Realizing there are other left-handed tennis players you can look up to is always comforting. Although right-handed athletes seem to dominate the sports world, this is not the case for many tennis icons.
Players, including Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Jimmy Conners, Martina Navratilova, and countless others, play left-handed, often winning with their skills and speed. Although left-handers comprise approximately 15% of professional tennis players, they’re some of the greatest in the game.
Are you curious as to which tennis players are left-handed? Keep reading as we explore left-handed professional players, as well as their career stats and highlights!
1. Rafael Nadal
Known as the king of clay, Rafael Nadal is a left-handed tennis player who has created a record-breaking legacy for himself. Nadal has won 92 ATP singles titles, including 22 Grand Slam men’s and 36 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles. Moreover, he holds a win-loss ratio of 314-43 (87.96%).
Nadal produces more topspin than any other pro tennis player, owing to his unique “buggy whip” forehand. Rafael Nadal is also one of the more unorthodox players, hitting aggressively while retaining a high margin of error. Thanks to these antics, he’s one of the few tennis players to make over $100 million in prize money after Djokovic and Federer.
2. John McEnroe
The next best left-handed tennis player on our list goes to John McEnroe. Many of us know him as one of the more charming players in the sport and a 7-time grand slam winner.
Besides his angry outbursts on and off the court, McEnroe has played an incredible career in tennis, winning a total of 155 ATP titles, 77 in ATP Tour singles, 77 in men’s doubles, and 1 in mixed doubles. Additionally, he posted the best single-season match record (for a male player) in the Open Era with a win-loss record: 82–3 or 96.5%.
3. Martina Navratilova
As one of the most successful tennis players, it often shocks people to learn Martina Navratilova left-handed. Like the other legends on our list, Martina is left-handed, winning 18 major singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles, and ten major mixed doubles titles, totaling 59 major titles, the most in the Open Era.
On top of that, Martina boasts ranking as the world’s number one player in singles for 332 weeks (second only to Steffi Graf) and a record 237 weeks in doubles. She’s the only tennis player to accomplish this and continues to use her legacy to inspire female and male tennis players worldwide. Additionally, her win-loss ratio sits at 1,442–219 (86.8%).
4. Jimmy Connors
The next left-handed tennis player who makes it to this list is Jimmy Connors. Once crowned the number one tennis player, Connors held the top Association of Tennis Professionals ranking for 160 consecutive weeks from 1974 to 1977 and a career total of 268 weeks. He also boasts three prominent Open Era men’s singles records: 109 titles, 1,557 matches, and 1,274 wins.
One of the most interesting facts about Jimmy Connors is that he did not play in the French Open during his peak years (1974–1978) because he was banned by the event in 1974 due to involvement with World Team Tennis. Even with that being considered, he’s said to have made a whopping $58 million in total earnings. His win-loss ratio also sits at 1,274–282 (82.4%).
5. Rod Laver
Another left-handed tennis player who will go down in history is Rod Laver. Rod has indisputably achieved the world’s number-one professional player for five years, from 1965 to 1969. He’s also won 198 singles titles, the most won by a tennis player in history.
Moreover, Rod Laver won 11 Grand Slam singles and 8 Pro Majors titles. He completed the Grand Slam (winning all four slams in a calendar year) in singles twice in 1962 and 1969. His win-loss ratio sits at 235–77 (75.32%).
6. Monica Seles
Another left-handed tennis player that we’ll mention is Monica Seles. Known as another number-one tennis player who represented Yugoslavia and the United States, Seles won eight major singles titles as a teenager. She’s known as one of the youngest and most prolific tennis players of all time and has opened doors for many female players in the sport.
In 1990, Seles became the youngest-ever French Open champion at 16. However, in 1993, while playing a match, she was the victim of an on-court attack and did not come back to tennis until 1995. Her win-loss ratio is 595-122 (83%).
7. Bob Bryan
The next left-handed tennis player to make the list is Bob Bryan. Known as an American former doubles world number one tennis player, he has won 23 Grand Slam titles: 16 in men’s doubles and 7 in mixed doubles. Additionally, he turned professional in 1998, first achieving the top-ranking doubles player (with his twin brother) in September 2003.
The Bryan twins retired in August 2020 and have since gone on to become motivational speakers and work with various brands. Bob Bryan’s win-loss ratio is 21–40 (34.4% in ATP World Tour and Grand Slam main draw matches and Davis Cup).
8. Thomas Muster
Our final leftie on the list is Thomas Muster, an Austrian former world No. 1 tennis player. He was also one of the world’s leading clay court players in the 1990s, winning the 1995 French Open, and was called “The King of Clay” at his peak. Of course, Nadal holds that title, but it’s not without saying Thomas had it first.
Thomas is among the nine players to win Super 9/ATP Masters Series/ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles on clay, hardcourt, and carpet. His win-loss ratio is 625–273 (69.6%).
What Are The Advantages Of Being A Left-Handed Tennis Player?
One of the significant advantages of being left-handed in tennis is that these players serve in a way that naturally spins the ball in a way that makes returning it near-impossible. These serves often force right-handed players far out wide into a backhand.
Furthermore, left-handed tennis players have a higher success rate on grass and clay than on hard courts, of which Rafael Nadal is a prime example. Lefties tend to thrive in more difficult tennis settings.
Who Is The Best Left-Handed Player (Male and Female)?
The best male left-handed player is Rafael Nadal. With a win-loss ratio of 87.96% and one of the most impressive score sheets in tennis history.
For the best left-handed female tennis player of all time, this title rightfully belongs to Martina Navratilova. She’s got a win-loss ratio of 86.8% and is the only tennis player to hold the number one singles and doubles records for 200+ weeks.
How Many Professional Tennis Players Are Left-Handed?
Currently, left-handed tennis players make up 15% of the sport. Although some of the greatest players fall into this slim percentage, left-handed athletes are the minority in tennis (and sports as a whole). However, left-handed tennis players comprise more of a percentage of tennis than in general, as they total 11% of the population.
Therefore, they are a more significant share of the tennis community.
Is Being Left-Handed An Advantage In Tennis?
Yes, being left-handed in tennis can be an advantage. As we said, lefties create heavy topspin with their forehands and incredibly fast, topspin-heavy serves. These push right-handed players to use their weaker backhand returns, often scoring the left-handed opponent the point.
Another benefit to being left-handed in tennis is that creating these wide-swinging serves from the left side of the court often wins crucial points like breakpoints, game points, and setpoints.
Is There A Disadvantage To Being Left-Handed In Tennis?
Although being left-handed has pros, there are also a few cons. Most notably, left-handed tennis players often can’t return shots from right-handers who can hit crosscourt forehands and down-the-line backhands.
Furthermore, lefties may have trouble returning serves of right-handers when they serve from the ad court and the ball hits the center of the court. So, both left, and right-handed tennis athletes have ways of tripping each other in a match.
Who Are Current Tennis Players That Are Left-Handed?
The current professional tennis players who fall into the left-handed category include Cameron Norrie, Yoshihito Nishioka, Denis Shapovalov, Adrian Mannarino, Ben Shelton, Ugo Humbert, and many others. Although they aren’t the majority, lefties make up quite a bit of current-ranking ATP players.
This article discussed the various left-handed pro tennis players, as well as their career stats and highlights. From greats like Rafael Nadal, Martina Navratilova, and Jimmy Connors to Thomas Muster, there are countless left-handed tennis players to keep an eye on.
Our article on the ten best tennis documentaries might also be worth checking out.