15 Greatest Tennis Coaches of All Time

Tennis coaches can make a huge difference in getting a professional player to the next level. Many players are capable of winning Grand Slams and other major tournaments, but they might need that extra bit of insight to finally break through and show the world what they’re capable of.

Who are the best tennis coaches in the world? This is a look at all of the ones who have had success over the years. Many have worked with Grand Slam winners and picked up a lot of notoriety for pushing all the right buttons.

1. Toni Nadal

  • Coached: Rafael Nadal

The teaching methods of Toni Nadal have resulted in one of the most dominating players in tennis history. When he decided to start coaching his nephew Rafael Nadal, no one knew what to expect. Years later, the former professional soccer player is now a highly sought-after coach in tennis.

Some of his unique approaches to the game include making Nadal play left-handed early on and being very strict about any signs of anger on the court. His nephew is as competitive as they come as a tennis player, but he also keeps his cool and very rarely shows major signs of frustration.

2. Brad Gilbert

  • Coached: Andre Agassi, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Kei Nishikori

Tennis fans now are used to seeing Brad Gilbert on broadcasts as a commentator for ESPN. However, Gilbert spent time coaching several prominent players at the peak of their careers to reach new levels of success.

His relationship with Andre Agassi is perhaps the most notable. Gilbert as a player was never exceptionally gifted, but he was a smart and crafty player who has done a great job of helping players diversify their game a bit.

The author of “Winning Ugly” made a positive impact on several Grand Slam winners. Many have tried to get him back into coaching, but he seems settled as a television personality for now.

3. Mike Estep

  • Coached: Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Jana Novotna, Carling Bassett, Hana Mandlíková

The Texas native had modest success as a professional player, winning two singles titles and seven doubles titles.

However, he would make a much bigger name for himself as the coach of Martina Navratilova in 1983. He also worked with a few other women tennis players who achieved great success, including Jana Novotna and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

He seemed to have a knack for keeping his players as focused as possible. He was right there for Navratilova when she won six straight Wimbledon titles. He was a calming voice in her ear, giving her all the information she needed to turn into the prominent player on tour during that stretch.

4. Bob Brett

  • Coached: Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Marin Cillic

Bob Brett was still coaching up to a few years ago, which is pretty impressive considering his roster of players he helped get over the hump.

Starting with Boris Becker and Goran Ivanišević, he helped out Marin Cilic as his most recent example of a player finally putting it all together for a Grand Slam title.

His recent passing away was a dent in the tennis community. His tennis academy in Italy still lives on, but the tennis world lost a top coach earlier this year.

5. Robert Lansdorp

  • Coached: Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras, Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard.

Only serious tennis fans are aware of Robert Lansdorp and all he has been able to help with as a teacher of the game.

He’s indeed worked with many number one players in the world, including Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, and Tracy Austin. With a focus on helping with groundstrokes, his adaptability to different types of players helps as well.

Still going strong as an instructor into his 80s, people still turn to him to help with developing a Lansdorp forehand. He might not act as the main coach for players, but he still has plenty to offer.

6. Larisa Preobrazhenskaya

  • Coached: Anna Kournikova, Elena Dementieva

This might be the one name that puzzles a lot of fans for making this list. Preobrazhenskaya is one of the main reasons why Russian female tennis players have had so much success in recent memory.

The main face behind the Sparta Club helped players like Anna Kournikova and Elena Dementieva become world-class players. Almost all Russians have spent at least some time learning from her growing up.

7. Harry Hopman

  • Coached: John McEnroe, Ken Rosewall

After having a very successful professional career, Harry Hopman turned into an outstanding tennis coach. He opened up a tennis academy in Florida and helped the likes of John McEnroe reach their full potential.

He was one of the first tennis players to really embrace the importance of having a team of coaches around the best players. His academy helped training step up to another level as well. Even though he passed away in 1985, his legacy lives on as an innovator.

8. Tony Pickard

  • Coached: Stefan Edberg

Tony Pickard’s most prized pupil has already made an appearance on his list. He is the former coach of Stefan Edberg, and he was in his corner for all six of his Grand Slams.

He was known for being a very intense coach who focused on a very tough practice schedule to get everything going in the right direction.

