Tennis players start young—as young as six years old.
Some players, however, chose to play while they can. Did you know that the oldest tennis player is aged 71 years old? She is Gail Falkenberg, who still plays at lower level pro tennis matches.
It looks like Roger Federer is heading towards this path too.
Nonetheless, here are the oldest tennis players while still active.
1) Martina Navratilova (49 years)
Navratilova played until she was 49 years old before retiring in 2006. She became a pro in 1975.
She was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame because of her achievements. She has won 167 singles titles, 177 doubles title, and a total of 2,189 matches.
2) Younes El Aynaoui (47 years)
El Aynaoui played tennis until he was 47 years old. He started playing as a professional in 1990 and retired in 2018.
In 2017, El Aynaoui won a match against Bernd Kossler, who was 23 years old then. He was the oldest player to have an ATP ranking.
However, it was his 2003 Australian Open quarterfinals match against Andy Roddick that made him a standout. It was the fifth-longest Grand Slam match. He reached his highest career ranking at No. 13.
El Aynaoui has five titles.
3) Billie Jean King (47 years)
King started playing professionally in 1968 before retiring in 1990 when she was already 47 years old.
In 1973, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). It was the same year when she first lobbied for equal prize money between male and female tennis players. King was the first woman to earn $100,000 prize money.
She was also the other half of the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match.
She was named Sportsperson of the Year and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1987.
King has a total of 168 titles.
4) Kimiko Date (47 years)
Date played professional tennis for almost three decades (1989-2017). She was 47 years old when she retired. She last played at Japan Women’s Open in 2017.
It was in 1994 when she won her first NSW Open in Sydney, Australia. Because of this, she became the first Japanese player to obtain a WTA ranking at No. 9.
Date has 22 titles.
5) John McEnroe (46 years)
McEnroe is legendary for his tantrums, but he is more than that. He was dubbed an artist when holding a racquet. His plays are passionate and intense.
He was one of the players who ranked No. 1 at both the men’s singles and doubles division.
His famous rivalries are against Björn Borg and Jimmy Connors.
He played from 1957 to 1980 and won a total of 155 titles.
McEnroe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
6) Ken Rosewall (46 years)
Rosewall retired in 1980 with a total of 133 career titles.
He has many records under his name. For instance, Rosewall was the oldest major tournament winner when he was 37 years old. It was during the 1972 Australian Open.
Interestingly, Rosewall was also the youngest Australian Open champion. He won the title in 1953 when she was only 18 years old.