France is not only known for the Effiel Tower, the Louvre, fashion, and delicacies; it is also the birthplace of some of the greatest and most well-known tennis players.
Men and women, the tennis world has seen some of the most skilled and talented French players over the years.
These players, whether new or old, have made significant contributions to the country’s tennis history. Furthermore, they serve as role models for the next generation of tennis players.
Gaël Monfils at the 2009 US Open 12
As a result, we decided to compile a list of some of these famous and celebrated players who brought glory to their country.
As a result, we have compiled a list of some of the greatest French tennis players to date.
The Top 12 French Tennis Players
The list was compiled with the assistance of several reliable internet sources, including Ranker.com and Patheon.world. But, before we get into the specifics, take a look at the table below.
|12. Alizé Cornet
|11. Nicholas Mahut
|10. Kristina Mladenovic
|9. Gilles Simon
|8. Mary Pierce
|7. Richard Gasquet
|6. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
|5. Gaël Monfils
|4. Amélie Mauresmo
|3. Yannick Noah
|2. Suzanne Lenglen
|1. René Lacoste
12. Cornet, Alizé
We’ll begin with Alizé Cornet, the current No. 1 French singles tennis player. She made her Grand Slam singles debut in the 2005 French Open, having been born on January 22, 1990.
Cornet competed in the junior division before turning professional. She also has a career-high combined junior ranking of No. 8 in the world.
She won her first Grand Slam junior singles title at the 2007 French Open. Cornet achieved her highest WTA singles ranking of No. 11 in 2009.
Then, in 2014, she had her biggest career highlight. She defeated then-world No. 1 Serena Williams not once, but three times.
At the Dubai Championships, Cornet defeated Williams in the first round. Her second victory came in July, at Wimbledon, and later in Wuhan.
Similarly, she is the third person on the list with 60 consecutive Grand Slam appearances. Cornet has also reached the quarterfinals of the 2022 Australian Open, advancing to the second week of each Grand Slam event.
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11. Nicolas Mahut
40-year-old man Nicholas Mahut is a former world No. 1 doubles player from France. He began training at the Beaucouzé tennis club at the age of five, and at the age of eleven, he joined a tennis club in Paris.
Mahut won the Orange Bowl in 1999 and the Wimbledon Boys’ Singles in 2000 while still in his junior years. He turned professional the same year he won his junior Wimbledon after a successful junior career.
His highest singles ranking since beginning his professional career is world No. 14. Similarly, he is well-known for his participation in the longest professional tennis match in history.
His career highs in doubles are world No. 1 and 6. He is known as one of the most prolific doubles players. Mahut is also a five-time Grand Slam doubles champion. Aside from that, he has seven Master 1000 doubles titles to his name.
He won his first ATP singles title in 2013, and the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships the following July. Similarly, his best singles Wimbledon Championships performance came in 2016, when he reached the fourth round.
10. Kristina Mladenovic
Kristina Mladenovic is the next player on our list of famous French tennis players. She is a 29-year-old professional tennis player and former world No. 1 in doubles.
Mladenovic began her tennis career in the juniors. She made her junior debut in 2006 and won the European Under-14 singles championship the following year.
She also won her biggest junior title at the French Open girls’ singles in 2009. Mladenovic turned professional the same year, making her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open.
The majority of her major accomplishments are in doubles. Her singles accomplishments include two Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances at the US Open in 2015 and the French Open in 2017.
Similarly, her doubles accomplishments include Wimbledon and Australian Open mix doubles titles with Daniel Nestor in 2013 and 2014, as well as women’s doubles titles with Caroline Garcia at the 2016 French Open.
Mladenovic and Timea Babos have won several titles together, including the 2018 Australian Open, the 2019 and 2020 French Opens, and the 2020 Australian Open. She recently won the 2022 Australian Open mixed doubles with Ivan Dodig.
9. Gilles Simon
Gilles Simon, 37, is the next French tennis player. He is a professional tennis player who currently holds the world No. 6 ATP singles ranking.
