A couple of days into the new century, a teenager from Switzerland managed to win his first Grand Slam. A couple of months thereafter, Tiger Woods burst onto the golfing scene and began to dominate the sport. Just days after that, a doughy, unheralded quarterback was selected as an afterthought during the draft for a faceless franchise that hardly had a footprint in the world of football. A 15-year-old Baltimore swimmer managed to stun the world when he qualified for the Olympics during his first training camp.
With so much talent in the 21st century when it comes to sport, we decided to look back on the last 18 years and provide a list of the greatest athletes in the 21st century.
1. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps was initially in third position on our list but that changed. Phelps went to Rio where he won 5 gold medals and 1 silver and had the 4th best Olympic performance in swimming history. Phelps also won 6 gold medals and 2 bronze medals in 2004, 8 gold medals in 2008, and 7 golds in Munich, This placed him as the greatest athlete in the 21st century with a total of 23 gold medals in his career.
2. Roger Federer
Roger Federer is a professional tennis player from Switzerland and is currently ranked 2nd in the world of tennis. He managed to win 20 Grand Slam titles, which is the most for a male player in the history of the sport and has held the number 1 position in the world for 310 weeks. After starting his career as a professional tennis player in 1998, Federer has ranked in the top 10 from 2002 to 2016. He managed to re-enter the top 10 list after his 2017 victory at the Australian Open.
3. Tiger Woods
As one of the most popular athletes in the 21st century, Tiger Woods is also the highest paid athlete for several years. Woods was only 20 years old when he turned pro in 1996. By April 1997, Woods won 3 PGA Tour events as well as the 1997 Masters. Throughout the 2000’s, Woods dominated the sport of golf, winning the 2000 US Open by a whopping 15-shot margin. Woods was the world’s top-ranked player from 1999 to 2004 and again from 2005 to 2010.
4. Tom Brady
As a quarterback for the New England Patriots, Tom Brady is one of the only players to win 5 Super Bowls and the only football player to win them all while playing for the same team. Tom Brady has also been honoured with 4 Super Bowl MVP’s which is the most any NFL player has received in the history of the sport. He also has 3 League MVP awards, has been selected for a total of 13 Pro Bowls, and managed to lead his team to 15 division titles. After 2017, Brady is ranked 4th in total career passing years, 3rd in career touchdown passes, and 3rd in career passer rating.