The Most Wealthy Tennis Players Of All-Time And How They Won Big

Tennis | 7/2/19

Tennis players have a short shelf life and therefore, a short opportunity to make big money from playing in tournaments. One advantage players do have, however, is that many of them begin their professional careers as teenagers. Players who play well into their thirties can make some serious money.

The money is obviously better now that it has ever been. And the best players can ink endorsement deals that could potentially pay them even more than event purses. Many legendary players can also continue to play on the senior tour. Below is a list of the top net worths from the game’s best players past and present.

Ana Ivanovic Earned $16 Million During A Brilliant Career

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LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images
LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images

Serbian Ana Ivanovic was born in Belgrade in 1987. She turned pro in 2003 at just 16 years of age. Only three years later, she made her breakthrough and captured the United States Open Series defeating well-known players like Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova.

She continued playing and was able the win her only Grand Slam, The French Open, in 2008. Following her win, she became the number one ranked women’s tennis player in the world. Ivanovic continued her successful play up until 2016 when she retired from the sport. In the same year, she married German soccer star Bastian Schweinsteiger, and they have two children together.

Chris Evert Grand Slammed Her Way To $16 Million

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Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

Chris Evert, who was born in 1954, turned pro in 1969 at 15-years-old. She was an immediate superstar in the game and won her first Grand Slam, the 1974 French Open, at just 19 years of age. She also won Wimbledon in 1974, capping a second world major during her teenage years.

This was just the start of a brilliant career. She won a total of 18 Grand Slams. She was particularly adept at the French Open which she won 7 times and the US Open which she won 6 times. Her career earnings could be higher but purses weren’t as large in her heyday.

Jim Courier’s $18 Million Came From His Brilliant Open Play

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Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Jim Courier was born in Florida in 1970 and became a professional tennis player in 1988 at 18-years-old. This was not the best era to be a male tennis player as Courier often competed against players like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. This, however, did not prevent him from achieving a high level of success.

Courier won his first Grand Slam by defeating Andre Agassi in the finals of the 1991 French Open. The red-headed star went back-to-back, winning the French Open again in 1992. He also captured two Australian Opens in 1992 and 1993. In 2005, Courier was named to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Billie Jean King’s Athletic Prowess Earned Her $20 Million

Billy Jean King
Getty Images
Getty Images

Like Chris Evert, Billie Jean King was another tennis great who was simply born in the wrong era. The bespectacled legend began her 34 year professional career in 1959. Along the way she captured 12 Grand Slam singles, including 6 wins at Wimbledon. King also captured 16 Women’s Doubles Grand Slams and 12 Mixed Doubles Grand Slams.

King also struck an incredible win for women’s rights when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the so-called Battle of the Sees. In addition to being named to numerous Tennis Hall of Fames, she was also honored with the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 2009.

Rafael Nadal Brilliantly Played His Way To $180 Million

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Photo by TPN/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Spain in 1987. While he was both a promising soccer (his Father was a pro) and tennis player growing up, he eventually had to move to only playing tennis. The choice has been a successful one as the lefthander has racked up a multitude of Grand Slam wins.

The speedy Spaniard dominates at the French Open where he has won an astonishing 12 titles. He’s also won the US Open three times, the Australian Open once, and two Wimbledons. His fine play isn’t the only way Nadal generates money as he also benefits from a number of endorsement deals.

Agnieszka Radwanska Made $25 Million But Never Won A Grand Slam

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Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Agnieszka Radwanska was born in Krakow Poland in 1989. Prior to her career, Poland was not well known for their tennis players. Radwanska turned professional in April of 2005 and quickly went about changing that. The Pole played a lot of tennis in her career and finished ip with a career record of 594-265.

Radwanska has tremendous success in her career though she never did capture a Grand Slam in single’s play. She was able to win plenty on the tour though, finishing 7th all-time in earnings for a female player. In 2013, she was awarded the Polish Gold Cross of Merit.

Andy Roddick Smashed His Way To $30 Million

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Ryan Young/PGA TOUR
Ryan Young/PGA TOUR

Andy Roddick came onto the scene during an interesting time for American Men’s tennis. Born in 1982, he was well known as a promising prospect going back to his early teenage years. Following in the footsteps of players like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, the Roddick hype-train ran in overdrive.

The biggest moment in the Omaha-born player’s tenure came in 2003 when he won the US Open, his first and only Grand Slam title. After a Hall of Fame career, Roddick retired from the sport in 2012. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with his supermodel wife, Brooklyn Decker and his two children.

Bjorn Borg Could Have Earned More Than $40 Million

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Universal/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Universal/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

When people think about men’s tennis in the 1970’s they usually think of three names: John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Bjorn Borg. Borg came onto the scene like a lightning bolt after turning pro in 1973. Success came fast as he won his first Grand Slam at the 1974 French Open.

