The 10 Best French Tennis Players of All-Time

When you think of countries that have produced the top tennis players in the world, the first countries that come to mind include Spain, the United States, and Sweden just to name a few. France doesn’t really get considered as one of the world’s top tennis countries because no men’s singles player has ever reached the number one ranking, but France still has a rich tennis history.

Across the men’s and women’s divisions, French tennis players have left their mark on the sport. All in all, only five countries have won more grand slam titles than French players, with two of those countries within a pair of grand slam wins. Which ones are considered the best the country has ever produced, though? Here are the 10 best French tennis players of all time.

10. Gael Monfils

One of the few active players on the list, Gael Monfils turned pro back in 2004 and was a relative unknown heading into the 2008 French Open. That was wound up winning his section by knocking off 28 seed Ivan Ljubicic in the fourth round. Monfils’s unprecedented run continued into the semifinals after defeating fifth-ranked David Ferrer and gave Roger Federer a run for his money before bowing out after four sets.

Monfils would only get better as time went on and eventually made his way up to number six in the world rankings in 2016. Monfils hasn’t reached a grand slam final but did reach another semifinal in the same year of his highest ranking when he fell to Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open. Now 36 years old, Monfils has earned over $20 million in career winnings.

9. Marion Bartoli

It’s been a while since a French player won a grand slam title, dating back to 2013. That’s where we find our first female entrant on the list, Marion Bartoli. After turning professional in 2000, Bartoli took several years to find success at grand slam tournaments but then turned it on toward the end of the decade. She reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 2009 and followed that up with strong showings at the 2011 French Open and 2012 U.S. Open.

Bartoli finally broke through in 2013 at Wimbledon with a dominating performance. Bartoli didn’t drop a single set during the tournament, defeating Sabine Lisicki in the final. Bartoli retired after that season having reached a peak of number seven in the world rankings and eight career tournament titles.

8. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

2022 marked the final season for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after making his mark as one of the best French tennis players ever. There’s been only one grand slam win for the French men’s division since 1946, and Tsonga almost broke that curse in 2008 at the Australian Open. Ultimately, Tsonga would fall to Novak Djokovic in five sets, and it marked Tsonga’s lone finals appearance.

Still, it was a fine career for Tsonga. As a singles player, Tsonga took home 18 career titles and reached his highest ranking of number five in the world back in 2012. In addition, Tsonga had success as a doubles player with four tournament victories and helped France to win both the Davis Cup and Hopman Cup. Tsonga ranks slightly ahead of Monfils in career earnings, taking home $22.4 million in total winnings.

7. Richard Gasquet

Only a handful of professional players have won at least 580 matches, and among them is Richard Gasquet. Gasquet celebrated two decades as a professional in 2022 and is number five on the active list for match wins. Gasquet had his strongest grand slam showings at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, reaching the semifinals three times combined in those tournaments. It appears that he’ll finish without a grand slam finals appearance, but Gasquet does still have 15 career wins to his name.

Gasquet still remains a member of the world’s top 100 rankings and has earned $19.5 million in career winnings. Gasquet also found success in the doubles side of things, taking home a pair of tournament titles while also holding an undefeated 11-0 record in mixed doubles, winning the 2004 French Open.

6. Caroline Garcia

The youngest player on the list, Caroline Garcia still has plenty of time to make her way up the list of greatest French tennis players. Garcia was only 17 years old when she made her professional debut in 2011. She’s been a mainstay in the world’s top 10 for several years, reaching her highest ranking of number four in late 2018.

Like many of the others from her country, Garcia is searching for her first grand slam title. She’s reached the semifinals once, coming at the 2022 U.S. Open before bowing out to Ons Jabeur in straight sets. The young Garcia has 10 singles titles to her name thus far, as well as seven doubles titles including two titles at the French Open (most recently in 2022 when she teamed up with Kristina Mladenovic).

5. Amelie Mauresmo

Known for her devastating backhand, Amelie Mauresmo is one of just three female French players to win a grand slam since 1967. Mauresmo turned professional in 1993 and reached her peak in the early 2000s. It was then that Mauresmo had strong performances at both the French Open and U.S. Open, including a semifinals run in the latter in 2006.

That same year, Mauresmo would win two grand slam titles, taking home the trophies from the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Mauresmo was the top-ranked female player in the world during this era of her career and retired at the end of the decade. Mauresmo brought home $15 million in career winnings and in 2015 was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

4. Yannick Noah

As alluded to earlier, only one Frenchman has won a grand slam title since 1946, and that honor belongs to Yannick Noah, who took home the 1983 French Open championship. Three years later, Noah would find himself at number three in the ATP world rankings. Since the ranking system was created in 1973, no other Frenchman has been ranked as high as Noah.

Noah is also known for being the father of former NBA star Joakim Noah, showing that athleticism runs in the family. As for the senior, Noah, he would end up winning 23 career titles as a singles player and 16 more in doubles, where he was ranked number one in 1986. A member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Noah retired in 1996 to pursue a successful music career.

3. Henri Cochet

You can’t tell the story of French tennis without mentioning the name Henri Cochet. Born in 1901, the late, great Cochet was the world’s top player for four consecutive years between the late 1920s and early 1930s. During that time, Cochet would dominate at the grand slam tournaments, winning a total of seven, including four French Open titles. At the time, the Australian Open didn’t host many foreign players due to travel, or else Cochet may have retired with more grand slam wins.

Cochet finished his career with one of the highest winning percentages of all time at 78.6% with a record of 684-186. Cochet added five grand slam titles in the doubles field, retiring from the sport at 57 years old. Of course, Cochet would become a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the 1970s.

2. Rene Lacoste

Henri Cochet isn’t the only Frenchman to win a slew of singles grand slam titles without making his way to the Australian Open. Rene Lacoste was the first French tennis legend, having been ranked as the world’s top player for two years before Cochet came along. Lacoste won three French Opens and a pair of Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles each to bring his career total to seven, as well as three grand slam doubles titles.

Lacoste took home 24 singles titles during his career and finished with a better winning percentage than Cochet at 85.9% (262-43). If the last name sounds familiar to the casual tennis fan, it’s because Lacoste was known as “The Crocodile” due to his ruthless play. His clothing line, Lacoste, bears the crocodile logo and is still a staple in tennis wear today.

1. Suzanne Lenglen

A pioneer for women’s tennis, Suzanne Lenglen was the first player to ever be ranked number one in the world, a distinction that she would hold for the first five years of the rankings system. Born in 1899, Lenglen was solid at the French Open with a pair of grand slam titles, but it was Wimbledon where she really shined. Between 1919 and 1925, Lenglen won all but one of the tournaments, with 1924 being the lone exception.

When combining her singles and doubles records as a professional, Lenglen was almost unstoppable with a career mark of 586 wins to just 13 losses. Sadly, Lenglen wouldn’t be able to enjoy a long retirement as a coach, passing away before her 40th birthday. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame posthumously and her mark on tennis is still felt to this day.

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