In order for Edberg to reach his full potential, Pickard believed that he needed to eat better, train harder, and focus more on the cerebral part of tennis in general. It ended up working for Edberg and even helped craft him into a quality coach in his own right.

9. Marian Vajda

  • Coached: Novak Djokovic

Some might say that Marian Vajda lucked into coaching when he was able to take on Novak Djokovic way back in 2006.

However, the results are hard to argue with, and it wasn’t like Djokovic was dominating from the very beginning. He’s had to make a few changes to his game overall to get to where he wants to be, and that includes off and on the court.

Vajda gets a lot of credit in particular with helping Djokovic figure out his serve. It was once a week part of his game, but now he’s able to dictate points and shorten the match in general with some freebies. Djokovic remains loyal to his coach through all the years.

10. Richard Williams

  • Coached: Serena Williams, Venus Williams

This list already has a few relatives on it for what they were able to turn their prize pupils into on the tennis court. However, no one was able to have quite the level of success as Richard Williams when looking at a pair of siblings reaching the highest level.

Williams played a major factor in getting both Venus and Serena to the top of the tennis world. He did so by beating the odds, starting out in Compton public courts and getting them the extra coaching they needed to push them over the edge.

Maybe he doesn’t know as much technically as some of the others to make this list, but he had a vision that allowed both to get to the highest level. He knew how to prepare them early on, and he also knew that he needed help to get them to that final step to compete for title after title.

11. Tony Roche

  • Coached: Roger Federer, Lleyon Hewitt, Ivan Lendl, Patrick Rafter

One could argue that Tony Roche is the most talented tennis coach of all time. He is very adaptable as well, figuring out new approaches for each client he takes on.

He spent time with Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, and Ivan Lendl, just to name a few. They all reached number one in the world, but they all had holes in the game that Roche helped to patch up.

As an accomplished player himself, he knows what it takes to survive at the highest level. Maybe that attributes to his approach to coaching, as he can relate to players in a unique way.

12. Stefan Edberg

  • Coached: Roger Federer

Out of all the players-turned-coaches to make this list, Stefan Edberg is in a class of his own. This is one of the best tennis players of all time, evolving into a high-end coach. He was known as a smart tennis player during his playing days, so it shocks few that he evolved into a great coach as well.

Many in the tennis world did not see it coming when Roger Federer signed Edberg in 2013 to be his coach. Even though he acted just as much as a mentor, it helped Federer rejuvenate himself and start winning once again. 

They took a step back and assessed the good and bad of his game, helping Federer evolve into the second half of his post-prime career. They only stayed together for about two years, but Federer has nothing but good things to say about him.

13. Nick Bollettieri

  • Coached: Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Boris Becker

His active coaching days might be behind him, but Nick Bollettieri is still a central part of IMG Academy. He has been running the academy in Florida for quite a while, and plenty of players have come through the system to reach the highest level.

His prized student is Andre Agassi, but players like Boris Becker, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams also spent time at the academy. He has a whole team of coaches helping out future champions, but he still oversees everything.

14. Magnus Norman

  • Coached: Stan Wawrinka, Robin Soderling, Thomas Johansson, Simon Aspelin

At the peak of their powers, it seemed like it would be impossible for any other tennis player to challenge the big four. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray all dominated virtually every single tournament, but along came Stan Wawrinka to crash the party.

The coach behind that transformation? Mangus Norman, a player who got up to number two in the world himself.

He was able to finally give Wawrinka the confidence to play other top players, and he reached the quarterfinals or better pretty consistently during their stint together. If not for Norman, Wawrinka may have never put it all together and win at a Grand Slam.

15. Ivan Lendl

  • Coached: Andy Murray

Ivan Lendl hasn’t spent a ton of time as a tennis coach, and most people are only going to think about him as the former Hall of Fame pro on tour. However, he played a major role in helping Andy Murray develop into a player who will go down as one of the greats.

Murray lost four consecutive Grand Slam finals to start his career, and none of them were particularly close. Lendl, who had his fair share of disappointments in Grand Slam finals as well, stepped in and helped him get over that mental hurdle once and for all.

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