name game


Phew! After the monumental flopping of a majority of the Spanish players I had talked up in my pre-Aussie Open blog what a relief it was to see Sam Querrey and John Isner performing so well at Memphis last week following on from my next big American blog.

My thinking has been on great champions once more this week and how they become what they are.

One topic receiving a lot of discussion in my workplace this week is baby names. We were talking about heroes and the naming of your child after them. For example: ITV1’s superb new drama “Married, Single, Other” saw Ralph Little playing a character named ‘Clint’ as his father “loved spaghetti westerns” and I attended university with a girl whose father loved Portsmouth FC so much that he gave his daughter the middle name Pompey (the club’s nickname).

But if your favourite pastime is with a racket and ball what is the best way to ensure your child has what it takes to be the next Federer? Well, name him Roger of course. Or perhaps your daughter a Serena or a Justine? Hmmmmm.

If you read my column regularly (hopefully somebody does) you will know I have a not-so-secret penchant for random facts and trivia. So, looking down the annals of singles play, let us look at the most successful names in tennis history.

By painstakingly counting all the names etched on to Grand Slam singles trophies I have compiled a list of names you should think about for your child if the whole name game does work. See if you can guess what they are before reading on.

Personally, I thought that William or Bill would be most popular after the exploits of Tilden and Johnston etc. But it appears that the name John has appeared on more Grand Slam singles titles than any other thanks in no small part to its Spanish and French variants.

Jean Borotra was one of the four French musketeers playing in the 1920s and 30s and his haul of 1 Aussie Open, 2 French Opens and 2 Wimbledons has been added to over the years by the likes of John McEnroe, Juan Carlos Ferrero and John Newcombe to amass a total of 35 titles.

William/Bill came in second with 26 while Jimmy Connors and the lesser-known Aussie James Anderson among others have helped the James family amass 19 Grand Slam singles titles apiece.

Roger Federer is the only male player to get his name in the list by himself.

In terms of surnames it boils down to the players who have amassed the most titles themselves. So, ladies, better be on the lookout for a Federer or Sampras to marry.

The female names become slightly more interesting. Only 77 different Christian names have been etched on to the four Grand Slam trophies over the course of their history.

Of these, Margaret is the most popular. If you check the female surnames then this is largely down to the 22 Slams picked up by the Aussie Margaret Court. Yet the 2 French Opens, 3 US Opens and Wimbledon title lifted by American Margaret Osborne DuPont also helped greatly.

Helen Wills Moody and Helen Jacobs combined Team America style to help their name towards its total of 27 titles while Hingis and Navratilova made a superb doubles partnership for their moniker, Navratilova amassing 18 of their 23 Slams.

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, could not combine to overhaul the alpha females Steffi Graff or Margaret Court in the battle of the surnames while anybody with the surnames Wills, Moody, Connolly or Brinker will also be hopeful, the latter two courtesy of early dominatrix “Little Mo.”

Of course training, luck, sporting ability etc. etc. are more important in the making of a star but with so many people willing to name their child after their heroes in the modern era we can have a little fun here.

Besides, if you love tennis enough to name your child after your favourite player, who’s to say you aren’t as obsessed with the sport and driven enough to be the next Richard Williams?

Most Popular Male Names:Most Popular Male Surnames:Most Popular Female Names:Most Popular Female Surnames:
John/Jean/Juan/Johan/Jan – 35Federer – 16Margaret/Marguerite – 34Court – 22


Graf – 22

William/Bill – 26Sampras – 14Helene/Helen – 27Williams – 19


Wills Moody – 19

Andre/Andres/Andy-17Emerson – 12Martina – 23Navratilova – 18


Evert – 18

James/Jim/Jimmy – 16
Roger – 16
Laver – 11


Borg – 11

Steffi – 22Lenglen – 12


King – 12

Pete/Petr – 15Doherty – 10Joan/Jean/Billie Jean/Jana – 20


Chris/Christine – 20

Connolly Brinker – 9