In January 2015, I conducted a small survey to figure out who the biggest names in American sports were. At the time, it was done to show the impact that Derek Jeter had on baseball in his last season and how the Yankees, sports media, and brands had done a great job of celebrating him. On top of that, it was to show how baseball might have an issue filling the void in having a superstar.
This year, I wanted to do the same thing with no specific mission in mind. Who are the biggest names in major American sports? Who are the athletes that brands can use as endorsers for products? Who are the stars that the public and the media gravitate to?
This focuses on tennis. Two legends of the sport, in both men and women, still continue to do well in tournaments year after year. Who makes a bigger impact to a US audience?
THE BIGGEST NAMES IN TENNIS
Number 6: Venus Williams
- Achievements: 49 career singles titles, 14 Grand Slams
- Endorsements: Reebok, Wilson, Tide
Venus Williams is one of the greatest tennis players ever, and her Grand Slam success is a sign of that. She and her sister have dominated tennis for Americans for years. Despite her career being on the downhill, she will be known as one of the best to ever do it.
Number 5: Maria Sharapova
- Achievements: 35 career singles titles, 5 Grand Slams
- Endorsements: Nike (formerly), Tag Heuer (formerly), Porsche (formerly)
Before her recent doping scandal, Sharapova was the queen of endorsements for tennis. Despite not performing as well as others, her brand exploded right from when she won her first Wimbledon. Now, with the meldonium issues, sponsors are dropping her and it is not very likely that she will return to the level of popularity that she once was at.
Number 3 (tied): Venus & Serena Williams
- Achievements: 21 career doubles titles, 13 Grand Slams
Not only are they well-known individually, but the Williams sisters are often grouped together. Because of their singles and doubles success, the casual fan often puts the two of them together when thinking about tennis.
Number 3 (tied): Novak Djokovic
- Achievements: 61 career singles titles, 11 Grand Slams
- Endorsements: Sergio Tacchini, Peugeot, Seiko
Djokovic is the best player currently in men’s tennis, as his consistent dominance has resulted in few losses and plenty of Grand Slams. He is #1 right now and gets plenty of exposure on the major sports networks with each Grand Slam he wins. Once he crosses over into American endorsements, his brand will truly reach an elite level.
Number 2: Roger Federer
- Achievements: 88 career singles titles, 17 Grand Slams
- Endorsements: Nike, Rolex, Mercedes Benz
The greatest men’s tennis player in history, Federer has wowed many tennis fans throughout the 21st century. His success in Wimbledon year after year during the prime of his career took him to Pete Sampras levels and his rivalries with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are must-see TV.
Number 1: Serena Williams
- Achievements: 69 career singles titles, 21 Grand Slams
- Endorsements: Gatorade, Beats By Dre, Pepsi
Serena Williams is the queen of tennis in America, dominating majors all the way to winning Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year. With lots of success on the biggest stage year after year, she is very popular and well-known. She may go down as the greatest player in tennis history.
Like in golf, it’s an individual sport, so winning on the biggest stages helps to raise the popularity of a player.
We don’t know just yet who will take over for Djokovic and the Williams sisters once they go past their prime. There have been 3 or 4 players consistently winning every tournament every year so the next star isn’t known just yet.