12 Best Table Tennis Players Of All Time

Table tennis is the most sought-after game worldwide, but it holds the most sincerity and popularity in Asia. With talent, dedication, and hard work, these players have scratched their names in the golden plaques of Table Tennis Books.

Let us learn more about these players and their achievements. 

#1 Ma Long

Ma Long Famous Ping Pong Player
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Right-handed, shake hand grip
  • Born: October 20th, 1988
  • Olympic Games: Three gold medals

Ma Long is considered China’s star table tennis player because of his achievements and professionalism. He was also the captain of the Chinese team in the early years and since then regarded as the best player with the best forehand grip and a strong backhand.

He has won a total of 16 medals in the world championships from 2006 to 2013. Ma Long has won 9 World Cup gold medals continuously from the year 2009 till 2019.

Ma Long has an extraordinary record of holding the number one spot in the International Table Tennis Federation (IIFT) for a whopping 64 months. No other male player has reached this spot in the history of table tennis.

Additionally, he became the first male tennis player globally who has won every singles title in table tennis. Ma Long is also the first and only player who has won two consecutive singles at the China National Games.

Looking at his impressive records, he is the most excellent and best player in this sport. His teammates always think of him as the most tactical player who solves every problem within minutes. His conventional pendulum serves are very visually deceptive in the game that layers with a subtle spin and service motion.

#2 Jan-Ove Waldner

Jan-Ove Waldner
  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Playing style: Shakehand grip
  • Born: October 3rd, 1965 
  • Olympic Games: One gold and one silver medal

Born on October 3rd, 1965, Jan-Ove Waldner is one of the most popular and successful non-Chinese Ping Pong players of all time. The coaches recognized his excellent athletic potential at a very early stage, which led him to reach the extreme finals of the European Championship in 1982 at the age of 16 years.

His impressive eye-to-hand coordination made him the greatest player of all time. During Waldner’s peak years in the 1990s, he was more popular than Bill Clinton in China.

His recent achievement was his 9th Swedish title against an undersized opponent born on the year Waldner won the first Swedish Championship. Because of his long career, he has come across many more minor players and thus gained the nickname “Evergreen Tree” among the Chinese population.

Waldner is one of the seven players who have shown their talent and played since the officials made table tennis an Olympic sport.

Apart from his excellent results in the Olympic games, he has won three gold medals in the European Championship in the singles, doubles, and team competition. Calling him the living legend of table tennis wouldn’t be an overstatement for sure.

#3 Ma Lin

Ma Lin
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Chinese Penhold
  • Born: February 19th, 1980
  • Olympic Games: Three gold Medals

Ma Lin started his table tennis journey when he was five, and with immense practice and his extraordinary talent, he became a member of the provincial team in 1990. Ma Ling, in his childhood, joined the Chinese national team and served various matches to make China proud.

He is the only player in the male category to win the Olympic gold medal in all singles, doubles, and team competitions.

He has won five major titles in the World Cup championships, which any other male table tennis player has never done. Ma Lin is an aggressive player known for his powerful converse unpredictable serves, fast footwork, and third ball attacks.

After his retirement in December 2013, he served as a professional head coach for the Guangdong provincial table tennis team.

#4 Wang Nan

Wang Nan
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Shakehand grip
  • Born: October 23rd, 1978
  • Olympic Games: Four gold and one silver medal

Wang nun is a talented female Chinese player who has remained the world’s #1 player on the ITTF ranking from January 1999 to November 2002.

She began playing table tennis since she was seven years old and honed very special and sharp skills throughout the year. She has an excellent set of skills in ball placement and a remarkable speed of the overall hitting structure.

Wang nun won the women’s singles title at the competitive Swedish Open in the year 1994. She has twice won the Women’s World Table Tennis Cup, the Amerian and China Open from 1997 to 1998.

She again earned two gold medals in the 2000 Summer Olympics. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, she made it to the finals but lost to Zhang Yining, but she won the team gold for the host country.

Wang has been the leader of the Women’s TT team of China after Deng Yaping’s retirement.

#5 Deng Yaping

Deng Yaping
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Long rubber backhand
  • Born: February 6th, 1973
  • Olympic Games: Four gold Medals

Deng Yaping is yet another Chinese super player who won the hearts of the table tennis lovers soon after she forayed into the international championships. She has won eighteen world championship medals, including four Olympic titles between 1989 and 1997.

Deng Yaping started her career at the age of five and earned the provincial junior championship after four years of her practice. She won the prestigious first national championship medal at the age of 13.

She was denied a spot on the national team because of her height but finally got in 1988. In 1991 she won the first singles at the world championship to prove herself.

Later in 1992, she won a gold medal in both the doubles and singles championship in the Olympics held in Spain. Deng Yiping took her retirement age of 24 and had already won more titles than any player in the ping pong game. She retained the title of #1 ranked female player for eight years from 1990.

She was voted the best Chinese female athlete of the century. In 2003 she joined the International Table Tennis Federation Hall of Fame.

