Legends of the Shuttlecock: Top 10 Indian Badminton Players

Welcome to “Champions of the Court: India’s Top 10 Badminton Players of All Time. We explore the incredible journeys of the best badminton players who have had an ongoing effect on the sport in India in this blog. These athletes have won both domestic and worldwide recognition for their extraordinary talent, tenacity, and sportsmanship via historic triumphs and inspirational accomplishments. Come celebrate with us the extraordinary abilities and accomplishments of these legendary players who have taken Indian badminton to levels that were never before seen on international stages.

1. P.V. Sindhu:

Pusarla Venkata (PV Sindhu), born on July 5, 1995, is a prominent Indian badminton player known for her remarkable achievements. She made history by becoming the first Indian to win the badminton World Championships and the second to secure consecutive Olympic medals. Sindhu’s career highlights include five medals at the BWF World Championships and victories at prestigious tournaments like the China Open and BWF World Tour Finals.


Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Padma Shri, and Padma Bhushan, she stands as one of India’s most celebrated and successful sportspersons


PV Sindhu, an Indian badminton player, has left an indelible mark on the sport with her remarkable achievements. Since her debut in 2009, Sindhu has consistently showcased her talent, winning numerous titles and accolades. She became India’s first-ever Asian Junior Champion in 2012 and went on to clinch several prestigious titles, including the World Championships in 2019, making history as the first Indian to do so. Sindhu’s success continued with an Olympic silver medal in 2016 and a bronze in 2021, making her the first Indian woman and only the fourth player in women’s singles badminton to claim two medals at consecutive Olympic Games. Her prowess on the court, coupled with her resilience and determination, has solidified her status as one of India’s most celebrated athletes.

2. Saina Nehwal:

Saina Nehwal, born on March 17, 1990, is an Indian badminton player renowned for her achievements. Saina Nehwal, born in Hisar to Harvir Singh Nehwal and Usha Rani Nehwal, began her badminton journey at eight when her family relocated to Hyderabad. Her parents, both badminton enthusiasts, supported her passion. Nehwal’s mother, a former state-level player, inspired her to pursue the sport professionally. She trained under Pullela Gopichand at his academy before briefly switching to Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bangalore. Nehwal’s return to Gopichand’s coaching saw her rise to the world number one ranking. Despite initial karate training, badminton became her primary focus, driven by her parents’ encouragement and her mother’s dream of seeing her excel nationally.


Arjuna Award (2009), Padma Shri (2010), Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna (2009–2010), Padma Bhushan (2016)


First Indian Woman to Achieve World Number 1 Ranking: Nehwal became the first Indian woman badminton player to achieve the world number 1 ranking in 2015.

Olympic Bronze Medalist: She won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, becoming the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic medal.

Multiple Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist: Nehwal won gold medals in women’s singles at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2018, and also led the Indian team to gold in the mixed team event in 2018.

First Indian Woman to Win a Super Series Title: In 2009, Nehwal became the first Indian woman to win a BWF Super Series title by clinching the Indonesia Open.

Multiple Time World Championship Medalist: She has won several medals at the BWF World Championships, including a silver in 2015 and a bronze in 2017.

Consistent Performer in Major Tournaments: Nehwal has consistently performed well in major tournaments like the All England Open, Indonesia Open, and World Championships, reaching finals and semi-finals on multiple occasions.

Record Holder for Indian Badminton: Nehwal holds various records in Indian badminton, including being the first Indian woman to reach the quarter-finals of the Olympics and the first Indian woman to win a medal at the World Championships.

3. Kidambi Srikanth:

Srikanth Kidambi, born on February 7, 1993, is an Indian badminton player who achieved the status of former world no. 1. He was honored with the Padma Shri in 2018 and the Arjuna Award in 2015. Hailing from Ravulapalem, Andhra Pradesh, Srikanth comes from a Telugu family. His father, KVS Krishna, is a landlord, while his mother Radha is a homemaker. Srikanth’s older brother, K. Nandagopal, is also a talented badminton player, having won junior national championships alongside him. They resided together until 2008, after which Srikanth relocated to the Gopichand Academy to further his training.

