Badminton is one of the most enjoyable and challenging games in the world: it requires deftness, precision, and agility.
That’s why the game is so popular, primarily in Asian countries such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan, among others.
So, it comes as no surprise that for many years now, the world of competitive badminton has been dominated primarily by Asian players.
You will find them, and many other talented shuttlers, in our compilation of the best badminton players in the world at present. In addition, there will be a hall of fame section, where we’ll tell you about the greatest badminton players of all time.
Top 5 Male Badminton Players in the World
Here we’ll talk about the male players that dominate the world of badminton.
1. Lin Dan
You are likely to find this exceptionally talented player from China topping many lists ranking top badminton players; he is regarded by many to be the greatest male singles player of all time.
It’s easy to see why he deserves this title; by the time he was 28, Dan had won all 9 major titles in international competitive badminton. Throughout his career, he has won most gold medals, earning him the nickname “Super Dan.”
Lin Dan has won 2 back-to-back Olympic gold medals, 5 gold and 1 silver medal in the World Championships, and 2 gold medals in the Badminton World Cup. He brought home the championship title from the 2009 East Asian Games, as well.
2. Lee Chong Wei
Although now retired, the Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei has a sizable list of badminton accolades to his name, with one of them being named “a national hero” by the former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
In 2008, Chong Wei became the first Malaysian player in history to have earned the World No. 1 rank for 199 consecutive weeks from August 2008 to June 2012. He has won the gold medal at the 2006 Asian Championship, along with 3 silver and bronze medals in the World Championship and 4 gold medals in the Commonwealth Games.
Chong Wei also has the BWF Player of the Year title to his name not once, but 4 times.
Unfortunately, Chong Wei has been forced to retire due to a nose cancer diagnosis—however, he will always be remembered as one of the best badminton players the world has ever seen.
3. Taufik Hidayat
The former Indonesian Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat is also now retired but will easily show up on any respectable ranking of the best shuttlers.
Hidayat earned his fame over the course of his success in the Indonesian Open games, winning the title 6 times (in 1999, 2000, 2006 and three consecutive years from 2002 to 2004).
Then, he went on to win the men’s singles competition in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Shortly afterward, he brought home his win of the men’s singles competition at the IBF World Championships in August 2005.
A fun fact about Hidayat is that he is often referred to as the “arch-rival” to the Chinese player Lin Dan, which is seen as a testament to his talent.
4. Peter Høeg Gade
The next shuttler on the list is also a retired one, but still highly deserving of the attention; he was, after all, ranked as the world number 1 for 4 years from 1998 to 2001. He also earned the 1999 singles title in the All England Open Championships.
He regained the number 1 spot in 2006 after his victory in the Singapore Open, followed by his success in the Malaysia Open, in which he made it to the quarter-finals. Gade also has 22 Grand Prix titles.
He owes his accomplishments to a warrior-like approach to the game, combined with a commendable sense of sportsmanship. He was recognized by footwork and swift attacking skills and is notable for his trademark move, the Double Action.
Gade retired in 2012 after his defeat in the French Open quarter-finals.
5. Chen Long
This Chinese player is a repeat Olympic champion, two-time World champion, and two-time All-England champion. Long began his career in the 2007 BWF World Junior Championships and has not looked back since.
Long defeated Lee Chong in the 2016 Olympics and was named the new Badminton Singles champion, which earned him a gold medal. If you want to improve at singles, you should watch him play on youtube.
Long calls Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei his role models, which is also the reason why some fans also refer to Long as Little Dan, or the Junior Lin Dan.
Top 5 Female Badminton Players in the World
Here we’ll talk about the female players that are currently ruling the world of badminton.
1. Carolina Marin
Spanish shuttler Carolina Marin has come to be widely regarded as the top female badminton player, especially after her victory at the Women’s Single World Championship in both 2014 and 2015.
She is also the first-ever Spanish player to snag the title of number 1.
Marin is very first-ever female shuttler to win the badminton world championship (that too, thrice!). Marin also boasts an Olympics gold medal thanks to her defeat of renowned Indian player PV Sindhu, her rivalry with whom is well-publicized.
Marin is well-known for her swift movements and powerful smashes. Something else that is noteworthy about her is the fact that she is the only left-handed player to have earned a world ranking.
2. Gao Ling
Owing to an awe-inspiring command over the forecourt, Gao Ling has quickly earned herself a place in the list of women in badminton’s most successful doubles players.
The evidence of Ling’s talent rests in her long list of top-tier tournament accolades. She has 4 gold medals in the BWF World Championships (both in women’s doubles and mixed doubles).
Along with her doubles partner Zhang Jun, Ling has also won consecutive medals at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
Furthermore, along with her partner Huang Sui, Ling has also bagged 6 consecutive women’s doubles titles at the All-England Championships, from 2001 to 2006.
3. Tai Tzu Ying
At only 16 years old, Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying grabbed the title in the 2011 Taiwanese badminton ranking competition. Then she became well-known for many other accolades.
Tzu Ying won 6 consecutive titles in a staggering winning streak of 27 between 2016 and 2017, making her one of the top contemporary badminton players in both genders.
She also ranked number 1 in 2016, which she retained for 67 consecutive weeks. She was also one of the finalists at the 2010 Singapore Super Series.
Her first international title was at the 2011 US Open Grand Prix Gold, at which point she was only 17.
Tzu Ying also won the All England Open 2017 and 2018 and Hong Kong Super Series thrice between 2014 and 2017.
Tzu Ying is renowned for having an unpredictable style of play, which, together with the wide range of angles and shots she employs, have earned her huge attention in a short time.
4. Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal has quickly come to be one of the most instantly recognizable names in the world of competitive badminton and one of the most successful athletes in India.