The winning would come in droves after that. Borg captured 6 French Opens and 5 Wimbledon titles over the course of his career. That career, however, would be amazingly short. Bjorg shocking retired in 1983 at only 26 years of age. After his tennis days, he started a very successful fashion label in his native Sweden.

Li Na Had A Slow Start But Soon Earned $50 Million

2018 ITF Junior Masters
Zhong Zhi/VCG via Getty Images
Zhong Zhi/VCG via Getty Images

Chinese-born Li Na was not always a tennis players. She spent the first 8 years of her life playing badminton like her Father, Li Shengpeng, who had played the sport professionally. Once she dropped the badminton racquet for a tennis racquet, though, she appeared to be a complete natural.

She turned pro in 1999 and it took her quite a while to achieve significant success. She captured her first Grand Slam title at the 2011 French Open and won another Slam at the 2014 Australian Open. Li is revered in her hometown China and in 2013, was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Anna Kournikova’s Sponsorships Helped Her Earn $50 Million

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Rebecca Naden/PA Images via Getty Images

When Anna Kournikova first became a professional tennis player, she may have received more notice for her looks than for her game. Shortly afterwards, though, her tennis was the thing that was turning everyone’s heads. Born in Russia, the tennis prodigy moved to Florida to further her game and turned pro at the age of 14.

While she was a good singles player, Kournikova achieved the majority of her success playing doubles. She captured the Australian Open doubles title with Martina Hingis in 1999 and 2002. Injuries forced Kournikova to retire at the age of 21. She had twins with pop superstar Enrique Iglesias in 2017.

Venus Williams’ Brilliant Career Has Earned Her $95 Million

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Photo by Jon Buckle – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images
Photo by Jon Buckle – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

When Venus and Serena Williams burst onto the scene in 1994, the pro tennis world had never really seen anything like them. The girls were trained by their father, Richard, and Venus turned pro at the age of 14. Starting so young, it took a while for Venus to make an impact, but once she did, it lasted for a long time.

Venus captured seven Grand Slam singles titles including five Wimbledons and two US Opens. The Williams sisters were also a force on the doubles scene, taking home an additional 14 Slams. While age has taken its toll, Venus still plays regularly on the tour.

John McEnroe Screamed His Way To $100 Million

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Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for The Laver Cup
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images for The Laver Cup

While most pro tennis players hail from warm places like Florida or California, John McEnroe hailed from the unlikely hometown of Queens, New York. The tennis prodigy turned pro at the age of 18 and quickly went about making his mark on the tour. He came into his own in the same era as stars like Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg.

McEnroe captured his first Grand Slam in just his second year as a pro, winning the 1979 US Open. He went on the win 3 more US Opens along with 3 Wimbledon titles. Known as much for his mouth as for his play, McEnroe is still a well remembered player 20 years after his retirement.

Andy Murray Made $100 Million And Then He Was Knighted

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Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Great Britain’s favorite son, Andy Murray, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1987. Murray played almost all of his junior tennis in Scotland and turned professional at the age of 18 in 2005. He spent the early part of his career grinding through tour events and working his way up the ladder.

Murray’s play really began to take off at the 2010 Australian Open where he made his first Grand Slam final. He then won Slams at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016. Sir Andy Murray was knighted by the Prince Charles in May of 2019.

Maria Sharapova Scored $135 Million And Now She Owns A Candy Company

Maria Sherapova
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Getty

It’s not uncommon for star players to turn pro at a very young age. And normally, it takes those players some years of experience and maturing before they start to regularly win Grand Slam titles. That wasn’t true of Russian-born Maria Sharapova who turned pro when she turned 14 years old.

At the age of 17, Sharapova captured her first Grand Slam Victory at Wimbledon in 2004. She won each Grand Slam title at least once and won the French Open twice, in 2012 and 2014. Sharapova is still an active player and also started a candy line called Sugarpova.

Pete Sampras Took Home $150 Million But Never A French Open

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Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images

Pete Sampras played in an era that included incredible players like Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanesevic and Jim Courier. At the end of his career, though, Sampras stood above all of them. Born in Washington DC and raised in Florida, the right handed player won his first Grand Slam at the 1990 US Open at just 19 years old.

That tournament began an incredible Grand Slam run that saw Sampras win the US Open 5 times, Wimbledon 7 times, and the Australian Open twice. Incredibly, Sampras was never able to win the French Open, though he was a finalist there in 1996.

Andre Agassi Earned $175 Million Then Married Steffi Graf

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Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage
Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage

Born to an Armenian Father and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Agassi began his career as one of the most reviled players on the pro tour. The cocky player won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 1992. As he matured, Agassi became much more respectful and was absolutely beloved by fans.