  • In 2014, Kidambi made history by becoming the first Indian to win a Super Series Premier men’s title at the China Open, defeating Lin Dan.
  • In 2015, he became the first Indian man to win gold at the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and also won the India Open Super Series title.
  • In 2017, Kidambi had a remarkable year where he won the Indonesia Super Series and Australian Super Series, becoming the first Indian male player to achieve this feat. He also reached a career-best world ranking of 2.
  • Kidambi won four Super Series titles in 2017, equaling the record held by Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, and Chen Long.
  • In 2021, he reached the finals of the World Championships, becoming the first Indian male badminton player to do so.
  • In 2022, Kidambi was part of the Indian men’s team that won the Thomas Cup by defeating Indonesia 3–0 in the final, with Kidambi winning his match against Jonatan Christie.

4. Prakash Padukone

Prakash Padukone, born on June 10, 1955, in Bangalore, Karnataka, is a former Indian badminton player. He attained the World No. 1 ranking in 1980 and made history by becoming the first Indian to secure victory at the All England Open Badminton Championships during the same year.

  • Prakash Padukone’s badminton journey began under the guidance of his father, Ramesh Padukone, who served as the Secretary of the Mysore Badminton Association.
  • He won the Karnataka state junior championship in 1964 after initially facing defeat in 1962, marking the start of his competitive career.
  • Padukone adopted a more aggressive playing style in 1971, leading to his victory in the Indian national junior title in 1972, followed by the senior title in the same year.
  • He dominated the Indian National Championships for seven consecutive years, starting from 1972.
  • In 1978, Padukone clinched his first major international title by winning the men’s singles gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada.
  • The following year, he emerged victorious at the prestigious “Evening of Champions” event at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
  • 1980 proved to be a landmark year for Padukone as he secured victories at the Danish Open and Swedish Open, along with becoming the first Indian to win the men’s singles title at the All England Championship by defeating Indonesian opponent Liem Swie King. He honed his skills and formed close bonds with European players like Morten Frost during his training stints in Denmark.

5. Sai Praneeth:

Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth, born on August 10, 1992, is a retired Indian badminton player. He made history in 2019 by becoming the first Indian male shuttler in 36 years to secure a bronze medal at the BWF World Championships, following Prakash Padukone’s achievement in 1983. Sai Praneeth received the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2019. He hails from Palakollu, West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, with parents Seshadri Deekshitulu and Madhavi Latha, and has a maternal aunt who was a national-level badminton player.

  • Sai Praneeth stunned 2003 All England Champion
  • In 2016, he defeated the 2nd seed Lee Chong Wei at the All England Super Series Premier.
  • Praneeth clinched his maiden Grand Prix title at the 2016 Canada Open by defeating Lee Hyun-il.
  • His victory at the 2017 Singapore Open Super Series made him the fourth Indian to win a Super Series title.
  • Praneeth secured a bronze medal at the 2019 BWF World Championships.
  • Despite being seeded thirteenth, he made a shock exit at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
  • Praneeth announced his retirement and will transition into a coaching role in the United States.

6. Pullela Gopichand:

Pullela Gopichand, born on November 16, 1973, is a former Indian badminton player and the current Chief National Coach for the Indian national badminton team. He clinched the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships title in 2001, emulating Prakash Padukone’s achievement. Gopichand oversees the esteemed Gopichand Badminton Academy. Recognized for his contributions, he was bestowed with the Arjuna Award in 1999, the Khel Ratna Award in 2001, the Dronacharya Award in 2009, and the Padma Bhushan in 2014. Remarkably, he stands as the lone Indian coach to receive the “Honorable Mention” from the International Olympic Committee in 2019.


