Then And Now: How 13 Sports Legends Have Changed Throughout Their Careers

How would you measure the success of an athlete? Awards? Or influence on their sport? When it comes to great athletes, a picture of them at the peak of their careers comes to mind. The awards they receive throughout their career are certainly a big part of their perceived success.

As long as their been professional sports, there have been iconic sportspeople. Figures like David Beckham or Serena Williams have historically become household names, with their most famous moments featured in countless news stories, documentaries, and even movies.

Over time, many sports legends have changed greatly taking their first steps in sports and now, both physically and professionally. Thanks to the Internet, we still see how they’re doing today and their images remind us of some of their incredible athletic feats and record-breaking scores.

Keep scrolling down to see 13 sports legends.

#1 Lionel Messi

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: ASSOCIATED PRESS / East News, Rich Graessle / Icon Sportswire / Associated Press / East News

Lionel Messi is an Argentine professional footballer as the captain of the Argentina national team. He made his competitive debut aged 17 and spent his entire professional career with Barcelona until in 2021. On Nov, 2021, Messi won his 7th Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball), the most prestigious individual award for soccer players, becoming the player with the most Ballon d’Ors in history. Now, he has a happy life with his wife Antonela Roccuzzo, and 3 sons.

#2 Serena Williams

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: East News, East News

Serena Williams is considered among the greatest tennis players of all time. Since 2002, she has been ranked the No1 female tennis player in the world 8 times. In her career, she holds several records, including most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. In 2017, she got married to Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, and they have a daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian.

#3 Nadia Comăneci

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: ASSOCIATED PRESS / East News, AP / Associated Press / East News

Nadia Comăneci is best known for being the first gymnast to ever be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games. At the age of 14, she achieved this and 3 Olympic gold medals. Although she has long retired, she is still involved with gymnastics. She owns the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, the Perfect 10 Productions, and several sports equipment shops.

#4 Marta

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons© CC BY 3.0© martavsilva10 / Instagram

Marta is regarded as the greatest female footballer of all time. She holds the record for being Brazil’s top international goalscorer of any gender, with 115 goals, and for the most goals scored in the FIFA World Cup tournament. Nowadays, Marta plays for the US-based team Orlando Pride, where she met her teammate-turned-fiancé, Toni Pressley.

#5 Cristiano Ronaldo

Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS / East News, © cristiano / Instagram

Ronaldo made his international debut for Portugal in 2003 at the age of 18 and has since earned over 190 caps, making him Portugal's most-capped player.

In his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has won various prestigious awards, including five Ballon d'Or awards, four European Golden Shoes, seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, and the UEFA European Championship. He holds the records for most appearances, goals, and assists in the Champions League and goals in the European Championship and so on. His life is full of victories, too. He is the father of 5 lovely children.

#6 Rafael Nadal

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: Dubreuil Corinne / ABACA / Abaca / East News, FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / East News

Nadal turned professional at age 15 and participated in two events on the ITF junior circuit. 4 years later, he won his first Grand Slam title. He surpassed his joint record with Djokovic and Federer for the most major men's singles titles at 2022 Australian Open and became one of four men in history to complete the double Career Grand Slam in singles. Nadal has also opened a tennis academy in Mallorca and is an active philanthropist.

#7 LeBron James

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: ASSOCIATED PRESS / East News © Space Jam: A New Legacy / Warner Animation Group and co-producers

Nicknamed "King James", LeBron James is widely considered one of the greatest players ever and is often compared to Michael Jordan in debates over the greatest basketball player of all time. He has been playing since 2003 and he continues to collect titles, having won the fourth championship in the 2019-2020 season. In 2021, James was selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, and in 2022 became the first and only player in NBA history to accumulate over 10,000 career points, rebounds, and assists. In 2021, he starred in the sports film “Space Jam: A New Legacy”.

#8 Billie Jean King

Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS / East News,  Kristin Callahan / Everett Collection / / East News

Billie Jean King is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Besides winning multiple titles, King became known for her fight for gender equality. In 1973, she won a tennis match against male player Bobby Riggs, which was turned into a movie in 2017, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, titled Battle of the Sexes. Now, King lives her happily-ever-after with her wife and longtime partner Ilana Kloss, with whom she tied the knot in 2018.

#9 Lewis Hamilton

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: © lewishamilton / Instagram© lewishamilton / Instagram

Hamilton began karting in 1993 and quickly began winning races and cadet class championships. 2 years later, he became the youngest driver to win the British cadet karting championship at the age of ten. In his career, he holds multiple records, including for most wins and podium finishes. Hamilton also has an interest in music, saying that music has been a huge passion of his.

#10 Usain Bolt

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: AFP / East News© usainbolt / Instagram

Usain Bolt gained worldwide fame for his double sprint victory in world record times at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the first person to hold both records since fully automatic time became mandatory. His achievements as a sprinter have earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt”. He retired in 2017 and now is a father of a daughter and twin sons.

#11 Roger Federer

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: East News,AELTC / FLORIAN EISELE / East News

According to the Association of Tennis Professionals, Roger Federer was ranked No.1 for 310 weeks. His career spans over 2 decades and has earned him countless trophies and records. At age 36, he became the first man to win 20 major singles titles and shortly the oldest ATP world No. 1. In Sep 2022, he retired from professional tennis following the Laver Cup.

#12 Michael Phelps

Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS / East News© m_phelps00 / Instagram

Michael Phelps is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time. Throughout the 5 Summer Olympics, Phelps won a total of 28 medals, 23 of which are gold. In 2016, he retired and then focused on his personal life and his career as a coach.

#13 David Beckham

messi then and now, endrick felipe girlfriendSource: Talking Sport / Photoshot / REPORTER / East News Bauer Griffin / East News

Beckham's professional club career began with Manchester United, where he made his first-team debut in 1992 at age 17. In his career, he received various prestigious awards. He is the first English player to win league titles in four countries: England, Spain, the United States, and France. Now, he is the current president and co-owner of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City.

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