He also did a lot of winning. The Las Vegas native won the Australian Open 4 times, The French Open once and the US Open twice. Once his playing career came to an end, Agassi married tennis legend Steffi Graf. Agassi retired in 2006. He and Graf have four children together.

Serena Williams Has Defeated Pretty Much Everyone To Earn $180 Million

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Photo by TPN/Getty Images

Coming in at number five is the worldwide tennis phenomenon, Serena Williams. Serena and her sister Venus did not have the same kind of training as most tennis pro’s but that hasn’t seemed to matter at all. Williams has now clearly established herself as the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.

Her list of titles is staggeringly long. Serena has won each of the four Grand Slams numerous times. Her total of 23 singles Grand Slams adds to her 14 doubles titles. She even added two mixed doubles Grand Slams back in 1998. The 37-year-old is still active and moving towards adding more trophies to her mantle.

Novak Djokovic Has Earned $200 Million And Is Still Playing

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Photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images

Like many others at the very top of this list, Novak Djokovic has been playing professional tennis for a very long time. Born in Belgrade in 1987, the Serbian player turned pro at the age of 16 and has been winning tournaments ever since.

Djokovic has the unfortunate privilege of having to compete against two of the greatest players of all-time in Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Still, the Serb has been able to win 15 Grand Slams including capturing the Australian Open title 7 times. Still going strong at 32, Djokovic has the opportunity to add more money to his bank account.

Roger Federer’s $450 Million Couldn’t Beat The Billionaire On Our List

ATP tournament in Halle
Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images
Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images

Roger Federer has been a tennis prodigy from a young age and it can be argued that he is the greatest player of all time. Born in Basel, Switzerland in 1981, Federer has won more Grand Slam tournaments than any other male player in tennis history.

The titles speak for themselves: six Australian Opens, eight Wimbledon titles, five US Opens, and one French Open. The French was always an uphill battle for Federer as that tournament is tailor-made for his chief rival, Rafael Nadal. While he is nearing the end of his career, the hard-hitting Swede is still a threat to win any tournament he enters.

Ion Tiriac: The $2 Billion Tennis Legend

Ion Tiriac
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Getty

This player is a bit of a cheat. All of the stars on this list have compiled their net worth both through careers earnings as well as post-tennis endeavors. And Ion Tiriac was a professional tennis player who achieved a high level of success.

As a player, Tiriac won the 1970 French Open alongside fellow Romanian, Ilie Nastase. Following his career, he became heavily involved in the world of business. Tiriac has made his money in a number of ways including auto sales, retail, insurance and air travel. He also spent time as a tennis coach after his career mentoring players like Mary Jo Fernandez and Marat Safin.

Boris Becker Has Remained Active Since Retirement And Can Claim A $35 Million Fortune Because Of It

Boris Becker of Germany kisses the Gentleman's trophy
Steve Powell/Allsport/Getty Images
Steve Powell/Allsport/Getty Images

German player Boris Becker got his start in tennis early on, winning the first of his six major singles titles at the young age of 17. He went on to 13 Master Series victories and an Olympic gold medal for doubles. His fast serve and excellent volleying earned him the colorful nicknames “Boom Boom” and and “Baron von Slam.”

Becker’s post-retirement time has been spent on endeavors such as poker and coaching Novak Djokovic. He’s still hugely influential in the sport.

Justine Henin’s One-Handed Backhand Helped Her Earn $14 Million

Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne competes
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liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images

Belgian champ Justine Henin has seven Grand Slam singles titles under her belt. She was ranked No. 1 in the world for an astonishing 117-week run, and was also the year-end No. 1 in 2003, 2006, and 2007. She’s considered one of the best female players in the history of the sport and was the first Belgian player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Henin’s impressive one-handed backhand, as well as her footspeed and the variety of her game, are all reasons for her great success in the sport. John McEnroe has called her backhand “the best single-handed backhand in both the women’s or men’s game.” She retired in 2011.

18 Grand Slam Titles Translated To $15 Million For Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova of the USA holds up the winner plate
Allsport UK /Allsport
Allsport UK /Allsport

Hailing from Czechoslovakia, Marina Navratilova won the country’s national championship when she was just 15 years old. She went pro in 1975 and was considered the greatest female tennis player in the world for 1975 through 2005, according to Tennis Magazine. Navratilova is the only player in history who has held the top spots in both singles and doubles tennis for over 200 weeks.

Navratilova played against Chris Evert in a 1985 French Open match that some fans consider to be one of the best in the sport’s history. Although she narrowly lost that game, Navratilova has had a career full of impressive wins. She retired in 2006, with a net worth estimated at $15 million.