Arjuna Award, 1999, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna, 2001, Padma Shri, 2005, Dronacharya Award, 2009, Padma Bhushan, 2014

  • Coached by S. M. Arif, Pullela also received training from Prakash Padukone and Ganguly Prasad at the SAI Bangalore.
  • Secured his first National Badminton Championship title in 1996 and continued his dominance by winning it consecutively for five years until 2000.
  • Earned two gold medals and one silver medal at the Indian national games in 1998, held in Imphal.
  • Represented India in three Thomas Cup tournaments and clinched a gold at the SAARC badminton tournament in 1996, defending his title in 1997.
  • Achieved success internationally by winning the Toulouse Open Championship and Scottish Open Championship in 1999, along with triumphing in the Asian satellite tournament in Hyderabad.
  • Secured a silver in the team event and a bronze in men’s singles at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
  • In 2001, made history by winning the All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham, defeating Chen Hong of China in the final after overcoming then world number one Peter Gade in the semi-finals. He became the second Indian to achieve this milestone after Prakash Padukone in 1980.

7. Parupalli Kashyap:

Parupalli Kashyap, an Indian badminton player who once ranked as World No. 6, made history by reaching the men’s singles quarterfinals at the 2012 London Olympics, a first for an Indian male player. He secured the gold medal in men’s singles at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and served as the Icon Player for the Banga Beats team in the 2013 Indian Badminton League. Born in Guntur, he initially trained under S. M. Arif in Hyderabad and later joined the Padukone Academy in Bangalore. Despite battling asthma, he persevered, training under Pullela Gopichand at the Gopichand Academy, ultimately achieving success in badminton.


2005-2009: Kashyap emerged as a rising badminton star, winning the boys’ singles title at the National Junior Open Badminton Championships in 2005. He made his mark in international tournaments, notably defeating higher-ranked players like Przemysław Wacha in the Hong Kong Open.

2010 Commonwealth Games: Despite reaching the semifinals, Kashyap secured a bronze medal in men’s singles and contributed to India’s silver medal win in the team event at the Commonwealth Games. In the 2010 Indian Open Grand Prix Gold, he also advanced to the semi-finals.

2012 Summer Olympics: Kashyap achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Indian male player to reach the quarterfinals in the Olympics’ men’s singles category. This remarkable feat elevated him to the 19th rank in the world.

2014 Commonwealth Games: Seeded second, Kashyap clinched the gold medal in men’s singles at the Commonwealth Games, marking a historic moment for Indian badminton after a 32-year wait. His victory solidified his position among Indian badminton legends.

2015: Despite initial setbacks, Kashyap bounced back by winning the India Open Grand Prix Gold title, defeating compatriot Srikanth Kidambi in an intense final. However, he faced challenges in Superseries events.

8. Ashwini Ponnappa:

Ashwini Ponnappa, born on September 18, 1989, in Bangalore, is an Indian badminton player renowned for her prowess in women’s and mixed doubles. Educated at St. Francis Xavier Girls High School and St. Mary’s College, Hyderabad, she chose badminton over hockey, despite her father’s hockey background. Partnering with Jwala Gutta, they earned numerous international accolades, including Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medals at the Uber Cup and Asian Badminton Championships. Their historic bronze at the 2011 BWF World Championships made them the first Indian women’s pair to achieve such a feat. They reached a career-high ranking of 10 in the BWF World Ranking.


Early Career Success: Ashwini Ponnappa secured her first national title in the sub-junior girls’ doubles category in 2001, followed by consecutive wins in 2004 and 2005. She continued her dominance by clinching the Junior girls’ doubles National title in 2006 and 2007.

Historic Gold Medal: At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta made history by winning the gold medal in the Women’s Doubles event, marking India’s first-ever gold in the event. This achievement elevated them to household names in Indian badminton.

Bronze at World Badminton Championships: In 2011, Ponnappa and Gutta secured a historic bronze medal at the World Badminton Championships, becoming the first Indian pair to achieve such a feat. They defeated the Indonesian pair of Vita Marrisa and Nadya Melati in the quarterfinals.

