Tomorrow is the final day of the decade, and today we are celebrating with the top athletes from 2010-2019. A number of exceptional athletes missed the cut, with some names that missed the list sprinkled throughout below. The main accomplishments shown for each athlete are from this decade only.
10. Novak Djokovic
*15 total Grand Slams
*6x Australian Open winner (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)
*5x Wimbledon winner (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
*3x U.S. Open winner (2011, 2015, 2018)
*1x French Open winner (2016)
*4x Tour Finals (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Usain Bolt was the closest athlete to just miss the cut, but Novak Djokovic grabs the No. 10 spot. The beginning of the decade was superb for Djokovic, as he went 10-1 against Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal (both of whom also could have been on this list) and won three Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) during the 2011 season. Djokovic also won all three of those tournaments in 2015 before completing a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open the next year.
9. Sidney Crosby
*2x Stanley Cup champion (2016, 2017)
*2x Olympic gold medalist (2010, 2014)
*1x Hart Memorial Trophy (2014)
*2x Ted Lindsay Award (2013, 2014)
*1x Art Ross Trophy (2014)
*2x Maurice Richard Trophy (2010, 2017)
*3x NHL First All-Star Team (2013, 2014, 2016)
Alexander Ovechkin and Patrick Kane both have a case for the best NHL players of the past decade, but Sidney Crosby was able to add back-to-back Stanley Cup titles to his resume, along with a couple of Olympic gold medals. Crosby finishes with the second most points of the decade despite missing a chunk of action from 2010-2012 due to injury.
8. Michael Phelps
*9x Olympic gold medalist (2012, 2016)
*3x Olympic silver medalist (2012, 2016)
*4x FINA World Championship (2011)
*8x Pan Pacific Swimming Championship (2010, 2014)
Michael Phelps was more dominant in the previous decade when he set a bunch of world records as a dominant swimmer, but he added nine more gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, becoming the most decorated Olympian in history, finishing with 23 gold medals for his career.
7. Kawhi Leonard
*2x NBA champion (2014, 2019)
*2x NBA Finals MVP (2014, 2019)
*2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2015, 2016)
*2x All-NBA First team (2016, 2017)
*1x NBA All-Rookie First Team (2012)
Because he doesn’t say much or bring attention to himself, Kawhi Leonard flies far under the radar among the world’s top athletes, but he’s a two-time NBA champion that won it all against two “superteams.” Leonard—an elite defender, which should be taken into account more than it is—was one of the top clutch performers in sports over the past several years, and he basically ended two dynasties with his play. Also, in college at the beginning of the decade, Leonard led his San Diego State team to a 34-3 record and a Sweet 16 appearance (losing to the eventual national champions, UConn) in his final season.
6. LeBron James
*3x NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016)
*1x Olympic gold medalist (2012)
*3x NBA Most Valuable Player (2010, 2012, 2013)
*3x NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016)
*9x All-NBA First team (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
*4x NBA All-Defensive First team (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
The consistency of LeBron James is what has him ranked as the top basketball player of the decade. Jumping around to three different teams—including a Miami Heat superteam—knocks him down a peg among the overall athletes, but there is little question James belongs in the top ten after his prime seasons occurred in the past ten years.
5. Serena Williams
*16 total Grand Slams
*12 Grand Slam singles
*4 Grand Slam doubles
*2x Olympic gold medalist (2012)
*4x Wimbledon winner, singles (2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)
*3x Australian Open winner, singles (2010, 2015, 2017)
*3x U.S. Open winner, singles (2012, 2013, 2014)
*2x French Open winner, singles (2013, 2015)
*2x Wimbledon winner, doubles (2012, 2016)
*1x Australian Open winner, doubles (2010)
*1x French Open winner, doubles (2010)
*3x Tour Finals (2012, 2013, 2014)
Despite playing most of the decade in her 30s, Serena Williams continued to rack up Grand Slam titles in both singles and doubles formats, along with a couple of Olympic gold medals in 2012. Williams’ last major title was in 2017 at the Australian Open, but her supremacy in women’s tennis was clear over the past ten years.
4. Simone Biles
*4x Olympic gold medalist (2016)
*1x Olympic bronze medalist (2016)
*19x World Championships gold (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
*2x Pacific Rim Championships gold (2016)
22 years old and already considered by many as the greatest gymnast ever, Simone Biles has already become the most decorated athlete in her sport in world championship history, taking home an insane 19 golds (25 world medals total) starting in 2013. A member of the “Final Five” at the 2016 Olympics, Biles won four gold medals in Rio, and the transcendent American will look to add to her total in 2020.
3. Carli Lloyd
*2x World Cup champion (2015, 2019)
*1x Olympic gold medalist (2012)
*2x CONCACAF champion (2014, 2018)
*2x FIFA Player of the Year (2015, 2016)
*1x World Cup Golden Ball (2015)
*1x CONCACAF Player of the Year (2015)
*1x. U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (2015)
In the biggest moments, you could count on Carli Lloyd making a big play for the U.S. Women’s National Team like she did in two major titles in 2012 and 2015. In 2012, she scored both goals in the USWNT’s gold medal win over Japan in the Olympics; and the 2015 World Cup was complete domination from Lloyd, who captained the squad and scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the final, including a mind-boggling shot from major distance. Similar to Serena Williams in tennis—while no one would assert the women are better than the men if they competed against each other—many people probably immediately thought of Lloyd instead of Ronaldo or Messi when asked for the best soccer player in the world around 2015. Alex Morgan gets an honorable mention behind Lloyd.
2. Mike Trout
*3x AL MVP (2014, 2016, 2019)
*7x AL Silver Slugger Award (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019)
*2x AL Hank Aaron Award (2014, 2019)
*1x AL Rookie of the Year (2012)
*1x All-MLB First Team (2019)
Some people already regard 28-year-old Mike Trout as the best baseball player in history given the Angels star’s legitimate five-tool ability on the diamond. Built like an NFL running back, Trout’s top-notch athleticism translates into superiority of skill, and the Millville, New Jersey native is remarkably consistent, with a case for American League MVP every season he’s on the field. The only thing missing for Trout from the decade was a championship, but he did numerous things that hadn’t been done before him and had an historic first 1,000 games in the majors.
1. Tom Brady
*3x Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII)
*2x NFL MVP (2010, 2017)
*2x Super Bowl MVP (XLIX, LI)
*2x First-team All-Pro (2010, 2017)
*1x NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2010)
If asked back before the start of this decade, conventional wisdom would say that the previous ten years (three Super Bowls, a 50-touchdown undefeated regular season, etc.) probably would have been Tom Brady’s best. But Brady simply got even better from 2010-2019, reaching uncommon mastery of his job as the quarterback of the New England Patriots. In the decade, Brady went 122-39 in the regular season and 14-6 in the postseason, with five more Super Bowl appearances and three more championships while winning the division every year. At the end of games with a title on the line, it almost feels like a lock that Brady will make the right decisions and lead his team to victory—he had two iconic comeback wins in Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LII, and he was at the top of the sport all decade while not missing any games aside from his sham four-game suspension.