Dropping Out Of School To Play Tennis Paid Off For Michael Chang: $30 Million

MichaMichael Chang of the United States serves to Wayne Ferreira
Simon Bruty/Getty Images
Simon Bruty/Getty Images

Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008, Michael Chang was ranked No. 2 in the world at the peak of his career. His short stature required him to play a defensive game that relied on his speed and agility.

Chang dropped out of high school and got a GED in order to focus on tennis. When he was just 17 he won the 1989 French Open, before going on to win 34 top-level professional singles titles. He retired from the professional tour in 2003 but joined Jim Courier’s senior tour in 2006.

Staying At #1 Netted Ivan Lendl $40 Million

Ivan Lendl of the Czechoslovakia hits a return
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Ivan Lendl’s career accomplishments are nothing short of stunning. The Czech-American player can claim 94 singles titles, eight major titles, and seven year-end championships. But perhaps the most impressive feat that Lendl can claim is staying the world’s No. 1 ranked player for 270 weeks during the 1980s.

His aggressive, powerful technique was dubbed the “Lendl style” and changed the way many play tennis. After retiring in 1994, Lendl went on to coach other players including Andy Murray.

Doubles Specialist Pam Shriver Is Worth $10 Million

pam Shriver, winner of the Women's Singles final
Staff/Birmingham Post and Mail Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Staff/Birmingham Post and Mail Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Pam Shriver hit the professional tennis scene in the late 1970s. She was a master at doubles and earned 111 women’s doubles titles during the 1980s and 1990s! Shriver also racked up including 21 women’s singles titles during that period and also scored a women’s doubles gold medal with partner Zina Garrison at the 1988 Olympic Games.

Shriver retired in 1997 and has had a lucrative career since leaving the sport professionally. Today, she works as an ESPN tennis broadcaster where it’s estimated she earns $400,000 a year.

$14 Million Can Replace A Lot Of Broken Rackets For Marat Safin

 Russian Davis Cup tennis player Marat Safin hits a backhand shot
STEVEN R. SCHAEFER/AFP/Getty Images
STEVEN R. SCHAEFER/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Marat Safin is the tallest tennis player ever to reach the No. 1 ranking, a position he achieved in 2000 and held for 9 weeks. Known for his temper and frequent outbursts, Safin claims to have broken 1,055 rackets over the course of his career.

He became the first Russian man to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon (2008) despite his dislike of grass courts and was also the first Russian tennis player to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (2016).

’70s Tennis Phenom Ilie Năstase Is Now Worth $15 Million

Nastase reclines on the court
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Romanian superstar Ilie Năstase was the world’s No. 1 tennis player from 23 August 1973 to 2 June 1974. Only ten elite players in the history of the sport have won more than 100 ATP professional titles, and he is one of them. He also has seven Grand Slam titles, four Masters Grand Prix year-end championship titles, and seven Championship Series titles.

In 1991, Năstase was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991. His net worth today is estimated to be near $15 million, with $2 million of it from prize money.

20 Professional Titles = $16 Million Payday For David Ferrer

David Ferrer swings the racket
Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Spanish tennis star David Ferrer Ern holds the odd distinction of the most match wins on the ATP tour with no Grand Slam tournament win. Despite this, the three-time Davis Cup champion had quite an impressive professional career and reached #3 in the world rankings.

Ferrer’s many wins on the court made him the 7th highest-earning player in the history of tennis (when not counting for inflation). He just retired in May 2019 and his net worth is estimated to be $16 million.

Svetlana Kuznetsova Is Worth A Staggering $30 Million

Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia plays a forehand
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Svetlana Kuznetsova grew up admiring her fellow Russian player Marat Safin and now appears on this list along with him. She turned pro in 2000 and by 2007 had risen to the rank of No. 2 in the world. She was only 22 at the time. Kuznetsova won US Open and the French Open for singles and is an accomplished doubles player too, having snagged the Australian Open twice for doubles.

Although her total prize winnings come in around $20, she has income from other sources that send her net worth skyrocketing to around $30. And she’s still playing professionally, despite a decline in performance in recent years.

Steffi Graf Can Hold Her Own With A $30 Million Net Worth

Tennis Player Steffi Graf at Press Conference
David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Although her individual net worth might not be as much as her husband’s, Steffi Graf is a legendary player in her own right. In fact, the German star held the Women’s Tennis Association’s No. 1 ranking for 377 weeks in a row beginning in August of 1987. That’s a record that no player, male or female, has topped since.

In addition, she won six French Open singles titles, seven Wimbledon singles titles, five U.S. Open singles titles, and four Australian Open titles. Graf and Boris Becker are credited with making tennis a popular sport in Germany, and she was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.

