Motivation

All of Australia’s Favourite Athletes, Ranked

Professional sports are a huge source of enjoyment for people across the world, with the professional sports market expected to grow to $440.77 billion in 2021. Australia is no different, predicted to spend around $350 million on sport this year alone, providing hours of entertainment to millions of people, whether in the flesh or via a screen.

Australia has given birth to countless top athletes over the years, spanning everything from rugby and basketball, to Australian rules football, tennis, cricket and more. But who are the country’s most popular athletes? And which leagues have got sports fans the most hooked?

We analysed Google search volume data for over 100 Australian athletes to see which ones are gaining the most traction online. Here’s what we found…

Australia's most Googled athletes

 

Ben Simmons is the most Googled Australian athlete!

Sitting atop our list is Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard Ben Simmons, with an impressive average of 550,000 global Google searches per month.

Although Simmons hasn’t traditionally been considered the most ‘popular’ player in the sport (or even on his team), journalists and fans alike have praised his skills on the court, as well as his leadership, versatility and position flexibility. Simmons has also gained attention due to his high-profile celebrity connections including Kendall Jenner and Tinashe, which admittedly might have earned him a Google search or two.

Searches for Simmons’ name peaked more recently in July, when talks of his 76ers trade circulated the airwaves. But regardless of where his future lies, Simmons has got people talking – and putting fingers to keyboards – which he’s got to be given credit for.

F1 Driver Daniel Ricciardo shares no. 1 spot

Joining Simmons in first place is Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, who also receives over half a million searches per month.

Racing ahead of his competitors, online searches for the McLaren driver peaked in March thanks to the start of the 2021 Formula One World championship. Competing alongside team-mate Lando Morris, Ricciardo was reported to have had a rather slow start to the season, but nevertheless picked up speed before finishing in 11th place behind the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

 

Who are Australia’s favourite home-grown athletes?

It’s clear to see which Australian athletes are grabbing attention around the globe. But who are Australia’s own hometown heroes?

We analysed the local Google search volumes of Australia’s most iconic athletes to see how each one fares in Australia as a whole, as well as on a state level.

 

Australia’s top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Ash Barty – 90,500 average monthly searches
  2. Ben Simmons – 74,000 average monthly searches
  3. Nick Kyrgios – 74,000 average monthly searches
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – 60,500 average monthly searches
  5. Cameron Smith – 60,500 average monthly searches
  6. Dustin Martin – 60,500 average monthly searches
  7. Alex de Minaur – 40,500 average monthly searches
  8. Nathan Cleary – 33,100 average monthly searches
  9. Reef Heazlewood – 27,100 average monthly searches
  10. David Warner – 22,200 average monthly searches

Contrary to global opinion, Australia rates world champion tennis player Ashleigh Barty as its no. 1 athlete, with 90,500 average monthly searches. Interest in Barty hit a peak in early July when she won the women’s Wimbledon championship against Karolina Pliskova. Ben Simmons sits right beneath her with 74,000 average monthly searches.

As expected, Australian native and AFL player Dustin Martin emerges as no. 6 on the list, while pro-surfer Reef Heazlewood also makes the top 10, suggesting surfing holds much more weight as a sport with Australians than the rest of the world.

 

New South Wales’ top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Ash Barty – 27,100 average monthly searches
  2. Chris Lynn – 27,100 average monthly searches
  3. Ollie Wines – 27,1000 average monthly searches
  4. Bernard Tomic – 22,200 average monthly searches
  5. Nathan Lyon – 18,100 average monthly searches
  6. Dante Exum – 18,100 average monthly searches
  7. Sam Walsh – 14,800 average monthly searches
  8. Alex de Minaur – 12,100 average monthly searches
  9. Jason Day – 12,100 average monthly searches
  10. Sally Fitzgibbons – 12,100 average monthly searches

Though New South Wales holds a candle for the usual suspects, there are some other names it has a special affinity for. AFL players Ollie Wines and Sam Walsh make the list, as does pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons, who recently lost out in the Olympic quarter finals to hometown hero Amuro Tsusuki.