Simon began playing tennis at the age of six, with the help of his parents, and began his professional career in the summer of 2002. Before going international, he competed in several Futures tournaments in his first year.
Then, in 2005, he made his Grand Slam debut at the French Open. However, in the first round, he was defeated in four sets by Olivier Patience. Following that, he went on to play a variety of titles.
Simon has won 14 ATP Tour singles titles in total. In 2007, he won his first ATP title at the Open 13 in his home country. Defeating world No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the French Open was one of his career highlights.
Simon rose to No. 6 in 2009 and won the French mixed doubles title at the Hopman Cup with Alizé Cornet. Then he went on to compete as the sixth seed in the 2009 Australian Open.
He won two ATP matches in a row and reached an ATP quarterfinal for the first time in a year at the 2021 Kremlin Cup.
8. Mary Pierce
Mary Pierce, a former tennis player, is up next on our list. She was born to an American father and a French mother in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a citizen of all three countries.
Pierce, now 47, has represented France in international competitions and the Olympics. Pierce began playing tennis at the age of ten, and by the age of twelve, she had risen to No. 2 in the country in her age group.
Pierce made her professional debut at the age of 14. Her aggressive style and ball-striking ability quickly earned her a reputation as one of the most powerful hitters among female tennis players.
She won her first WTA Tour singles tournament in 1991, defeating Sandra Cecchini in the finals in Palermo. During her professional career, she won four Grand Slams: two for singles, one for doubles, and one for mixed doubles.
Pierce won 18 singles titles and 10 doubles titles on the WTA Tour before retiring. Similarly, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2019.
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7. Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet, 36, is a professional tennis player who was born Richard Gabriel Cyr Gasquet. He began playing tennis at the age of 12 in 1999, in a junior match.
On September 9, 2002, Gasquet was ranked world No. 1 in his junior career. In the same year, he won the Junior French Open and the Junior US Open. Gasquet also advanced to the Australian Open semifinals.
In the same year, he made his ATP Tour debut at the Tennis Masters Series tournament. At the age of 15, Gasquet was the tournament’s youngest qualifier.
Similarly, he made his Grand Slam tournament debut at the French Open the same year. He was also the tournament’s second-youngest player to compete in the main draw.
Gasquet, who is known for his elegant groundstrokes and one-handed stroke, reached his career-high ATP singles ranking of world No. 7 in 2007. He has 15 ATP Tour singles titles to his name.
In 2012, he and his partner Julien Benneteau won a bronze medal in the men’s doubles Olympic competition. In 2021, Gasquet will be the sixth active player to win 550 matches on the ATP Tour.
6. Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is ranked sixth among famous French tennis players. He is a 37-year-old professional tennis player who began his career as a junior player.
In the year 2000, he made his junior debut in the Netherlands. Following that, he had a very successful junior career, winning the US Open boys singles title in 2003. Tsonga reached world No. 2 the same year.
The following year, he turned pro and won three singles qualifying matches at the China Open. Tsonga, on the other hand, made an impression on the tennis world at the 2008 Australian Open.
He reached the finals as an unseeded player, defeating four seeded players and then No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. Tsonga has since gone on to compete in major tournaments and win several titles.
Tsonga set a career high in ATP singles in 2012, ranking fifth in the world. The same year, he and his partner Michal Llodra won an Olympic silver medal, finishing second in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
5. Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils, France’s current top-ranked player, is the next most well-known French tennis player. Monfils, 35, began his tennis career at the age of 15 in a junior match in 2002.
He competed in his first junior match at a grade 4 tournament in Sweden. In 2004, he was ranked first in the world as a junior.
Similarly, Monfils won the boys’ singles titles at the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon the same year. He was also crowned International Tennis Federation youth world champion.
Monfils made his pro debut in 2004 at the age of 17 after a successful junior career. He made his ATP debut at the 2004 Open de Moselle after receiving a wildcard.