Former No. 1 Jimmy Connors Is Worth $12 Million Today

Jimmy Connors of the U.S. chases down a return
CAROL NEWSOM/AFP/Getty Images
CAROL NEWSOM/AFP/Getty Images

Jimmy Connors is a legend in the game of tennis and is considered by some to be the greatest player in the sport’s history. He reached No. 1 in July of 1974 and held the spot until August 1977 — 160 consecutive weeks. He reached No. 1 eight more times during his long and successful career.

Connors’ titles include one Australian Open, two Wimbledons, five US Opens, three year-end championships, and 17 Grand Prix Super Series. He’s also one of a small group of players who’ve won the Junior Orange Bowl championship twice. Connors retired in 1996.

Australian Favorite Rod Laver Has Amassed A $28 Million Fortune

Australian tennis player Rod Laver stretches to reach a ball
AFP/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

From 1964 to 1970, Australian Rod Laver was the No. 1 ranked tennis player. He also holds the record for the most singles titles in tennis history, with 200. One of Laver’s unique talents was his ability to play an excellent game on every different court surface: hard, grass, clay, carpet, and parquet.

Laver is admired and beloved by fellow Australians. In 2016 Laver was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia, and in 2000, an arena at Melbourne Park, which is where the Australian Open is held, was named the Rod Laver Arena.

Twins Bob And Mike Bryan Are Worth A Combined $18 Million

Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan in action during their mens doubles match
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Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Stanford University graduate Robert “Bob” Bryan went professional in 1998. His twin brother Michael is also a pro tennis player, and together the two have been racking up wins for years. ATP named the brothers the “Team of the Decade” for 2000–2009.

Additionally, the Bryans are just the second men’s doubles team ever to complete the career Golden Slam at the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London. Although sidelined with an injury during his 2018 season, Bob Bryan is estimated to be worth around $10 million today while Mike’s net worth is $8 million.

Guillermo Vilas’ Strong Game Earned Him Nearly $5 Million In Prize Money

Argentine tennis player Guillermo Vilas wins the Masters Tournament
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Guillermo Vilas was one of the top tennis players in the world throughout the 1970s. The Argentine athlete was No. 1 on the Grand Prix tennis circuit’s for three years: 1974, 1975, and 1977. He reached No. 2 on the ATP rankings in April 1975 and stayed there for a total of 83 weeks.

Vilas’ other tennis accomplishments include nine Grand Prix Super Series titles, four Grand Slam tournaments, one year-end Masters, and 62 ATP titles. He ended his illustrious and profitable professional career in 1992, with about $4.9 million in total prize winnings.

The Big Comeback

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On April 14, 2019, Tiger Woods did something no one thought he would ever do again; win the Masters at Augusta. The big comeback victory netted the formerly down and out Woods over $2 million! The celebration began as soon as he sunk his final putt.

The scene was one 22 years in the making. To cap things off, Woods embraced his son in the same spot at Augusta that his own father hugged him after his first win all those years ago.

Origins Of His Nickname

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Doug Benc/Getty Images
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Eldrick Tont Woods’ parents met in Thailand when Earl, his father, was touring Thailand in 1968. When he met Kutilda, it was love at first sight. She is of Chinese, Thai, and Dutch ancestry in contrast to Earl’s African American background.

Tiger says that this mixed blood makes him “Cabilansian” (a combination of Caucasian, Black, American Indian and Asian). His nickname “Tiger” was given to him by a friend of his father, Col. Vuong Dang Phong, who was also called Tiger by his friends.

A Quick Start to His Career

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YouTube
YouTube

Tiger Woods grew up in Orange County, California. His father, who was a single-handicap golfer in his own right, was determined that he be given the opportunity to hit the golf course as early as possible. Tiger picked up his first golf club at the age of two, and with free access to the Navy’s golf course, his game quickly matured.

Woods was just three-years-old when he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show and competed against the legendary Bob Hope on the putting green. He also shot 48 over 8 holes on the Navy course that year.

His First Tournament Loss Was to John Daly

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Phil Inglis/Getty Images
Phil Inglis/Getty Images

Earl found himself outplayed by his son for the first time when Tiger turned 11. Woods would break 70 for the first time when he turned 12. He attended his first major junior tournament at the age of 13.

He faced off against John Daly at the end of the Big I in 1989. Daly very nearly lost to Woods. It took four birdies on the final four holes for him to win by a single stroke. When Woods was 15, he became the youngest ever U.S. Junior Amateur Champion.

School, Golf, and College

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Tiger Woods was a stutterer and has said that his school days were something of a nightmare. He famously reached out to a boy contemplating suicide to explain his own problems with not fitting in at school. Despite his problems, his high school classmates voted him “most likely to succeed.” He was snapped up by Stanford University on a golf scholarship to study an economics major.

