15 Most Popular Sports Stars in the World Of Recent Times


There have been iconic athletes for as long as professional sports have existed. Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali, David Beckham, and Billie Jean King are just a few of the historical figures whose most famous moments have been immortalized in countless news stories, documentaries, and even movies. However, while those stars have been popular over the last century, we wanted to look at the most popular sports stars right now to see who is piquing our interest the most around the world.

1. Usain Bolt: Track & Field

It’s difficult to overestimate Usain Bolt’s impact on his chosen sport and on capturing the global sporting community’s imagination in a way that hasn’t been seen since Muhammad Ali was at his peak. He began the decade as the undisputed fastest man on the planet, having completed the 100-200m sprint double at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before setting world records in the 100m (9.58 seconds) and 200m (19.19 seconds) the following year, which he still holds. He retired after the 2017 World Championships and briefly considered a professional football career.

Source: Wikipedia

2. LeBron James: Basketball

LeBron James is one of the most popular sports stars in NBA history, having been compared to Michael Jordan and still playing for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 35. His decision to join the Miami Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 sent shockwaves through the league, symbolizing a new era of player power. Returning to a struggling Cavaliers team in 2014 as a hero, James transformed the franchise’s fortunes, leading them to their first professional sports title in 52 years with a victory in the 2015 Finals. Aside from the NBA, James also led the United States to Olympic gold in 2012.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Christiano Ronaldo: Football

Ronaldo’s exploits made him one of the most popular sports stars of the decade, as a goal-scoring machine on the pitch and a social media colossus off it. He’s 34 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. After starting his career with Alex Ferguson’s successful Manchester United team, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for the 2009-10 season for a then-world record fee. Ronaldo joined Juventus last season, and his goals helped the Turin giant win Serie A, giving him championship titles in England, Spain, and Italy — yet another record for a remarkable player.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. Lionel Messi: Football

Messi’s hunger for sporting glory, like that of his archrival Cristiano Ronaldo, shows no signs of waning as the decade draws to a close. Messi won the Ballon d’Or as FIFA World Player of the Year for the sixth time earlier this month, despite the fact that he is 32 years old. Messi, a true one-club man, has led Barcelona to six La Liga titles, two Champions League titles, and five Copa del Rey titles in the last decade. His numbers are almost unbelievable: 521 goals and 191 assists in the last ten seasons. He’s a prolific creator as well as a lethal finisher.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Tiger Woods: Golf

Woods appeared to be a spent force as he slumped outside the top 1,000 in the golf ranking and contemplated retirement, bedeviled by well-documented personal problems at the start of the decade and by crippling injuries for much of it. With a new swing and a renewed commitment to fitness, Woods stormed back in 2018, winning the Tour Championship at East Lake for the first time since 2013, when he won five times on the PGA Tour. It served as a springboard for his stunning victory in the US Masters earlier this year, which was the ultimate comeback story. Woods, who is celebrating his 44th birthday as the new decade begins, has his sights set on Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championships.

Source: Pixabay

6. Serena Williams: Tennis

Serena Williams is one of the all-time most popular sports stars in tennis, having won 23 grand slam singles titles, 16 doubles titles, and four Olympic gold medals, including two at the 2012 London Olympics. She has added 12 grand slam singles titles to her tally in the last decade, fending off a slew of younger challengers. Her most recent grand slam singles title, the Australian Open, came in 2017 when she was several weeks pregnant and beat Venus in a heartbreaking final. She has continued to punch above her weight since her return to the WTA Tour following childbirth, reaching four grand slam finals (but losing them all).