He then won his first ATP title in 2005. In addition, he was named the ATP Newcomer of the Year. Similarly, Monfils reached a career high of world No. 6 in 2016.
His professional accomplishments include reaching two major semifinals and three ATP Masters 1000 finals. Similarly, Monfils has won eleven ATP Tour singles titles and finished second twenty-two times.
4. Amélie Mauresmo
Amélie Mauresmo is a former professional tennis player who reached the world No. 1 ranking. She began her tennis career as a junior after being born on July 5, 1979.
Mauresmo had a successful junior playing career, known for her powerful one-handed backhand and strong net play. In 1996, she won junior French Open and Wimbledon women’s singles titles.
Similarly, the International Tennis Federation named her the 1996 Junior World Champion the same year. Mauresmo became the second Frenchwoman to reach the Australian Open final after reaching the tournament in 1999.
Similarly, she became only the third Frenchwoman to reach a Grand Slam final during the Open Era. Mauresmo came out as gay to the international press when he was 19 years old.
At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, she won a silver medal in singles. Among his other notable accomplishments are two Grand Slam singles titles at the Australia Open and Wimbledon.
Mauresmo announced her retirement from professional tennis in 2009. She was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2015.
3. Yannick Noah
Our list of famous French tennis players has come to an end. Yannick Noah, a former professional tennis player, is our number three. Noah, who was born on May 18, 1960, is also a singer.
When Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell discovered him at the age of 11, he made his tennis debut. Noah then went professional in 1977.
Similarly, he won his first top-level singles titles in Manila after a year as a pro. Noah then rose to prominence in French tennis when he won the French Open for the first time in 37 years in 1983.
Noah worked professionally for nearly two decades. During his professional career, he won 23 singles titles and 16 doubles titles. Similarly, he reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 3 in 1986.
Noah went on to become the world’s No. 1 doubles player. He left his professional career in 1996. He is currently the captain of France’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams.
2. Suzanne Lenglen
Suzanne Lenglen, born on May 24, 1899, was a French tennis player and tennis revolutionary. She is regarded as the first female athlete to achieve global sports celebrity status.
Wimbledon relocated to a larger modern-day venue due to Lenglen’s popularity. Furthermore, she laid the groundwork for the men’s professional tours that continued until the Open-Era.
Lenglen began playing tennis at the age of 11 and was dubbed “La Divine” by the French press. After winning the 1914 World Hard Court Championship at the age of 15, she became the youngest major champion in history.
Lenglen won her first Wimbledon title in 1919, as well as the second-longest final in history. She was the first woman to incorporate aggressive men’s tennis styles into women’s games.
Her playing style made her popular among sports fans. She was also known for her signature bandeau headwear and for incorporating fashion into her matches.
Suzanne Lenglen was regarded as the greatest amateur women’s tennis player. Unfortunately, this national heroine died on July 4, 1938, at the age of 39. She was, however, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame posthumously in 1978.
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1. René Lacoste
We have ranked first among famous French tennis players. René Lacoste is our top French tennis player. Lactose, nicknamed “the crocodile,” was born on July 2, 1904.
Along with Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, and Henri Cochet, Lacoste was a member of The Four Musketeers. From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, the French star tennis players dominated the game.
Lactose began his tennis career at the age of 15 and made his Grand Slam tournament debut at the 1922 Wimbledon Championships. However, he was defeated in the first round by Pat O’Hara Wood.
Lactose made his debut in 1925, winning singles titles at the French Championships and Wimbledon. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles during his career.
Lactose was the world’s No. 1 tennis player in 1926 and 1927. He also won a bronze medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics. He is also the inventor of the Lactose tennis shirt.
Lactose, an eminent baseline player and tactician of the pre-war period, died on October 12, 1996, at the age of 92.
This brings us to the end of our list of the 12 Most Famous French Tennis Players. Some of these players have made significant contributions to the sport. They paved the way for the next generation of tennis players to follow in their footsteps.