Given that the most prestigious Grand Slam tournament takes place in England, Wimbledon, it’s fair to assume that the UK would have a wealth of tennis talent fighting for the top spot in the rankings.
Unfortunately, this hasn’t necessarily proved to be true over the years.
Yes, Wimbledon is a huge tournament hosted in London, but few British tennis players have won this Grand Slam.
For whatever reason, despite the huge popularity of the sport in the UK, the nation has failed to produce many tennis stars that can be considered among the best players of all time.
That’s not to say there haven’t been some fantastic British tennis players to emerge in recent times, though, and the future is bright.
In this guide we’re going to go through the best tennis players in the UK, past and present, so you know who to keep a lookout for in Wimbledon and beyond.
Best British Tennis Players
First, we’re going to talk about the all-time British greats.
The personalities that stole our hearts, made us believe as a nation, and had us glued to our TV sets for every Wimbledon Championship.
These players all had great technical skills, and many of them would compete regularly with the very best in the sport.
In recent memory, Andy Murray is hands-down the greatest British tennis player to grace the court.
While he may not always grace it with impeccable manners and polite discourse, the passionate Scot has more than earned his place as one of the elite stars of British tennis.
Perhaps his most notable win was at Wimbledon in 2013, when he broke down in tears having ended an unwanted streak of 77 years in which a British man last won the Grand Slam. Since 1936 British tennis fans have been on edge every time a UK star gets anywhere near the final, and that long wait was finally ended by Andy Murray to the nation’s great relief.
Along with this iconic win, Murray also won two other Grand Slams and regularly occupied a position at the top of the rankings alongside the likes of tennis royalty Roger Federer and the current number one ranked player Novak Djokovic.
Tim Henman may seem like an unusual pick for this list, as the former pro never quite made it all the way to win a Grand Slam tournament.
However, he more than merits his place on this list for his ability to rally the British public behind him and put on a great show.
Henman made such an impact, in fact, that the banked area where spectators famously gather in Wimbledon to watch the tournament just outside the courts is named after him. Henman Hill has become part and parcel of the Wimbledon experience, just as Henman was as a player.
His popularity has also translated into commentary, as he can now give back to the sport he loved with his vibrant analysis of the game.
As for the best British male tennis player, Fred Perry should definitely be in the running.
Perry was born in 1909 and sadly passed away in 1995, but his legacy as one of the British tennis greats lives on as he won an impressive eight Grand Slams as well as six Doubles titles.
He occupied the number one spot for a while, and was the first player to win all four Grand Slams once.
Christine Truman is a name that will be unfamiliar to many modern tennis fans, but should be well-known among older British fans.
Truman won a single Grand Slam, managing to do so at the age of just 18, which is of course an incredible feat.
She also suffered with partial sight in her left eye, competing at the top level for more than 12 years and enjoying a successful career.
Current British Tennis Rankings
According to the LTA, these are the top-ranked singles British players right now:
Dan Evans, age 31, arrived on the tennis scene with his professional debut in 2006.
Since then, he has slowly climbed the rankings and took a back seat to Andy Murray for the longest time. Ever since Murray’s injuries, though, Evans has seized the opportunity to claim the number one spot in the UK rankings.
He also recently ranked as high as 26th in the world rankings as of February 2021, and remains 26th going into Wimbledon. This makes him Britain’s number one male hope in the tournament on home soil, though Andy Murray will be competing as well currently sitting at 4th in the UK rankings.
Evans made headlines recently as it was revealed that he would be one of three top seeds in Wimbledon alongside fellow Brits Cameron Norrie and Jo Konta. This is the first time that Britain has had three singles seeds in 43 years.
Evans also plays best on grass and hard surfaces, which is good news for those hoping he does well in Wimbledon. At the Monte-Carlo Masters, Evans did the unthinkable and beat number one ranked Novak Djokovic in straight sets. This bodes well for the Brit's hopes in the upcoming tournaments this year.
Cameron Norrie, at 25 years old, is the number two ranked British player according to the LTA rankings. He currently holds the 34th world ranking, too.
Norrie turned pro as recently as 2017, which makes his position as the 2nd best British player very impressive. He had an incredible debut year beating Roberto Bautista-Agust in the Davis Cup, a player who was then ranked at 23 in the world.
Norrie is one of the best British prospects at Wimbledon having narrowly missed out on the Queen’s title to Matteo Berrettini, who is the 8th seed for the upcoming tournament.
Kyle Edmund is 26 and first turned pro in 2012. He is now the third ranked male British player, and he is ranked 74 in the world.
While he was born in South Africa, Edmund was raised in Hull from the age of just three.
Edmund has had a successful career in the sport, but without pulling off too many shock wins.
Andy Murray has slipped down the rankings in recent years through no fault of his own.
Once world number one, Murray suffered a series of debilitating injuries which hindered his ability to compete at the highest level.
Wimbledon will be a return to Grand Slam tennis for Murray after a long hiatus, though he played recently in the Queens tournament, losing in the second round to the eventual winner Matteo Berrettini.
Many Brits are hoping that Murray can get back to his best, and Murray has said he hopes as much too in recent interviews, but it’s a big ask with such a long period of inactivity.
For some background for those not familiar with the former British and world number one, Murray is 34 and turned pro in 2005. He is currently the 4th best British player in the rankings and 119 in the world.
His return to tennis after several years away came in the Biella ATP Challenger event which took place in February 2021. Murray got to the final of the tournament before losing out to Illya Marchenko in straight sets.
Murray did play several matches and tournaments in 2019 and 2020, with some great victories such as beating world no.7 Alexander Zverev in the Cincinnati ATP tour. But he hasn’t played regularly since 2017 and earlier.
Johanna Konta is Britain’s best hope for a female Wimbledon Grand Slam winner since Jo Durie in 1984.
At the age of 30, Konta holds the top spot in the British female singles rankings, and rank 30 in the world rankings. Turning pro in 2008, Konta has achieved a career-high of 4th in the world rankings in 2017, proving that she’s capable of competing with the biggest stars of the sport.
Konta is the only female British player to be seeded in the upcoming Wimbledon tournament.
Heather Watson is one of the top female tennis players occupying the 2nd spot in the British rankings.
29 years old, Watson turned pro in 2010 and has been a mainstay of the WTA top 50 rankings for a long time.
Watson won the Wimbledon mixed doubles back in 2016, and now she sits at rank 65 in the world rankings having achieved a career-high of 38th position.
Harriet Dart is ranked third among British female players at the age of just 24, having turned pro in 2015.
Dart has been relatively successful in the WTA tour since debuting in 2015, and is a regular for the GB Fed Cup team. She has a world ranking of 141, and a career high of 121.
Fran Jones is just 20 years old, which makes her ranking as the fourth female tennis player in Britain quite the accomplishment.
Jones holds a ranking of 210, with a career high of 200.
She was born with a rare genetic condition called EED syndrome, which means she is missing a finger on both hands as well as three toes.
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