributions in the fight for equal prize money for women. Venus' resume includes 43 WTA Singles titles, 20 WTA Doubles titles, seven Grand Slam Singles titles, 13 Grand Slam Doubles titles, two Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles, four Olympic gold medals, a No.1 ranking in Singles and Doubles and over $28 Million in prize earnings.
Andre Agassi was a true tennis superstar. With his on-court fashion flare, and off-court celebrity love life, Agassi kept the media wanting more. He was one half of the greatest rivalry of the '90s with Pete Sampras. Agassi is well-loved by tennis fans for both his crafty tennis game and his humanitarian work with children. Agassi's resume includes 60 ATP titles, eight Grand Slam Singles titles, an Olympic gold medal in 1996, a No. 1 ranking in 1995 and over $30 Million in prize earnings.
Pete Sampras was the premier tennis player of the '90s. He dominated the Men's Tour with a serve-and-volley game that was unmatched. Quiet, humble and hard working, Sampras conducted himself as a role model for other ATP athletes to follow both on and off court.
Sampras does not rank No. 1 because he was unable to win a Grand Slam at The French Open, nor was he ever able to capture an Olympic gold medal, or any Double's Grand Slam titles. However, what he was able to accomplish in his career is truly remarkable, and his stellar resume secures him as the best American Male Tennis Player ever, with no one on the horizon to challenge him. His achievements include 64 ATP Tour titles, 14 Grand Slam Singles titles, five ATP Tour Championship titles and a seven-time run at ending the year ranked No. 1.
With her first Grand Slam victory at the 1999 US Open, Serena Williams made her goal of domination in Women's Tennis no secret. In 2002-2003 Serena held all four Grand Slam titles, dubbed the "Serena Slam". With the best serve to ever come through women's professional tennis, Williams has won Grand Slam titles for a span of over 13 years.
With several major wins on hard courts, grass, clay and indoor courts, Serena has proven to be successful on all surfaces, as well as in Singles and Doubles play. A controversial and emotional player, Williams has brought legions of first-time followers to tennis.
This soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer's resume includes 15 Grand Slam Singles titles, a "Career Grand Slam" (all four majors), 13 Grand Slam Doubles titles, two Mixed Doubles titles, two WTA Championship titles, 45 WTA Singles titles, 22 WTA Doubles titles, four Olympic gold medals, a No. 1 ranking in both Singles and Doubles, and over $40 Million in prize earnings (first all-time among women athletes and fourth all-time among tennis athletes).