These players are known widely for winning numerous tournaments during their long career.

Tennis is not an easy game to play. The professional players go through rigorous training from an early age. On top of that there are a lot of sacrifices that a player has to make just like in any other sport. Practicing for long hours, limited social time and staying away from family are some important factors that help in shaping a player. Injuries too are part and parcel of the game.

Playing on hard, concrete based surfaces takes a toll on the body. It causes serious injuries even leading to forced retirements. There has been considerable improvement in medical support and racquets technology which has extended players’ careers. However, the shelf life of tennis players remains limited.

According to statistics, the average age of retirement for tennis players is 27. Even then the age of 30 is considered the barrier which most tennis players usually fail to climb.

Despite that, the world of tennis has been witness to such oddities who have refuted that theory completely. These athletes have truly stood the test of time. Here are the five oldest players ever to retire from the game.

5. Jimmy Connors (43)

Jimmy Connors ended his tennis career at the ripe age of 43. Connors who had turned professional in 1972 played his last game in April 1996. The match was his last on the ATP circuit and ended in a loss for Connors. Known widely for being vocal on the court, the American had a career that lasted for over two decades.

Connors was always seen getting into a spat with his opponents, tennis officials and even the fans. Despite of all his antics and questionable behaviour, his quality of play was above all else. His long career saw him accumulating 109 titles to his name which is an Open Era record. Moreover, he amassed a staggering 125 tournaments win throughout his illustrious career. Jimmy also held the No. 1 ranking between 1974-1978.

4. John McEnroe (46)

McEnroe won numerous trophies in his career (courtesy-tennis smash)

If Jimmy Connors is on the list, how can his arch nemesis be far behind. John McEnroe is another player who holds a record for being one of the oldest players to retire from tennis. McEnroe announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 46. Though he had already retired as a singles player by 1992, McEnroe returned to tennis as doubles and mixed doubles player.

Despite being regarded as one of the most controversial players on the court, his tennis skills were next to none. His skills helped him win 77 singles and 72 doubles titles.

After retirement, John returned to tennis as a mixed doubles partner to Graf in 1999. He again returned to tennis in 2006 to participate in an ATP doubles tournament. Coincidentally he also won that tournament teaming up with Jonas Bjorkman.

3. Kimiko Date (47)

Japanese star Kimiko Date has probably the most interesting tennis story of all. Date quit tennis at the top of her game. She was the fourth seed in the world and just 25 years old when she called it a day. However, after 12 years in April 2008, she surprisingly announced her return to the courts.

Date turned pro right after her graduation. Her achievements included a record four-times win of the Japan Open. Moreover, she was also a semi-finalist of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. On top of that, she was the first Japanese tennis player to make it to the top 10.

Date’s most notable result after returning was at the 2014 US Open. She reached the semi-finals in that event teaming up with Barbora Strycova. She eventually had to say goodbye to the sport because of health reasons at 47 years of age.

2. Younes El Aynaoui (47)

El Aynaoui played for many years (courtesy- tennisworldusa)

One of the biggest tennis stars from Morocco, Younes El Aynaoui retired from the sport at 47 years. El Aynaoui, who turned professional in 1990 went out strong even at the dusk of his career. With complete disregard for his own age, Younes won an IFT match against a 23-year-old Bernd Kossler in 2017. The victory made sure that Younes became the oldest player to have an ATP ranking.

Despite his overall success, Younes is still well known for his classic quarter-final match in 2003 against Andy Roddick. The Australian Open match is considered as one of the greatest quarterfinals ever. It was also the fifth longest set at that time.

1. Martina Navratilova (49)

Navratilova is considered as one of the greatest players the sport has seen. She had won a staggering 167 singles and 177 doubles tournaments. Added to that, Navratilova was ranked inside the WTA top-10 from 1975 until her singles retirement in 1994.

Navratilova’s tennis career lasted more than three decades. Starting from 1975 to 2006, Martina enjoyed an eventful and decorated career. Just a month shy of her 50th birthday in 2006, she won the US Open mixed title. Navratilova teamed up with doubles specialist Bob Bryan to win the match in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 against the Czech pair of Kveta Peschke and Martin Damm. The victory made her the oldest tennis player in history to win a major title.

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