Best Table Tennis Player – Players You Never Knew Before

Best Table Tennis Player

Table tennis, also known as ping-pong and whiff-whaff, is a popular sport played by millions of people around the world. In this game, two or four players use small solid rackets to hit a ping-pong ball back and forth across a table.

Despite its popularity, competitive table tennis is dominated by a select few countries, with China leading the way in terms of world rankings and medal counts. However, the sport has produced many legendary players over the years who have amazed fans with their exceptional skills and accomplishments.

While ranking the best table tennis players of all time is a highly subjective task, we have compiled a list based on factors such as their performance, achievements, and world rankings. This list includes players who have left an indelible mark on the sport and are widely regarded as some of the greatest players to ever pick up a paddle.

Recently, the WTT Contender Durban 2023 tournament was held in South Africa, showcasing the continued popularity and growth of the sport. With an estimated 300 million people playing table tennis in schools, clubs, and sports centers, the future of the game looks bright.

Greatest Table Tennis Player of All Time

Here is the list of the greatest table tennis players of all time:


Table Tennis Players



Ma Long



Jan Ove-Waldner



Liu Guoliang



Deng YaPing



Wang Liqin



Kong Linghui



Zhang Jike



Wang Hao



Wang Nan



Xu Xing



1. Ma Long (Chinese)

Ma Long, a prominent figure in the world of table tennis, holds the top spot on our list of best table tennis players. He is a Chinese player who has been dominating the sport for several years now, and has achieved a remarkable record of winning numerous major titles, surpassing even the achievements of other legendary players like Waldner.

Ma Long’s illustrious career boasts an impressive list of accomplishments in table tennis. He has won three Olympic gold medals (in 2016 and twice in 2020), three World Championship singles titles (in 2015, 2017, and 2019), and two World Championship doubles titles (in 2011 and 2019). He has also consistently performed well in the World Cup, with two gold medals, two silvers, and three bronzes to his name.

Moreover, Ma Long has a staggering 24 titles in the ITTF pro tour, which is significantly higher than Zhang Jike’s six titles and Waldner’s four titles. He has also won the Asian Championships three times and the China National Championships twice.

Although Long’s career is filled with accomplishments, he recently faced a defeat in the World Tour Grand Finals held on October 29, 2022, where he lost 3-4 to his fellow countryman C.Q. Wang. However, this defeat does not diminish his remarkable legacy and his status as one of the greatest table tennis players of all time.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

2. Jan Ove-Waldner (Swedish)

Jan-Ove Waldner, a 57-year-old Swedish table tennis player, is widely considered a legend in the sport. Waldner is the first person ever to complete a table tennis grand slam, which consists of winning the Olympic Games, the World Cup, and the World Championships. Despite being Swedish, he is affectionately called “Lao Wa” in China, where he is more popular than American president Bill Clinton.

Waldner is known for his unmatched serving ability, which is considered one of the reasons why he is a great player. He mastered the art of returning 75 backhands without making a single mistake at the age of just seven. He is also known for his ability to trick opponents with different angles, types, and forces of serve. Table tennis analysts say that Waldner has a unique connection with his bat and ball, which has earned him the nickname “The Mozart of Table Tennis.”

In addition to his exceptional serving ability, Waldner’s longevity in the sport is another reason why he is highly regarded. He played professionally from the 1990s until his last match in 2016, during which time he won six World Championship singles medals.

Although younger players have surpassed Waldner’s medal tally in recent years, his legacy as a table tennis great is sure to live on. His achievements in the sport have made him an inspiration to many aspiring table tennis players around the world.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

3. Liu Guoliang (Chinese)

Liu Guoliang, born on January 10, 1976, is a former table tennis player and the current president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association. He is known for achieving a career grand slam of three majors – Olympic Gold, World Cup, and World Championship, making him the second player to do so in table tennis history.

After retiring from professional table tennis in 2001, Liu became the coach of the Chinese national men’s team at the age of 27. Under his guidance, China’s men’s team has won every men’s singles team championship in the World Table Tennis Championships. He is widely regarded as the most successful coach in the history of table tennis, having coached top players such as Ma Lin, Wang Hao, and Wang Liqin.

In 2018, Liu was elected as the president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, further cementing his influence on the sport. He was instrumental in leading the Chinese team to win all the gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Liu’s older brother, Liu Gudong, is also a former table tennis player and currently coaches the Indonesian team. He has previously served as the head coach of Singapore’s women’s table tennis team.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

4. Deng YaPing (Chinese)

Despite being denied a spot on the national table tennis team due to her short height, Deng Yaping became one of the most successful players in the history of the sport. Born in 1973 in Zhengzhou, Henan, China, Deng began her table tennis career in 1988, and her first major title came in the women’s double at the World Championships.

