Wimbledon 2021 is in full swing, and sportsbooks have constantly been adjusting the odds to win Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal announced that he would not compete at Wimbledon and Naomi Osaka also skipped the tournament. Serena Williams was injured and had to exit early, and Stefanos Tsitsipas was bounced in an early upset.
The grass-courts and rich history can take down players of all calibers and talents. To be a champion, you must bring your best to Centre Court. Winning at the All England Club is almost essential for players who want to be remembered, yet many incredible players have never been able to win a singles title at Wimbledon.
Let’s explore which great players were never able to win the infamous grass-court Grand Slam title. While you are here, be sure to check out the tennis betting for Wimbledon odds and action on all this year’s tennis tournaments.
Some big names in professional tennis did not make our top five list of players without a Wimbledon title, but they deserve honorable mentions. Australian Ken Rosewall won twenty-three Grand Slam titles and was ranked No. 1 in the world for eight different years of his incredible career. Sadly, none of his Grand Slams came from winning Wimbledon men’s singles.
His shutout is due, in part, to the fact that he was barred from entering Wimbledon for many years of his illustrious career. Rosewall turned professional in the late-1950s when Wimbledon was still only for amateurs. Then years later, when the so-called Open Era began, Rosewall had disputes with the tournament and was barred for years as a professional. Despite it all, he ended up making the Wimbledon finals four times in his career, losing twice as an amateur (1954 and 1956) and twice as a professional (1970 and 1974).
Another Australian, Fred Stolle, also deserves to be mentioned on this list. Stolle won seventeen career Grand Slam championships but was never able to win the singles title at Wimbledon. What hurts more, he made the Wimbledon singles final three straight years (1963-1965) and lost all three times.
Our honorable mention list continues with Michael Chang, the American prodigy who won the 1989 French Open and became the youngest male player to win a Grand Slam title. He was just seventeen years old at the time of his victory. The tennis world was Chang’s oyster, but he could never rise to the occasion on grass. In fourteen years of playing Wimbledon, Chang only made it through the third round three times and never made it to a Wimbledon final.
Like many other eligible names on this list, Mark Phillippoussis’ lack of Wimbledon hardware can be tied directly to Roger Federer. Philippoussis was a terrific player, one the most powerful players of his time, but only made the Wimbledon final once. In 2003, the Australian made it to the final match but lost to Federer. Injuries plagued his career after this, and he never made it back to avenge the loss.
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario should also be mentioned, as she won the French Open title three times and the US Open once. She made the Wimbledon final on two occasions and the semifinals on many occasions but could never secure a title. Similar to Philippoussis, she ran into the most dominant player in her field on a regular basis. Vicario had the unfortunate luck of seemingly always facing off with a grass-dominant Steffi Graf in this era.
Belgian player Justine Henin is an obvious pick for this list. Henin was a magnificent player and made the Wimbledon final on two occasions and the semifinals on three occasions (2002, 2003, and 2007). Henin’s losses in the finals came to Venus Williams in 2001 and to Amelie Mauresmo in 2006.
Famous for her one-of-kind elegant single-handed backhand, she was a unique talent and dominated on other surfaces. An incredible clay-court player, Henin won four French Opens, the US Open twice, the Australian Open once, and she topped it all with a Gold Medal at the 2004 Olympics. Most say she just did not have the groundstroke and serve power to win on the Wimbledon grass. This excuse may appeal to some, but she still had a record of 27-7 in all of her Wimbledon matches combined. Henin even came out of retirement in 2010 to try and win a singles title at Wimbledon before retiring from Grand Slam tournaments for good in 2011.
Monica Seles was one of the best players of her generation, winning nine Grand Slam singles titles in her career. Seles had a career record of 43-4 at the Australian Open and won the title four times from 1991-1993 and again in 1996. At the French Open, she had a record of 54-8 and won it three straight times from 1990-1992. Her US Open career record was 53-10, and she won that Grand Slam title two consecutive years, in 1991 and 1992.
Oddly enough, her career record at Wimbledon was also quite good, at 30-9, but she only made the final once (in 1992) and never won the title at the All England Club. In that one final, she lost to Steffi Graf in straight sets in a match that was never a competition. She never won on Centre Court, so she does not have the coveted Career Slam, despite her talent.
For folks who follow tennis closely for years, Ivan Lendl is an obvious name on this list. Czech tennis player Lendl is one of the greatest players of the Open Era. He won a total of eight Grand Slam championships. Sadly none of them were at Wimbledon.
Lendl won two Australian Opens in 1989 and 1990; three straight US Opens from 1985-1987, and three French Opens in 1984, 1986, and 1987. During his career, Lendl spent 270 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world. That number ranks him fifth in the tennis history books, as does his eight-straight US Open finals appearances.
He made a total of nineteen Grand Slam finals, becoming the first men’s singles player to do this, and his eleven runner-up finishes are the same amount as the great Roger Federer. Wimbledon was just never his strongest tournament, and that is saying something considering he made the final in two straight years (1986 -1987) and the semifinal five times (1983, 1984, and three straight from 1988-1990).
His first loss was in the 1986 Wimbledon final to Boris Becker, a worthy opponent who thrived on Centre Court. The second final loss was much more disappointing as he lost to Pat Cash in three straight sets. Cash was not nearly the grass-court player Lendl was, and he was a massive underdog in the tennis sportsbook. As it turned out, the victory would be Cash’s only Grand Slam championship.
Lendl’s critics said he was psyched out by Wimbledon, that he tried to do different things on grass, and never played to his strengths. In 1990, he took the measure of skipping the French Open to have extra time to prepare for Wimbledon. The strategy failed as he lost to Stefan Edberg in the semifinal that year. It appeared that Lendl’s lack of a title might have gotten to his head. Considering his dominance in almost every other environment, Lendl clearly let Wimbledon get the best of him.
Andy Roddick, despite some naysayers, was an incredible professional tennis player and was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 2017, only two years after his 2015 retirement. Roddick was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2003, and he won the US Open title that year. Sadly, Roddick never won Wimbledon (or the French Open or the Australian Open), despite making the final at the All England Club three times, in 2004, 2005, and 2009.
Roddick had an issue, though. Like many other top men’s players at the time, the problem was Swiss icon, Roger Federer. Federer beat Roddick in all three of the Wimbledon finals that the American made. For good measure, Federer beat Roddick in the 2006 US Open final as well. This was Roddick’s closest attempt to winning a second US Open title. His style of play and skill-set worked well on grass courts as he had a strong, powerful serve and a big forehand.
Critics of his game said he relied too much on his serve. That his inability to play at the net and return serve always prevented him from reaching his deserved apex. It might also just be unlucky to have played during Federer’s prime, as he was never really a match for the Swiss phenom. In reality, not many are. Who knows how many Grand Slams titles Roddick would have won if it were not for Federer. He was a special player who never won a title on the most prestigious stage.
Djokovic and beyond
Novak Djokovic has won many titles at Wimbledon. Can he win another? He certainly is the favorite to hold up the 2021 trophy at Centre Court . Can Roger Federer meet him deep in the tournament and find some youthful magic? Do not sleep on Daniil Medvedev, either.
With Serena and Osaka out, the field in the women’s tournament has opened up significantly. The prestige of Wimbledon is always enjoyable and remains one of the highlights of the professional tennis calendar.