At 19-years-old, after winning Stanford’s Male Freshman of the Year award, Tiger Woods took part in his first PGA Tour major; the 1995 Masters. Tiger placed 41st and was the only amateur to make the cut.

The Transition To Professional Golfer

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J.D. Cuban/Allsport
J.D. Cuban/Allsport

At 20-years-old, Tiger Woods became the first golfer in history to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. Before turning pro, he dropped out of Stanford and moved out of California to a state with lower taxes.

Woods began his professional career in style. In August 1996, before he had even swung a club, he had the two largest endorsement contracts in golf signed with Nike and Titleist. He also picked up the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award. Then things really began to pick up.

World Number One

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Sam Greenwood/PGA TOUR Archive
Sam Greenwood/PGA TOUR Archive

In April of 1997, Tiger Woods won his first major event; the U.S. Masters. He was 21 and the youngest player ever to win. By June, Woods had achieved what many thought would take him much longer – he was the number one ranked golfer in the world. It was the fastest time for any player in history to gain the top spot after turning professional.

In 1999, Woods won eight tournaments and the PGA Championship, a feat that hadn’t been achieved for a quarter of a century.

The Greatest Performance in Golf History

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David Cannon /Allsport
David Cannon /Allsport

As the century turned, the legend of Tiger Woods continued to grown. In 2000, he won six consecutive tournaments, something that hadn’t been done since Ben Hogan in 1948. When he won the U.S. Open that year, he broke nine tournament records, with Sports Illustrated calling it “the greatest performance in golf history.”

Woods then took the U.S. Open by an incredible 15 stroke margin and picked up a very cool $800,000 victory check. The next year he became the first golfer ever to hold all four major titles at the same time.

His First Career Slump

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Danny Gohlke/Bongarts/Getty Images
Danny Gohlke/Bongarts/Getty Images

Tiger Woods dominated golf for another year, but by the end of 2002, his numbers were beginning to sag. The next two years brought no majors titles to Woods’ trophy cabinet, and he lost his World Number 1 position to Vijay Singh.

Miraculously, Tiger was back to his winning ways in 2005. He won six PGA Tour events that year and recaptured the Number One slot from Singh before June. As sweet as his refound success was, his personal life would begin to suffer in ways he never expected.

A Huge Personal Loss

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Doug Benc/Getty Images
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Tiger’s golf game was off to a great start in 2006. When tragedy struck. Earl, arguably his biggest supporter, passed away in May. He had been everything to Tiger Woods. His first golf coach, his sports psychologist, his friend, his mentor, and much more.

Tiger took nine weeks off following his father’s passing, and he admitted that he came very close to walking away from the game. When he returned, he looked more resilient then ever, and capped off with six consecutive tour wins.

2008: A Minor Bump In The Road

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ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

By the time 2008 rolled around, 11 years of professional golf began taking a toll on Tiger Woods. He looked as good as ever until April when, when he was forced to undergo knee surgery.

On his return from the surgery, Woods looked to be having real problems getting into his game. After winning the U.S. Open on the final day, his body gave up on him. Tiger announced that his knee surgery had caused severe complications, and he dropped out of the rest of that year’s golf.

Marital Problem Became Public Knowledge

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Part of Woods’ appeal to sponsors wasn’t just his ability to play golf, it was also his clean-cut “all-American” image, which was about to become severely tarnished. In 2004, Tiger Woods married Elin Nordegren. To the outside world looking in, it was the perfect marriage.

In November 2009, The National Enquirer alleged that Woods had been secretly dating nightclub manager Rachel Uchitel. Both Tiger and Rachel strongly denied this claim when it was revealed.

Things Go From Bad to Worse

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Florida Highway Patrol via Getty Images
Florida Highway Patrol via Getty Images

On November 27, 2009, Tiger Woods left his home and went for a drive in a Cadillac Escalade SUV. He barely made it out of his driveway when his car collided with a fire hydrant, a tree, and some of his neighbor’s hedges.

An ambulance was called, and he was treated for facial cuts and was issued a ticket by police for careless driving. Woods issued a statement insisting this was a private matter and withdrew from all tournaments to the end of the year.

A Hard Fall from Grace

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Instagram/Paulina Gretzky
Instagram/Paulina Gretzky

One month after his car crash, LA Weekly ran a piece alleging that they had proof of another affair that Tiger Woods was having. He had no choice but to come clean, releasing a statement admitting to “transgressions” in his marriage. He apologized to everyone involved and he asked for privacy.

A few days later, he announced an indefinite break from playing golf. Following the statement, most of Tiger’s major sponsors ended their contracts. Only Nike staying loyal to him.

An Expensive Time for Tiger and the Sponsors

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Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images
Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images

Tiger Woods may have lost a ton of money in sponsorship deals. It’s estimated that his personal problems cost company shareholders between $5 billion and $12 billion in lost revenues.