Over the years, Deng went on to win several more titles, including the singles World Championship in 1991 and the singles and doubles titles in 1995 and 1997. She also won both singles and doubles gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Deng was ranked world no. 1 for eight years, from 1990 to 1997, and at the time of her retirement, she had won the most table tennis titles among both men and women.

Deng’s achievements earned her several accolades, including being voted as the Chinese athlete of the century and being inducted into the ITTF hall of fame. Following her retirement in 1997, Deng pursued an academic career, obtaining various degrees from Chinese universities. In addition, she holds an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China.

Apart from her academic pursuits, Deng has also been involved in promoting sports in China. She was a member of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympics and played a crucial role in organizing and promoting the event. Deng’s dedication to sports and education has made her an inspiration to many young people in China and around the world.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

5. Wang Liqin (Chinese)

Wang Liqin is a former table tennis player, born in Shanghai in June 1978, who had a remarkable career in the sport. He began playing in the early 90s and went on to become one of the greatest players of all time. He was ranked ITTF number 1 for 25 consecutive months and was known for his powerful shots, which were considered among the best in table tennis.

Liqin won numerous championships and awards during his career. He is a three-time World Championship winner, having won the singles championship in 2001, the doubles championship in 2005, and the team championship in 2004. Additionally, he won the Olympic doubles gold medal in 2004 and the Olympic singles bronze medal in 2008.

Liqin’s height of 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 meters) and his shakehand grip style were important factors in his powerful shots. Interestingly, he frequently changed his paddles, trying out more than ten different models of rackets throughout his career, which is a unique characteristic among professional players.

In 2013, Wang Liqin retired from the Chinese national table tennis team, but he remains involved in the sport as a coach of his Shanghai team, which competes in the Chinese super league. His contributions to the sport were recognized when he was inducted into the ITTF hall of fame.

Wang Liqin’s achievements, style, and influence in table tennis made him one of the greatest players in the sport’s history.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

6. Kong Linghui (Chinese)

Kong Linghui, a former world no. 1 in table tennis, was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China in 1975. He is renowned for being one of the three players in history to complete a career grand slam in table tennis.

At the age of 17, Kong was sent to Sweden for five months of exclusive training as part of China’s strategy to challenge the European dominance in table tennis during the early 90s. He adopted a shake-hand grip style, which was modeled after top European players of the 80s and 90s, including Jan Ove Waldner.

Kong Linghui has won several major titles throughout his career, including Olympic gold medals in singles and doubles, the World Championships in singles and doubles, and the World Cup. He has also won several national and international competitions in singles, doubles, and team events.

Currently, Kong Linghui is serving as the head coach of the Chinese national women’s team, where he continues to share his expertise and skills with young players. In recent years, Kong Linghui was involved in a controversy when a hotel sued him for failing to repay a loan of S$1 million ($747k) that he had borrowed from Marina Bay Sands hotel in Hong Kong. However, the case was later settled out of court.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

7. Zhang Jike (Chinese)

Zhang Jike is a former Chinese professional table tennis player, born on February 16, 1988, in Qingdao, Shandong Province. He was born into a family of table tennis enthusiasts, and his father, Zhang Chuanming, was a table tennis coach. Zhang Jike is known for achieving the table tennis grand slam, which is winning the Olympics, World Championships, and World Cup in singles competition. He accomplished this feat in just 445 days, making him the fastest player to do so.

His career achievements include winning the singles gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, winning the World Championships in 2011 and 2013, and winning the World Cup in 2011. He also won the Asian Cup in 2010, as well as several other titles in doubles and mixed doubles.

Zhang Jike was ranked world no. 1 by the ITTF from June to December 2012, further highlighting his dominance in the sport during his peak years.

After announcing his retirement from professional competition in 2018, Zhang Jike has continued to stay involved in table tennis, serving as a coach and commentator. His impressive achievements and innovative playing style have made him one of the most memorable and beloved table tennis players of all time.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

8. Wang Hao (Chinese)

Wang Hao is a former professional table tennis player known for his offensive penhold style of play. He is best known for winning the World Championship in men’s singles in 2009, which cemented his status as one of the greatest players of his generation.

Throughout his career, Wang Hao achieved numerous accolades, including three World Cup Championships in 2007, 2008, and 2010, and three silver medals in the Olympics in 2004, 2008, and 2012. He was also ranked as the world no. 1 player by the ITTF for 27 consecutive months between 2007 and 2009, before Ma Long replaced him.

In addition to his world championship and Olympic successes, Wang Hao appeared in the finals of major world competitions twelve times, showcasing his consistency and competitive prowess. He also won the Chinese National Games, Asian Championships, Asian Cup, and Asian Games, further solidifying his status as one of the most accomplished table tennis players of all time.

