It took Roger Federer five sets to edge out Marin Cilic in the 2018 Australian Open final. However, with a wealth of experience to call upon, the ageing Swiss star held his nerve to secure his sixth Australian Open title.
The victory took his total haul of Grand Slam titles to 20, having previously won one French Open title, eight Wimbledon titles and five US Open titles.
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By securing his latest title victory, Federer became the first male tennis star to reach that mark, but where does he place on the overall list of most Grand Slam winners?
1. Margaret Court – 24 Grand Slams
While her questionable comments on homosexuality, following Australia’s vote to legalise same-sex marriage, have tarnished Margaret Court’s reputation somewhat, her status as one of the sport’s greatest ever players cannot be revoked.
Court is the most successful player in Grand Slam history, having made 29 finals between 1960 and 1973, of which she won all but five.
The Australian pro was particularly prolific on home soil, having dominated the Australian Open in those 14 seasons, winning the tournament on 10 occasions. Between those victories, she also claimed five French Open titles, three Wimbledon titles and five US Open titles, taking her haul to 24.
2. Serena Williams – 23 Grand Slams
Set to make her competitive comeback in the Fed Cup in February after pausing due to pregnancy, Serena Williams will be hopeful of matching Court’s current record at the French Open in May.
Until then, she will be known as the second most successful athlete in Grand Slam history, having claimed 23 titles throughout her career.
Since claiming her first title at the 1999 US Open, Williams has remained a top contender throughout, winning six US Open titles, seven Wimbledon titles, three French Open titles and seven Australian Open titles.
Like Federer, age hasn’t yet caught up to the American star, who has claimed recent wins in all four Grand Slam tournaments: Australian Open (2017), Wimbledon (2016), French Open (2015) and US Open (2014).
3. Steffi Graf – 22 Grand Slams
German pro Steffi Graf retired in 1999 with 22 Grand Slam titles, just short of Court’s record. Despite winning the French Open in her final season, Graf had previously gone two seasons without making it past the quarter final stage, so making it to 25 seemed unlikely.
However, despite missing out on the record, she still retired as one of the greatest stars in the history of women’s tennis, having dominated throughout the 1990s.
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She was particularly prolific at Wimbledon. She won the competition in three consecutive years between 1991 and 1993 and claimed the title five times in six years between 1991 and 1996. However, her best year came at the start of her career in 1998, when she became the only player in history to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in the same year.
4. Roger Federer – 20 Grand Slams
Despite pundits and former professionals hailing Federer as the “greatest of all time” following his Australian Open victory, he is still some way off of earning that title when going by Grand Slam wins.
However, Federer does lead the way in men’s tennis. His victory at the 2018 Australian Open was the 20th Grand Slam title of his career, which extended his record at the top.
Despite his recent success, having claimed three Grand Slams since January 2017, the vast majority of Federer’s success came between 2004 and 2009. The Swiss star dominated men’s tennis during that period, winning 13 out of a possible 24 tournaments.
His peak years included a run of five consecutive Wimbledon victories between 2003 and 2007 and five consecutive US Open victories between 2004 and 2008.
5. Helen Wills – 19 Grand Slams
Helen Wills was the first women’s tennis player to reach legendary status, having held the women’s world number one spot for nine years, including a run of six consecutive years between 1927 and 1933.
Wills is quite possibly the greatest of all time. She is definitely the greatest of her time and was, until Court came along, the greatest player in Grand Slam history. However, she currently sits fifth with 19 titles, having dominated the US Open (then the US Championships) and Wimbledon during the 1920s and 1930s.
6. Chris Evert – 18 Grand Slams
Former world number one Chris Evert dominated women’s tennis in the late 1970s and early 1980s, holding the top rank for four consecutive years between 1975 and 1978.
Evert has the opportunity to be the most successful player in tennis history, having made it to a record number of Grand Slam finals throughout her career. However, despite making 34 finals, she prevailed in just 18 of those tournaments.
Over 17 years, Evert claimed seven wins at the French Open, three Wimbledon titles, six US Open titles and two Australian Open titles.
7. M. Navratilova – 18 Grand Slams
Joint with Evert on 18 Grand Slam titles, having won Wimbledon a record-breaking nine times, the US Open four times, French Open twice and Australian Open three times, Martina Navratilova sits among the tennis greats.
However, her Grand Slam total doesn’t really do her justice. Not only did Navratilova excel in singles matches, but she was also one of the best on the doubles and mixed stage during her prime.
According to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, no player, male or female, has won more single tournaments (167) or matches (2,189) than Navratilova since the Open Era began in 1968.
8. Rafael Nadal – 16 Grand Slams
Were it not for Federer, Nadal would likely place far higher up this list and vice versa. In fact, were the two born in different eras, Federer could have potentially surpassed Court’s 24 titles by this point.
The two have met on eight occasions in Grand Slam finals, with Nadal securing the victory in five of those. He still sits four titles behind his familiar foe. However, age is on his side.
A dominance force in the French Open, Nadal has won that tournament on ten occasions since securing his first Grand Slam in 2005. His six other victories came at the 2009 Australian Open, Wimbledon 2008 and 2010 and the 2010, 2013 and 2017 US Opens.
9. Pete Sampras – 14 Grand Slams
Pete Sampras was once the most successful man in singles Grand Slam history with 14 titles. That put him ahead of iconic players such as Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. However, the American star has since been surpassed by Federer and Nadal, leaving him barely clinging on to his place in the top ten.
With Novak Djokovic hot on his tail, he could slip further in the next few years. Yet, he will alwaus be remembered as one of the biggest names in 1990s tennis, having held the world number one ranking for six consecutive years between 1993 and 1998.