Nehwal first came to the spotlight after representing India thrice in the Olympics, becoming the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic bronze medal.
Including 11 Superseries titles, Nehwal has over 24 international titles to her name. She is the only Indian with at least one medal in every major BWF individual event, including the BWF World Championships (in which she was a finalist), and BWF World Junior Championships.
In 2015 Nehwal exceeded all expectations by becoming the first and only female Indian player to achieve the world no. 1 ranking.
5. P. V. Sindhu
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu first came to international attention after she began to dominate the 2012 top 20 BWF World Rankings, at which time she was only 17.
No other Indian female athlete had won an Olympic silver medal before her, which made her the only other Indian badminton player other than Saina Nehwal to win an Olympic medal.
She also won silver at both the 2017 and 2018 BWF WC. She also has silver medals at the women’s singles at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 Asian Games.
In 2018, she defeated Japanese Nozomi Okuhara and became the first Indian to win the 2018 World Tour final.
Fun fact: She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government. It’s India’s 4th highest civilian honor.
Badminton Hall Of Fame: Greatest Badminton Players Of All Time
In this section, we’ll talk about the players that have won a place in the heart of every badminton lover.
Widely regarded as one of the finest badminton players of all time, Rudy Hartono is a former Indonesian player who came into his international fame after winning the men’s singles title at the prestigious All England Championship a staggering eight times, with 7 consecutive wins between 1968 and 1974.
During the time of his first win, he was only 18. He was the 1980 World Champion, which was no little feat especially considering that it was his first and only attempt at clinching the title. He also won the title in his first attempt at the 1980 2nd IBF World Championships.
Hartono is also remembered for beating Svend Pri in the 1972 Munich Games finals, in which badminton was showcased as a demonstration sport rather a more serious one.
Known far and wide for her fantastic overhead strokes, Han Aiping is now regarded as a legendary figure in international competitive badminton. She is most widely remembered for her domination of the international women’s singles in the 1980s.
Together with his rival, teammate and occasional doubles partner Li Lingwei (who is equally legendary), Han Aiping dominated international singles play for most of the ‘80s, winning the IBF World Championship two times.
She also led the Chinese team’s victory in the women’s world team category at the Uber Cup competitions during the decade.
Aiping has a number of other accolades under her belt, including 3 gold medals and 3 silver medals in World Championships. She also won the 1986 Seoul Asian Games title in badminton, two gold medals in the World Grand Pix, and the WBF’s 1979 World Championships.
In the course of her impressive career, Aiping also won the Japan Open twice, Hong Kong Open four times, and Malaysia Open thrice. In 1998, she was named in the Badminton Hall of Fame, and rightly so.
Li Lingwei, a former Chinese shuttler who rose to prominence around the same time as Han Aiping, is regarded by many as being the greatest women’s singles badminton player of all time.
She was known particularly for her net play and court coverage, and of course for her famous relationship with her rival and teammate Aiping.
With Aiping, Lingwei dominated international women’s singles and clinched the victory of the IBF World Championships twice. She also earned the 1985 IBF World doubles title.
Lingwei also has 3 gold and 2 silver medals from the BWF World Championships to her name, along with the World Grand Prix singles title. Like Aiping, in 1998 Lingwei was also inducted into the international Badminton Hall of Fame.
Morten Frost Hansen
The Danish Morten Frost Hansen spent a staggering 12 years in the highest 3 spots in the world rankings. With the exception of the World Badminton Championships,
Hansen is known to have won nearly every top-level international championship, which earned him the nickname of Mr. Badminton.
Hansen was the victor at the All England Open Badminton Championships four times in a span of 6 years, clinching the title in 1982, 1984, 1986, and 1987.
In between, he won the 1984 and 1986 European championship.
Hansen is also known for winning the Nordic championship 7 consecutive times between 1978 and 1984, which at the time was unprecedented. He also earned the title at the Denmark Open 7 consecutive times from 1980 to 1986, then again in 1989.
Who is the Best Badminton Player of All Time?
The answer to this question does not really require extensive analysis or research. It is widely agreed upon by all enthusiasts and experts of badminton worldwide that the best badminton player of all time is undoubtedly Lin Dan of China.
The “King of Badminton,” as he is called, has earned the name by becoming the only badminton player in history to earn the Super Grand Slam.
A shuttler can only earn the title after winning all 9 major titles in badminton—
- Sudirman Cup
- World Championships
- Super Series Masters Finals
- World Cup
- Thomas Cup
- Asian Games
- All England Open
- Asian Championships
Dan had earned all of these titles by the time he was only 28 years old. He is a 2-time Olympic gold medalist, thanks to his victories at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics—he was the first men’s singles player to retain his title in this way. Dan also has 5 world championships and 6 All England championships under his belt.
With his victory in the Malaysian Open in 2017, Lin had accomplished the Super Grand Slam.
Dan owes his worldwide fame to his smashing power and incredibly efficient footwork. Combined with the momentum he is able to produce, watching Lin Dan play is a truly awe-inspiring experience. So, if you feel the need to get better at your smash shots, then you should watch his games closely.
You’ll be glad to know that apart from boasting a stupendous record, Super Dan has also expressed a wish to join up with other badminton greats such as Chong Wei, Hidayat, and Gade to turn badminton into a global sport.
Badminton, as a game is a highly enjoyable pastime, to be sure, but it’s also a game that, when played competitively, can be high-stakes.
Therefore, becoming a highly-ranked badminton player doesn’t just happen overnight, and the only talent isn’t enough; it takes dedication and hard work which are slowly transformed into a proper skill set.
The athletes mentioned in this article have worked hard, and it shows. If you’re looking to hone your skill in badminton, then let them inspire you, and I wish you good luck!