Woods entered therapy to clean up his act, and in 2010 announced his return and apologized to everyone again. He also said that he would pick up his clubs for the first time in 2010 at the Masters Tournament. Shortly after the announcement, Woods’ divorce from Elin Nordegren was finalized.

Where Elin Nordegren Is Now

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GVK/HM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
GVK/HM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Today, Woods’ ex-wife Elin Nordegren is dating NFL Player Jordan Cameron.The couple lives together in Florida with their young son Arthur, born October 4, 2019. Cameron also has a 10-year-old son from a previous relationship and Nordegren has her two children that she shares with Woods.

Since her divorce from Woods, Nordegren has also dated billionaire Chris Cline on and off before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in July 2019.

He Was Involved In A Scary Single Vehicle Accident

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Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On February 23, 2021, Tiger Woods was driving around Los Angeles in the early morning when disaster struck. He lost control of his vehicle and it rolled down a hill, come to a stop with extensive damage.

Local firefighters had to use the jaws of life to safely remove Woods from the vehicle. He was then rushed to the hospital to have surgeries on “multiple leg injuries.” None of the injuries are considered life-threatening, but the accident put a major halt to Woods’ most recent professional comeback attempt.

A Poor Start

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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Tiger Woods tied for fourth place in the Masters in 2010, but otherwise failed to win a single professional event that year. He did finish the year as world number two, but slumped to world number seven as 2011 got underway.

Tiger attributed his decline to his old knee injury. In July, however he fired Steve Williams, his long-standing friend and caddy. Steve would express deep shock at being treated like this. Steve’s replacement, Bryon Belt, didn’t achieve the results Tiger expected. By August, Woods had slipped to 58th in the world ranking’s table.

He’s Worth $800 Million

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

As of 2021, Tiger Woods has an estimated net worth of $800 million. With his $2 million earned from winning the Masters, he has totaled nearly $120 million in tournament winnings. The rest of his money has come from sponsorships and investments.

With his near billion dollars in the bank, Woods is tied with author James Patterson for number nine on Forbes annual list. If he was worth just $25 million more, he’s have found himself tied with rapper and entrepreneur Diddy.

Things Could Only Get Better

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Tiger Woods struggled throughout 2012 with his injury, but managed to pick up some tour wins. With wins continuing to pile up, it suddenly looked like Woods might be catch up to the sports winningest golfer; Sam Snead.

The year 2013 was an up and down year for Woods. At the U.S. Masters, Woods took an illegal drop. He was found guilty, but he was not disqualified from the tournament. Things improved when He broke his own record with the fastest four successive victories in PGA events of any golfer in history. This was the second peak of Tiger’s career.

Back Problems and Sporting Injuries

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With his 2013 career peak, 2014 brought a deep valley. Tiger Woods won no majors and dropped out of the Honda Classic due to back pain. He later found himself in a hospital rather than at the Masters due to the need for a microdiscectomy to treat a herniated disc in his spine.

Woods did return to the greens, but his game was clearly impacted by the back problems. He failed to make the cut for the 2014 PGA Championship after a year without a decent showing.

On-Course Failure

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Tiger Woods’ back problems were blamed for his failure to make the cut for both the Open and the U.S. Open tournaments. And even though he qualified for the Masters, he barely tied for 17th. He refused to blame his back, however, and instead admitted he was having hip problems.

He returned to the hospital for another microdiscectomy at the end of 2015. Woods would not play at all in 2016 until December. By March of 2017, he had announced that he would take time off his game as he “did not feel tournament ready.”

The Turning Point

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Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

In May 2017, Tiger Woods hit an all-time low. He was arrested after being found slumped at the wheel of his car. Other golfers supported Tiger, saying he had a bad reaction to prescription medicine.

After taking more time to himself, Tiger Woods came back in a big way in 2018. He finished in second place at the Valspar Championship in Florida. It was his first top-five finish since 2013. He would finish in second again at the Masters, before finally putting on the green jacket again in 2019.

He Wears Red Because Of His Mom

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David Cannon/Getty Images
David Cannon/Getty Images

The reason Tiger Woods loves the color red is because of his mother. She convinced him to start wearing red shirts early, believing it was his power color. Considering all the success he’s had in it, it’s hard to argue with that logic!

When Woods won the 2019 Masters and secured his big career comeback, his shirt was red. We can’t think of a single tournament he’s won wearing a different color. At the end of the day, athletes are incredibly superstitious, so why would Woods even consider wearing another color?

He Was Nicknamed “Urkel” At Stanford

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Rob Kim/Getty Images
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Before dropping out of Stanford, Tiger Woods was quite the bookworm. He was so studious that his classmates began calling him “Urkel,” referencing Steve Urkel from Family Matters. We’re sure it had nothing to do with his decision to drop out.

