Tennis: The Life and Times of the No. 1s

Rohini IyerSenior Writer IDecember 7, 2008

The title of the No. 1 player in the world might be viewed as an encouragement, as an added prerequisite to a well-performing individual. However, invariably after acquiring the top slot, it is the individual who leaves his or her aura behind on the numeric value.

The players may retire, positions may change, but when we think of a certain player as during his or her heydays, it recalls the imprint left behind like a fossil.

Thinking on the above lines, I garnered some gems, past and current, who have etched their uniqueness all over.


1. Roger Federer

His reign as the world's best tennis player epitomised grace and sophistication. Though he still has those skills, it was when he ruled the roost that his skill was best seen and exemplified.


2. Pete Sampras

Unfortunately for me, I was never a tennis fan when Sampras played. One thing that I have learned about this legend is that he was a thorough gentleman at his peak and I am sure all those who have seen him play will agree to this.


3. Marat Safin

Safin as the world No. 1 brings memories of a certain non-conformity to rules and regulations, a loose end that refuses to get tied.


4. Lleyton Hewitt

As the last Australian to hold the title (until now), Hewitt symbolised the Aussie spirit of defiance and attack. The "never-say-die" attitude of the Aussies is something Lleyton's dominance reflects.


5. Justine Henin

In her prime, she emanated a light, a sheen of resilience, a feminine brilliance that has forever forged the mind and heart of every tennis fan.


6. Venus Williams/Serena Williams

These sisters bring back memories of fierce competition, not with other players, but with each other, as both of them were vying for the top spot at the same time. Such things happen only once in a blue moon. The world will remember their neck-and-neck games for generations to come.


7. Martina Hingis

Hingis represents absolute teen power. When she became the world No. 1 at the 16, she turned millions of heads in her direction. Girls wanted to be like her, parents wanted their daughters to emulate her. Going back down memory lane, the most striking thought is that of a cheeky teen who forced the best to bow before her.


I have only listed seven, though all the players have contributed something, but I chose only those about whom I had better knowledge. If any person feels the same about any other player, or feels that I have made an error, please feel free to comment.