After retiring from professional competition in 2014, Wang Hao became a personal coach to Fan Zhendong, one of the rising stars of Chinese table tennis. He continues to share his vast knowledge and experience with the next generation of players, further contributing to the sport’s growth and development.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

9. Wang Nan (Chinese)

Wang Nan is a highly skilled table tennis player known for her precise ball placement and exceptional hitting style. She dominated the sport from January 1999 to November 2002, holding the world no. 1 ranking for almost four years.

Her career took off after she won the Swedish Open in 1994. Following this victory, she went on to win several prestigious competitions, including the Women’s World Table Tennis Cup and the American and China Open from 1997 to 1998.

At the 2002 Olympics, Wang earned two gold medals, showcasing her incredible talent and skill on the international stage. She also represented China in the 2008 Olympics, where her team won a gold medal. Although she lost in the Women’s singles final against Zhang Yining, Wang’s performance was still impressive and demonstrated her enduring competitive spirit.

Wang Nan announced her retirement from professional table tennis after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, ending a remarkable career that had spanned over a decade. In 2008, she married Guo Bin, another table tennis player, and started a new chapter of her life.

Wang Nan’s outstanding performance and exceptional achievements in table tennis have made her one of the most notable women in the sport’s history. She is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, regardless of gender, and her legacy continues to inspire future generations of table tennis players.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

10. Xu Xing (Chinese)

Xu Xin, born on January 8, 1990, is a professional table tennis player from China. He is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time and has won numerous accolades throughout his career. Xu first reached the number one spot in the ITTF World Ranking in 2013, following his victory in the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in December 2012. Since then, he has consistently performed at the highest level, winning medals in many international competitions.

Xu’s playing style is characterized by his traditional penhold backhand technique, which he uses to execute precise lobs and pushes. He also has a unique forehand loop, which he is able to execute with great accuracy and power, thanks in part to his long arm.

One of Xu’s most notable achievements is his victory over Ma Long, the reigning world champion, on multiple occasions. In 2014, Xu defeated Ma Long three times, and he repeated this feat in 2016, which helped him claim the world champion position. In 2016, Xu married fellow table tennis player Yao Yan, and the couple welcomed their first child, a son, in September 2019.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Xu won a silver medal in the mixed doubles event. He also competed in the China National Games, where he won a gold medal in the mixed doubles but was eliminated from the singles event in the quarter-finals by Liu Dingshuo.

Throughout his career, Xu has won numerous titles, including the ITTF World Tour (51 times), World Tour Grand Finales (2 times), Asian Cup (4 times), Asian Games (4 times), Asian Champion (11 times), World Cup (7 times), and Olympic Champion (2 times). His many achievements have cemented his place as one of the greatest table tennis players of all time.

Best Table Tennis Player - Players You Never Knew Before

Who is the No 1 Table Tennis Player?

Ma Long is a Chinese table tennis player who is widely considered one of the best players in the history of the sport. He was born on October 20, 1988, in Anshan, Liaoning, China. Long started playing table tennis at the age of five and has been competing professionally since 2005.

Ma Long is known for his powerful forehand shots and quick footwork on the table. He has won numerous titles throughout his career, including three Olympic gold medals, three World Championship singles titles, and two World Championship doubles titles. In addition, he has won the World Cup twice and has 24 ITTF World Tour singles titles to his name.

Long has also been ranked as the world number 1 player for a total of 68 months, the second-longest in history. He is known for his disciplined training regimen and focus on physical and mental preparation for competition. His nickname is “The Dragon” due to his powerful and dominating play style on the table.

Ma Long has faced several injuries throughout his career, including a back injury in 2018 that required surgery. However, he has continued to compete at the highest level and has cemented his place as one of the greatest table tennis players of all time.

Famous Table Tennis Players

Table tennis has produced some of the world’s most talented and iconic athletes. Here are some of the most famous table tennis players in history:

Timo Boll: The German player is one of the most successful European players in history, having won numerous titles including multiple European Championships and World Cup titles.

Jörgen Persson: The Swedish player won numerous World Championships and European Championships titles and was known for his unique style of play.

Ryu Seung-min: The South Korean player won the Olympic gold medal in 2004 and was a multiple-time World Tour winner.

Waldemar Świerzbiński: The Polish player won two World Championships and was known for his powerful forehand and backhand shots.

Ding Ning: A Chinese player who has won gold in the singles and team events at the 2016 Summer Olympics, as well as three World Championships singles titles and two World Cup singles titles.

Chen Meng: Another Chinese player who has dominated the women’s game in recent years, winning gold in the singles and team events at the 2020 Summer Olympics, as well as two World Championships singles titles and one World Cup singles title.

These players have left an indelible mark on the world of table tennis, and their skill, talent, and achievements will be remembered for years to come.

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