Participation in London Olympics: Ponnappa represented India in the women’s doubles at the 2012 London Olympics alongside Jwala Gutta. Despite a valiant effort, they narrowly missed out on a quarterfinal berth by a single point.

Success at Canada Open: Ponnappa and Gutta emerged victorious at the 2015 Canada Open women’s doubles, defeating the top-seeded Dutch pair of Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek in the final.

Mixed Results at Commonwealth Games: At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Ponnappa and Gutta secured a silver medal in the women’s doubles, while in 2018, Ponnappa contributed to India’s gold medal win in the mixed team event and secured a bronze in the women’s doubles with N. Sikki Reddy.

9. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy:

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, born on August 13, 2000, hails from Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh. Following his father and elder brother’s footsteps, both badminton players, he joined the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad in 2014. Teaming up with Chirag Shetty, they made history as the only Indian doubles pair to achieve World No. 1 ranking, win a BWF World Tour 1000 series, and secure gold at the Asian Games. They also set a Guinness World Record for the fastest badminton hit by a male player, with a smash speed of 565 km/h.


Historic Achievements:

  • Became the first Indian doubles pair to reach World No. 1 ranking.
  • Won the first-ever gold medal for India in the men’s doubles event at the Asian Games.
  • Clinched a historic gold medal in the Mixed Team event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

BWF World Tour Success:

  • Secured their first BWF World Tour title at the Hyderabad Open in 2018.
  • Became the first Indian doubles pair to win a BWF Superseries or BWF World Tour (Super 500+) title at the Thailand Open in 2019.
  • Won their first BWF World Super 1000 title at the Indonesia Open in 2023.

Olympic Performance:

  • Competed at the 2020 Summer Olympics, making a significant impact by defeating eventual gold medalists Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin.

Continued Success:

  • Consistently performed well at prestigious tournaments, including the India Open, French Open, and Malaysia Open.
  • Secured multiple medals at events such as the Commonwealth Games and the BWF World Championships.

Contribution to Indian Badminton:

  • Played a pivotal role in India’s Thomas Cup victory, contributing to the country’s maiden Thomas Cup trophy.
  • Their success has inspired a new generation of Indian badminton players and elevated the country’s status on the global badminton stage.

10 Chirag Shetty:

Chirag Chandrashekhar Shetty, born on July 4, 1997, in Malad, Mumbai, hails from a Tulu family. His father, a hotelier, had no sports background. Shetty began his badminton training at Mumbai’s Uday Pawar Badminton Academy before moving to Hyderabad’s Gopichand Badminton Academy. Paired with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy by coach Tan Kim Her, they emerged as the only Indian doubles pair to reach World No. 1 ranking in BWF World Ranking. Their achievements include winning the prestigious BWF World Tour 1000 series and securing India’s first-ever gold medal in badminton at the Asian Games, marking a historic milestone in Indian doubles badminton.

  • At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy won the men’s doubles silver as well as a historic gold medal in the mixed team event. They also won the Hyderabad Open, which gave them their first BWF World Tour championship.
  • 2019: The duo became the first Indian doubles pair to win a BWF Superseries or BWF World Tour (Super 500+) title, emerging victorious in the Thailand Open. They finished as runners-up in the 2019 French Open.
  • 2021: Shetty and Rankireddy faced an early exit at the 2020 Yonex Thailand Open and were eliminated from the 2020 Summer Olympics in the group stage. However, they defeated the eventual gold medalists in the group stage encounter.
  • 2022: They started the year by winning the India Open and were instrumental in India’s Thomas Cup victory. Additionally, they secured the men’s doubles gold at the Commonwealth Games and won a bronze medal at the BWF World Championships. They also clinched their first Super 750 title at the French Open.
  • 2023: Shetty and Rankireddy won titles at the Swiss Open, Badminton Asia Championships, and Indonesia Open, marking significant achievements for Indian men’s doubles badminton. They also emerged victorious at the Korea Open.
  • 2024: Despite facing losses in the finals of the Malaysia Open and India Open, they secured their first tour victory of the year at the French Open, claiming the Super 750 title.
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