Source: Wikimedia Commons

7. Michael Phelps: Swimming

Michael Phelps is best known for winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The ‘Baltimore Bullet,’ however, did not rest on his laurels after this incredible achievement, which is unlikely to be matched. Phelps continued his gold-medal run for the all-conquering US swim team at the 2012 London Olympics. After the Games, Phelps announced his retirement, later revealing that he had been suffering from mental health issues and had even considered suicide. Phelps was able to overcome his demons by returning to swimming. At the Rio Olympics, he added to his illustrious career by winning five gold medals. With 28 medals, 23 of them gold, he became the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Source: Wikimedia Commons


8. Simone Biles: Gymnastics

Simone Biles is only 22 years old, but she has already raised the bar in her sport. Biles’ first of 19 world championship gold medals came in 2013 when he was just 16 years old. Her dominance is unwavering, as evidenced by her five gold medals at the World Championships in Stuttgart earlier this year. She, like Phelps, has battled personal issues with grit and determination. Biles revealed after her Rio triumph that she takes ADHD medication and was named as one of the most popular sports stars in gymnastics sexually abused by disgraced US team doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving a prison sentence of 40 to 175 years.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

9. Lewis Hamilton: Motorsports

Lewis Hamilton, the first black driver to win a Formula One world championship in 2008, has won five championships in the last six years with the help of his Mercedes team. As hungry for victory as ever, the British ace has won 84 races in Formula One, seven less than Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 victories.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

10. Tom Brady: Rugby

Brady has led the New England Patriots to five Super Bowls since 2010, winning three of them, including the 2019 edition, which he won 13-3 against the Los Angeles Rams. During his illustrious career, the 42-year-old quarterback has won six Super Bowl rings, all with the Patriots. After the Pats’ 34-28 overtime thriller against the Falcons in 2016, he set a number of Super Bowl records, including becoming the oldest player (39) to be named MVP. Brady’s remarkable consistency continues this season, as he leads the Patriots to the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season while passing Peyton Manning for second-most touchdown passes in NFL history, six behind New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

11. Roger Federer: Tennis

Roger Federer is one of the most popular sports stars from Switzerland in the game of Tennis. Federer has spent 310 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings, including a record 237 consecutive weeks, and has five times finished the year as the top player. Federer has 103 ATP singles titles, second only to Jimmy Connors, including 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, an all-time high of eight Wimbledon titles, and six ATP Finals. Federer played in an era when he dominated men’s tennis alongside Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have been dubbed the “Big Three” and are widely regarded as the three greatest tennis players of all time.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

12. Michael Schumacher: Racing

Michael Schumacher is a former Formula One racing driver who raced for Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, and Mercedes. Schumacher has a joint-record seven World Drivers’ Championship titles (tied with Lewis Hamilton), and when he retired in 2012, he held the records for the most wins (91), pole positions (68), and podium finishes (155)—all of which have since been broken by Hamilton—as well as the record for the fastest laps (77).

Source: Wikimedia Commons

13. Virat Kohli: Cricket

Virat Kohli is a former captain of the Indian national cricket team and an international cricketer from India. As a right-handed batsman, he represents Delhi in domestic cricket and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League. Kohli is widely regarded as one of the best batsmen of his generation, and some critics consider him one of the greatest limited-overs batsmen of all time. Kohli captained the Indian cricket team in over 200 matches across all three formats between 2013 and 2022.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

14. Rafael Nadal: Tennis

The Spaniard is the world’s No. 2 tennis player, trailing only Novak Djokovic. In the past, he’s had epic battles with Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray. Nadal has won the French Open 11 times in his career.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

15. Conor McGregor: MMA

Conor Anthony McGregor is a mixed martial artist from Ireland. He is a former featherweight and lightweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He’s also a former featherweight and lightweight champion of the Cage Warriors. He is currently ranked #9 in the UFC lightweight rankings as of July 19, 2021. Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated him in his first professional boxing match. He’s the most popular pay-per-view (PPV) fighter in MMA history, having headlined five of the top six UFC pay-per-view events.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

So, here we are at the end of the list of most popular sports stars. All of these athletes have made remarkable careers for themselves. Read about each one of them and applaud them for their success.

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