Tall tennis players seem to have the advantage. This has been reported by CNN and other sources, which is unsurprising because the average height of the top tennis players speaks for itself. With that said, height isn’t an absolute advantage in this sport.
There are plenty of shorter individuals who play tennis on a professional level. Moreover, some of them have done very well for themselves. Here are 10 of the most successful short tennis players to ever play as professionals:
10. Misaki Doi – 5 Feet 3 Inches
Misaki Doi was born in Oamishirasato. That is in Chiba Prefecture, thus making it a part of Greater Tokyo. Doi started playing tennis when she was six, followed by her turning pro when she was 15. Subsequently, the left-hander has proven to be very good at her chosen sport. She has never won a Grand Slam title, but she has competed for Grand Slam singles and doubles titles on numerous occasions. Doi has claimed close to $4 million in prize money. A number that says much about her successes.
9. Diego Schwartzman – 5 Feet 7 Inches
Diego Schwartzman is a clay court specialist with a reputation for a solid return game. He peaked at the #8 singles position in October 2020. Schwartzman’s height made his performances at the 2017 U.S. Open and the 2020 French Open more notable than they would have been under different circumstances.
The first made him the shortest male tennis player to become a Grand Slam quarterfinalist since Jaime Yzaga in 1994. Similarly, the second made him the shortest male tennis player to become a Grand Slam semifinalist since Harold Solomon in 1980. So far, Schwartzman has claimed close to $13 million in prize money. Chances are good that number will continue to rise.
8. Amanda Coetzer – 5 Feet 2 Inches
Amanda Coetzer was a professional tennis player from 1988 to 2004. She isn’t that short when compared with the average woman. However, tall and short are relative rather than absolute descriptors.
As such, Coetzer earned a reputation as the Little Assassin by repeatedly beating higher-ranked tennis players, which says much about how other people perceived her. She never won a Grand Slam title. Despite that, she peaked at the #3 singles position. Furthermore, she claimed more than $5.5 million in prize money.
7. Michael Russell – 5 Feet 8 Inches
Michael Russell went pro in 1998 before retiring in 2015. He stood shorter than most of his counterparts. With that said, he was also unusual because he had already earned a college degree by the time he was playing as a professional.
Russell is often remembered because he had a two-set lead on a Grand Slam champion in a Grand Slam tournament before losing on not one but two separate occasions. Still, he did earn more than $2 million in prize money. Moreover, Russell has since gone on to become a successful tennis coach.
Carla Suarez Navarro has reached the quarterfinals of three of the four Grand Slam tournaments on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, she has never managed to break past that point. Still, Navarro’s close to $12 million in prize money makes it clear just how competitive she has been.
That isn’t even mentioning how she peaked at the #6 singles position and the #11 doubles position. Navarro received a cancer diagnosis in September 2020. Fortunately, People reported her stating her case of Hodgkin lymphoma was in complete remission in April 2021.
5. Olivier Rochus – 5 Feet 6 Inches
Olivier Rochus is retired now. However, he was a professional tennis player from 1999 to 2014. Moreover, interested individuals should have no problem guessing that he was formidable at his chosen sport. For proof, look no further than the fact Rochus participated in the competition for five Grand Slam singles titles and eight Grand Slam doubles titles.
He never claimed a Grand Slam singles title, but he did win the 2004 French Open doubles title. With that said, his prize money was relatively modest by this list’s standards at $4.8 million.
4. Sara Errani – 5 Feet 5 Inches
Sara Errani was once #5 on the singles rankings and #1 on the doubles rankings. Famously, she had her breakthrough season in 2012. That was when she reached the singles quarterfinals and the doubles finals at the Australia Open. Subsequently, she reached both the singles finals and the doubles finals at the French Open before winning the latter.
She then won the doubles at the 2012 U.S. Open, the doubles at the 2013 and 2014 Australian Open, and the doubles at the 2014 Wimbledon Women’s. As such, Errani is part of one of the very few pairs to claim a Career Grand Slam, thus proving her status as a top contender beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is no coincidence that she has earned $13.7 million in prize money.
3. David Ferrer – 5 Feet 9 Inches
David Ferrer has never won a Grand Slam title. Despite that, he is a formidable contender, so much so that he has won more matches on the ATP Tour without winning a major title than anyone else. As such, it is a widespread opinion that he is one of the best tennis players who has never won a Grand Slam title.
Certainly, Ferrer’s more than $31 million in prize money supports the idea, particularly since that makes him one of the highest-earning male tennis players of all time.
2. Dominika Cibulkova – 5 Feet 3 Inches
Dominika Cibulkova made a strong impression by winning the 2016 WTA Finals on her debut at the tournament. That put her in the exceptional company of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Petra Kvitova.
Besides that, she became the first female Slovak to reach a Grand Slam finals, though she didn’t manage to win the 2014 Australian Open. Combined with her other victories, Cibulkova is more than deserving of her $13.7 million in prize money.
1. Rod Laver – 5 Feet 8 Inches
Rod Laver is one of the all-time greats of tennis. It isn’t uncommon to see Bleacher Report and other sources claim that he remains the greatest male tennis player even though he retired in 1979. Their reasoning is simple but persuasive.
He won a Grand Slam before the Open Era and a second Grand Slam during the Open Era, which makes him the one male tennis player to have managed the feat during the Open Era. On top of that, Laver won 200 career titles. Something that remains unsurpassed in modern times.
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