#6 Jhang Jike

Jhang Jike
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Right-handed, shake hand grip
  • Born: February 16th, 1988
  • Olympic Games: Three gold and one silver medal

Zhang Jike is regarded as the fourth male player in the table tennis history to achieve a Grand Slam career after winning his gold in the men’s singles at the London 2012 Olympics. He has won a Grand Slam in 445 days which is very fast as compared to other players. Later in 2013 and 2014, he won WTTC and World Cup, making him the only player close to winning his second Grand Slam.

He is a right-handed two-winged attacker; with these dynamic attacks and aggressive style, he puts the players on the defensive within minutes, if not seconds.

#7 Wang Liqin

Wang Liqin
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Shakehand grip
  • Born: June 18th, 1978
  • Olympic Games: Two gold and two bronze medals

Wang Liqin is a retired male Chinese tennis player who had ranked 12th till the January 2014 International Table Tennis Federation ranking. Wang Liqin started his table tennis career at the age of 6 and was soon at 15; the Chinese men’s squad picked him in 1993. He holds three majors in the three World Championships. He was also ranked #1 for 25 months by the ITTF from September 2000 to September 2002. His name proudly shines in the ITTF hall of fame. He is arriving as a coach for the Shanghai team at the Chinese Super League.

#8 Liu Guoliang

Liu Guoliang
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Penholder grip
  • Born: January 10th, 1976
  • Olympic Games: Two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal

Liu Guoliang is yet another retired Chinese table tennis player who has won all the major world tournaments, including the World Cup, World Championship, and the Olympics. He is the second male to achieve a career Grand Slam of three Olympic, World Cup, and World Championships. With his impressive serving style and penholder grip, he is a top-rated tennis player of all time.

Because of his impressive tracks and records, on December 1st, 2018, he was elected as the president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association.

#9 Kong Linghui

Kong Linghui
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing Style: Shake hands grip
  • Born: October 18th, 1975
  • Olympic Games: Two gold and one silver medal

Kong Linghui is the most successful Chinese table tennis player of all time. Kong Linghui has competed in 1996, 2000, and 2004 Summer Olympics to win. He plays with excellence when teamed up with Liu Guoliang.

Together, they competed and won 1996 men’s doubles and later, after three years, won a gold and silver medal in the men’s singles. These results made him the third player to win the career Grand Slam of the three most renowned championships.

Kong Linghui is considered the most sought-after player and now has taken up the respectable position as the head coach of China’s National Women’s Team.

#10 Ding Ning

Ding Ning
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing Style: Left-handed, shake hand grip
  • Born: June 20th, 1990
  • Olympic Games: Three gold and one silver medal

Born on June 20th, 1990, Ding Ning is one of the best women players in table tennis.

She won the women’s singles in 2011 at the World Table Tennis Championships. Later in 2015, she won her second World Title in the women’s singles. She won for the third time in 2017, making her the best World Champion for the third time.

Ding Ning has also won a shining gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the competitive women’s singles. She even won in the previous 2012 Summer Olympics and got a silver medal. Her impressive records make her a part of the Chinese team that won the gold medal in 2016 and 2012.

Ding Ning is currently retired and studying at the Peking University for her Master’s Degree in Physical Education.

#11 Qiao Hong

Qiao Hong
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing style: Shakehand style
  • Born: November 21st, 1968
  • Olympic Games: Two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal

Qiao Hong is a former Chinese ping pong player. She has won four Olympic medals, two of which are gold. She has also won a total of 10 World Championship medals in her table tennis career.

She was ranked #2 by the International Table Tennis Federation for a long time during her peak years.

Qiao Hong joined the ITTF Hall of fame in 2005. Qiao Hong is now the women’s national team coach and an active member of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

#12 Guo Yue

Guo Yue
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Playing Style: Left-handed, Shake hands grip
  • Born: July 17th, 1988
  • Olympic Games: 2 Gold and 2 Bronze medals

Guo Yue is an unbelievably talented female player whose left-handed shake hand attack is very well known in the table tennis industry. In the 2006 Asian Games at Doha, she took first place in the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and women’s teams. Later from 2007 January to July, she attended six International Opens and won four gold medals for her excellent play. Guo Yue also won the 2007 World Championship held in Zagreb, Croatia. After her London 2012 Olympics performance, she was switched to a provincial team, but in 2015 officials took her name down from the National Team. Since then, she had taken a detour from her sports career and has studied finance from the Tsinghua University.

Closing Thoughts

Table tennis is one such sport with a loyal following throughout the world that always keeps an eye for the next best player in the industry. Since table tennis is not a group game like football, hockey, or basketball, individuals find it extremely easy to choose their favorite player and root for them during international events.

We hope this list helped you in seeing some old and forgotten grand slam masters and their impressive records throughout their careers. If you are a budding tennis sports person, we wish you all the luck, and if you are a tennis aficionado, we hope your knowledge of table tennis keeps growing as time passes.

Eugene (Gene) Sandoval has been one of those guys who spent too many hours around ping pong tables in high school. However, soon enough, Gene understood that there is more to ping pong than having fun. That is how he started a journey that made Eugene one of the experienced semi-professional ping pong players in the United States. As the founder of the PingPongRuler, Eugene spends most of his time surrounded by ping pong tables and research. He always has this knack for coming up with new ping pong strategies and telling the good and bad equipment apart.