38 Most Successful Athletes of the 21st Century

Print Email

Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

26. Rafael Nadal
> Sport: Tennis
> Championships: 16x Grand Slam, 1x gold medal
> Team or country: Spain
> Career length: 2001-present
> Other accomplishments: 173 weeks as #1

Rafael Nadal is the King of Clay, winning 10 French Open championships, which are played on a clay surface. Despite facing stiff competition from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Nadal holds 16 Grand Slam titles. He’s won each of the four Grand Slam tournaments at least once, and he took home the Olympic gold medal in 2008.

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

27. Ray Lewis
> Sport: Football
> Championships: 2x Super Bowl
> Team or country: Baltimore Ravens
> Career length: 1996-2012
> Other accomplishments: 13x Pro Bowl, 7x All-Pro, 2x Defensive Player of the Year

Ray Lewis established himself as one of the most fearsome defensive players in NFL history, winning two Super Bowls and two Defensive Player of the Year awards as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

28. Richard Seymour
> Sport: Football
> Championships: 3x Super Bowl
> Team or country: New England Patriots
> Career length: 2001-2012
> Other accomplishments: 7x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro

Richard Seymour became a linchpin of the New England Patriots defense as the team won three titles in four years. He was an All-Pro pass rusher during two of those years.

Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

29. Roger Federer
> Sport: Tennis
> Championships: 20x Grand Slam
> Team or country: Switzerland
> Career length: 1998-present
> Other accomplishments: 308 weeks as #1

Roger Federer has staked his claim as the greatest male tennis player of all time. He has won 20 Grand Slam titles and spent over 300 weeks ranked as the No. 1 player in the world — and counting. He is the only man to accomplish either feat.

Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

30. Serena Williams
> Sport: Tennis
> Championships: 23x Grand Slam, 1x gold medal
> Team or country: United States
> Career length: 1997-present
> Other accomplishments: 319 weeks as #1

Serena Williams sits just one title behind Margaret Court for the most singles Grand Slam titles in tennis history, winning all four major tournaments at least three times.