As you know, just because Woods left Stanford to pursue golf full-time, he remained glued to his books. The nickname might have left him, but his reputation as one of the smartest people around never has!

He Loves Fast Food

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Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Taco Bell
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Taco Bell

While most athletes treat their bodies like temples, Tiger Woods doesn’t. While he’s training we’re sure he sticks to a clean diet and routine schedule, but when he takes a break, he loves fast food.

For one of his Masters’ victory celebrations, Woods reportedly said “no” to more luxurious food in favor of cheeseburgers. He ate nine cheeseburgers! Woods has also admitted in past interviews that his favorite foods are McDonald’s and Taco Bell. There’s just something about that ground beef!

Video Games Were Good For Him

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YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Don’t tell Tiger Woods that video games are bad. He claims that growing up playing them helped him gain control over his hands and fingers. And when you’re holding the golf club ready to swing, nothing is more important than control.

That’s not the only way Woods claims video games helped him, however. He also says that losing at games and having to start over helped him overcome his fears of failure. He must have played a lot of Mario Golf growing up!

He Is Buddhist

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THEODORE LIM/AFP/Getty Images
THEODORE LIM/AFP/Getty Images

Tiger Woods grew up a Buddhist with his mother and father, and still practices today. There was a point in his life where he deviated from his path, and according to him, it coincided with the fall from grace.

Now that Woods is fully committed to Buddhism again, the results have been stunning. His comeback started in 2018 and was completed in 2019. Now the question is his; how long will he stay on top?

He Is Not A Dual Citizen

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Stanley Chou/Getty Images
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

With two parents from completely different countries, it would not be surprising to see Tiger Woods be a dual citizen of Thailand and the United States, but he’s not. His mother’s homeland has even offered him citizenship before.

In Woods’ mind, he is an American as true as they come. Give him a cheeseburger and golf club and he’s a happy man. Give him pad Thai and a golf club and who knows what might happen!

He Modernized Golf

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

When Tiger Woods broke onto the professional golf scene, the sport was stuck in the past. The greatest golfers were starting to get old, and new blood was needed. Woods provided that spark, and brought golf back to the masses.

Oddly enough, Woods might be doing the same thing today. While the sport is stuffed with bright young stars, television ratings have declined every year. Woods’ big win at the Masters turned the tides, providing the PGA with its best ratings in years!

Nike Named A Building After Him

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

If you remember from earlier, Nike was the only sponsor to stick with Tiger Woods during his downfall. The Oregon-based company has made millions, maybe even billions of dollars off Woods’ name. To thank him, they named a building after him.

Of course, a building at Nike headquarters isn’t the only thing Woods’ has had named after him. He has his own line of video games as well as his own personal brand of clothing that he wears on the links.

He Invented The First Golf Watch

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Paul Kane/Getty Images
Paul Kane/Getty Images

Well, not exactly, but close. Before Tiger Woods came swinging, there was no such thing as a golf watch. But if runners and divers get watches, shouldn’t golfers, too? Thanks to his sponsorship deal with Tag Heuer, Woods was able to give golfers what they wanted.

The special watch is able to absorb upwards of 5,000 Gs of force. A golf swing will never come close to producing that much force, making this watch nearly indestructible.

He Was A Billionaire

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Carlos Marino/FilmMagic
Carlos Marino/FilmMagic

While Tiger Woods might not be worth one billion dollars today, he was in 2009. Literally breaking the bank turned Woods into the world’s first billion-dollar athlete and made him the second richest African American in the United States.

With all that money comes a lot of unwanted attention, and Woods knows how to get away from it all. Would it shock you if we told you he owns a private yacht? To emphasize that sometimes he needs space to count his bills, Woods even named it “Privacy.”

His Foundation Helps Inner-City Youth

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Lester Cohen/Getty Images
Lester Cohen/Getty Images

A lot of wealthy people have charities, but how many of those people opened those foundations that same years they became household names. Tiger Woods did; his first year as a professional golfer he started the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The goal of the foundation is to promote athletics within inner cities. And can you guess what sport the foundation focuses on? Unsurprisingly, the Tiger Woods Foundation uses golf as a way to show young people less than stellar situations that there is hope.

The Foundation Isn’t Just About Sports

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Lester Cohen/Getty Images
Lester Cohen/Getty Images

As much as Tiger Woods loves golf, he also loves academics. That’s why the Tiger Woods Foundation provides college access programs as well as athletic enrichment programs. There are learning facilities located on five campuses in the United States.

Not every young person is the same. Where one loves sports and sees it as their future, another might see a more intellectual path. Tiger understands this, and refuses to limit the scope of his foundation, and, in turn, how many lives it could affect.