Playing tennis professionally is an exciting as it is difficult. Thousands of kids pick up a tennis racquet each year but only a few ever make it to the professional world because it is one of the most demanding and taxing sport to play, both physically and mentally. And despite working extremely hard for years many never make it to the professional level.
But then there are also a few who have not only made it to the top in tennis but were good enough to play another sport at a very high level as well. And that makes them an extremely rare breed of sportspeople, ones to celebrate for their extreme skill and talent.
Here we look at 10 players who excelled in a sport other than tennis as well.
Mary Browne: Grand Slam Winner & Amateur Golfer
Browne was ranked number ten in the rankings when the rankings began back in 1921. The American won three singles Grand Slams and six doubles Grand Slams in her career.
She was the highest-ranked American women’s player back in 1913 as well and later was inducted in the international hall of fame in 1957.
But a little known fact about her is that she also started playing amateur golf towards the later half of her tennis career. She participated in the US Amateur Open in 1924 and ended up being the runner-up to Dorothy Campbell who was the first woman to win the British, American and Canadian Amateur Opens.
Margaret Curtis: US Open Winner in Both Tennis & Golf
Curtis was the 1908 US national championship doubles winner partnering Evelyn Sears. And apart from her excellent tennis skills, the American was also a renowned golf player.
She finished fourth at the US Women’s amateur championship just at the age of 13 before going on to win three US championships and even has an annual tournament dedicated after her and her sister in the state of Massachusets.
She became the only woman to hold the US Open Championships in tennis & golf simultaneously. After the first world war broke out she served for three years in the Red Cross as well. A true all-rounder.
Lottie Dod: Most Versatile Female Athlete acc. to Guinness Book of Records
The five-time Wimbledon champion was renowned as one of the first players to adapt “hitting on the up” technique widely used by modern players.
Apart from playing women’s singles and doubles tournaments, she regularly played and won matches against male players as well. And her sporting genius was not only limited to tennis.
She also represented England in field hockey and scored two goals for them. Dod also won the British Ladies Amateur Championship in Golf.
And then she also won a silver medal at 1908 summer Olympics in Archery. To go with all of that, she was a renowned skater and mountaineer as well, sports that she followed during winter months each year.
Now wonder then Dod was named the most versatile female athlete of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Althea Gibson: Won a Grand Slam & Competed on WPGA
Winner of 11 Grand Slam across singles and doubles categories, Gibson was the first ever African American to do so.
She was so good, she was described by Bob Ryland, the former coach of Serna and Venus Williams as someone who could easily beat his the Williams sisters in her day.
In 1957, she was the number one women’s singles player in the world having had to fight every step on the way to break social stigma as a player of colour.
Despite fighting racial discrimination time and again she rose to become the world number 26 player in women’s professional golf. She was one of the top 50 players in terms of prize money won in the game for five years running.
Ellsworth Vines: A Top Player in Tennis and Golf
Winner of ten Grand Slams across singles and doubles format, Ellsworth Vines was an American player who went on to be the number one ranked player across tennis between 1934 to 1938.
His total earning back in the 1930s was believed to be close to a whopping USD 185,000.
And apart from his success on the tennis courts, he was also a very successful professional golfer. He won two tournaments and finished in semifinals positions in the 1951 PGA Championships. He was also twice named in the top players when it came to prize money earnings in golf.
Fred Perry: British Tennis Legend & World Table Tennis Medal Winner
Perry was the winner of 14 Grand Slams across different categories to go with two pro championship titles.
He is considered to be the first player to have won a “career grand slam” back in 1935. He later moved to the US and became a naturalised citizen there. After long been unrecognised in British sport, a bronze statue of Perry was installed at Wimbledon in 1984.
He also played for Britain in the 1928 Stockholm championships and 1929 Budapest Open in table tennis. He won one gold, one silver and four bronze medals across various categories. Perry was also the only tennis player to have been listed in the “Best of the Best” British sportsmen of the 20th century.
Jarkko Nieminen: Finnish Tennis Genius and Floorball Professional
Nieminen is most famously known to the tennis fans as the winner of the shortest ever Master’s tennis match ever. His 28-minute win over Bernard Tomic in 2014 holds this record.
He won two ATP titles in his career, won over 400 matches and reached as high as 13 in the world rankings. He also reached three grand slam quarterfinals in his career. Nieminen later went on to join SC Classic in Finland as a Floorball player. A sport is similar to field hockey.
Ash Barty: French Open Champion (for now!) & Cricketer in BBL
Barty is an active Australian tennis player who has won the French Open and was the world number one in 2019.
Known for her all-surface game, she has a very crafty style of play despite being a relatively short player in terms of tennis. She has won eight singles and ten doubles titles during her career so far.
She decided to take a break from tennis in 2014 and grew interested in cricket. Having never played the game at any competitive level, she eventually signed for Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League and played in the inaugural season before returning to tennis in 2016.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov: Olympics Gold Medalist in Tennis, Professional Golfer and Poker Player
Kafelnikov was a Russian player who was briefly ranked number one in the rankings back in 1999. He won over 600 matches during his career and went on to win four Grand Slams across various categories. He won the gold medal in the Summer Olympics in 2000 and also won the Davis Cup in 2002.
The Russian also played on the European Tour as a professional golfer from 2005 to 2014 as well as participated in 2005 World Series Poker, which is considered to be a minor sport.
Gael Monfils: French Tennis Star and a Junior Athletics Prodigy
Monfils has won close to 500 matches and ten ATP titles during his career. He was as high as world number six back in 2016 and is considered to be one of the best athletes on the tour even now at the age of 33.
Apart from tennis he also loved track and field during his school days. He won the French National 100 meter events in the under-13 and under-14 categories. His coach went on record to say that had he not chosen tennis as his profession, he could have gone on to compete in the Olympics 100 meters finals.