Last Updated on September 1, 2022
The Grand Slam tournaments of tennis are the four major tournaments of the tennis circuit presided over by the International Tennis Federation. The Grand Slams are the pinnacle of the sport, offering the best level of competition, the highest prize money and the most ranking points. The Grand Slams have a history rich in both competition and drama.
The number of top ranked players that take care of even the finest details to ensure their performance on court is mind blowing. This level of professionalism extends to the way players look after their bodies, with physical therapy and nutrition playing a major role in a player’s success.
One additional consequence of players being so much more professional these days is the extension of their careers. Many of the world’s top players are now able to travel with a physio, coach, strength and conditioning team and a support staff that helps them be at their best all year round. Therefore, it is much more common to see players competing well into their late 30s, where they may have previously retired in their early 30s.
The level of dedication and commitment that today’s professional tennis players exhibit is incredible. They go to great lengths to make sure they are physically and mentally prepared for competition. This has led to players being able to extend their careers well into their 30s.
The majority of the oldest ever grand slam winners have emerged in the last 20 years or so, but even before then, a few players were able to achieve great things at the top of their profession despite being older than 40. So let’s have a deeper look at the oldest ever grand slam champions and see how they managed to keep playing at such a high level!
Oldest Grand Slam Winners
10. Rod Laver
Rod Laver is a former Australian tennis player who was born on August 9, 1938, in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. He, along with Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic, are the only tennis players to have won all the Grand Slam tournaments at least twice.
Laver is the only player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam (winning all four major titles in the same calendar year) twice in singles, in 1962 and 1969; the latter remains the only time a man has done so in the Open Era. When he won his last Grand Slam tournament, he was 31 years and 18 days old. The Laver Cup tournament and the Rod Laver Arena are named after him.
9. Arthur Ashe
Arthur Ashe was the first African-American to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon and the US Open, and the first African American to be ranked number one in the world. Arthur Ash became the first, African-American tennis player, to win the US Open and Wimbledon singles titles. In the 1975 Wimbledon finals, Arthur Ashe defeated top-ranked Jimmy Connors. At the time of the match, Ashe was 31 years, 11 months, and 13 days old.
He was also the first African-American to win No. 1 in the world rankings and the first to be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Always an activist, when Ash learned that he had contracted AIDS through blood transfusions, he focused his efforts on raising awareness about the disease before finally succumbing to it on February 6, 1993.
8. Andre Agassi
Former professional tennis player Andre Agassi won several USTA junior national titles before turning professional at the age of 16. In 1992, Agassi won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. More victories soon followed with a U.S. Open win in 1994 and the Australian Open in 1995.
After a career slump, Agassi returned to top form in 1999 with wins at the U.S. Open and French Open. Andre Agassi won the Australian Open in 2003, defeating Rainer Schuttler, who was ranked 31st at the time, to become one of the oldest players to win a Major. At the moment, he was 32 years, 8 months, and 14 days old. He retired from the competition in 2006.
7. Flavia Pennetta
Flavia Pennetta is a former Italian professional tennis player. She became Italy’s first top ten single on August 17, 2009, and the first Italian to be ranked No. 1 in the doubles world on February 28, 2011. She is a grand champion after winning the Australian doubles title in 2011. In the women’s doubles with Gisela Dulco and the US Open 2015 title of single over childhood friend Roberta Vinci in the first all-Italian grand finale, when she was 33 years and 199 days old.
Pennetta won ten other WTA singles titles, including the 2014 Indian Wells Open, where she defeated the top two seeds. Her other highlights in doubles include winning the 2010 WTA Finals and finishing runner-up at the 2005 and 2014 US Opens, partnering respectively with Elena Dementieva and Martina Hingis.
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6. Andres Gimeno
Andrés Gimeno Tolaguera was a Spanish tennis player. His greatest achievement came in 1972 when he won the French Open and he remained the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion of the Open era at 34 years, 9 months, and 19 days of age.
After his professional career, he decided to join the tennis circuit for retired players called Legends Championship. He also founded a tennis club in 1974 called “Club de Tenis Andres Gimeno” in Castelldefels, Barcelona.
5. Serena Williams
Indeed, Serena Williams is the oldest female tennis player who won a major. She achieved the feat at the Australian Open 2017 when she defeated her sister, Venus Williams, in the finals to win her 23rd Grand Slam title. She was 35 years and 125 days old at that time.
Williams was the world’s highest-paid woman athlete in 2016, earning almost $29 million. She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes’ list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, with $27 million in prize money and endorsements.
4. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic began playing tennis at age 4 and was sent to train in Germany at age 13. At 16, after winning five ITF tournaments, he was ranked as the 40th best junior tennis player in the world.
When Djokovic won the last Grand Slam tournament (Wimbledon), he was 35 years, 1 month, and 18 days old. Djokovic has won 21 Grand Slam titles (major) and will try to achieve more wins at Slams.
3. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal began playing tennis at age three and turned pro at 15. With his topspin-heavy shots and tenacity, Nadal has won a record 14 French Open singles titles and holds the record for first all-time in the men’s game with 22 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal’s first victory in Paris came at age 19 in 2005. He also won four consecutive titles on two separate occasions from 2005 to 2008 and 2017 – 2020, and an open-era record of five consecutive titles from 2010 to 2014. His last victory at the Grand Slam tournament was in 2022 (French Open) when he was 36 years and 2 days old.
2. Roger Federer
Roger Federer is a Swiss professional tennis player. He was ranked world No. 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for 310 weeks, including a record 237 consecutive weeks, and has finished as the year-end No. 1 five times.
He was among his country’s top junior tennis players by age 11. He turned pro in 1998, and with his victory at Wimbledon in 2003, he became the first Swiss man to win a Grand Slam singles title. Federer has won a record-setting 20 Grand Slam singles championships. His last victory at the Grand Slam tournament was in 2018 at the Australian Open, when he was 36 years, 5 months, and 7 days old.
1. Ken Rosewall
Rosewall turned professional in 1956, and that year he claimed his first U.S. Open men’s singles championship.
Ken Rosewall became the oldest grand slam winner when he won the Australian Open in 1972, defeating Malcolm Anderson. He was 37 years, 1 month, and 24 days old when he won the championship, cementing his place in history.
He had one of the longest professional careers in tennis. His career Grand Slam wins included nine doubles championships and one mixed doubles title. In 1980 Rosewall was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.