 

Queensland’s top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Ash Barty – 18,100 average monthly searches
  2. Chris Lynn – 18,100 average monthly searches
  3. Ollie Wines – 12,100 average monthly searches
  4. Bernard Tomic – 9,900 average monthly searches
  5. Dante Exum – 9,900 average monthly searches
  6. Nathan Lyon – 8,100 average monthly searches
  7. Sam Walsh – 8,100 average monthly searches
  8. Kyle Chalmers – 8,100 average monthly searches
  9. Dylan Alcott – 6,600 average monthly searches
  10. Jordan Berry – 6,600 average monthly searches

Queensland’s favourite athletes also follow the countrywide trend, but the state shows a particular fondness for its own homegrown competitive swimmer Kyle Chalmers, who recently won silver in the Olympics 100m freestyle, and Brisbane-born NFL player Jordan Berry.

 

South Australia’s top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Ash Barty – 5,400 average monthly searches
  2. Ollie Wines – 5,400 average monthly searches
  3. Dylan Alcott – 5,400 average monthly searches
  4. Bernard Tomic – 4,400 average monthly searches
  5. Dante Exum – 4,400 average monthly searches
  6. Alex de Minaur – 2,400 average monthly searches
  7. Patty Mills – 2,400 average monthly searches
  8. Pat Cummins – 1,900 average monthly searches
  9. Nathan Cleary – 1,600 average monthly searches
  10. Chris Lynn – 1,300 average monthly searches

South Australia’s top searched athletes don’t waver too much from the general pattern, but with the addition of cricketer Pat Cummins and Grand Slam-winning Paralympian Dylan Alcott.

 

Tasmania’s top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Ash Barty – 1,600 average monthly searches
  2. Dylan Alcott – 1,600 average monthly searches
  3. Ollie Wines – 1,000 average monthly searches
  4. Bernard Tomic – 880 average monthly searches
  5. Dante Exum – 720 average monthly searches
  6. Alex de Minaur – 480 average monthly searches
  7. Patty Mills – 480 average monthly searches
  8. Chris Lynn – 480 average monthly searches
  9. Gary Ablett Jr – 390 average monthly searches
  10. Luke Keary – 390 average monthly searches

Tasmania’s most popular athletes list is graced with a couple of new names, including AFL player Gary Ablett Jr and NRL five-eighth Luke Keary.

 

Victoria’s top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Dylan Alcott – 33,100 average monthly searches
  2. Ash Barty – 27,100 average monthly searches
  3. Ollie Wines – 27,100 average monthly searches
  4. Bernard Tomic – 22,200 average monthly searches
  5. Dante Exum – 14,800 average monthly searches
  6. Alex de Minaur – 12,100 average monthly searches
  7. Patty Mills – 9,900 average monthly searches
  8. Chris Lynn – 9,900 average monthly searches
  9. Luke Keary – 8,100 average monthly searches
  10. Brett Robinson – 8,100 average monthly searches

Unlike the other Australian states, Victoria shows a particular interest in pro runner Brett Robinson, which makes sense when you consider that Melbourne is Robinson’s own home city.

 

Western Australia’s top 10 favourite athletes

  1. Dylan Alcott – 40,500 average monthly searches
  2. Ash Barty – 33,100 average monthly searches
  3. Ollie Wines – 33,100 average monthly searches
  4. Bernard Tomic – 27,100 average monthly searches
  5. Dante Exum – 27,100 average monthly searches
  6. Alex de Minaur – 14,800 average monthly searches
  7. Nathan Cleary – 14,800 average monthly searches
  8. Patty Mills – 12,100 average monthly searches
  9. Chris Lynn – 12,100 average monthly searches
  10. Luke Keary – 9,900 average monthly searches

Bucking the trend of its fellow Australians, Western Australia places Dylan Alcott as their most popular athlete with an average of 40,500 searches per month. The Paralympian and tennis player has overcome tremendous obstacles to carve out his incredible career in sport, with 12 Grand Slam titles under his belt and recently collecting his 14th trophy by beating Sam Schroder in the Quad Wheelchair singles final.

Following Alcott, Ash Barty comes in second place with an average of 33,100 searches per month.

 

Basketball is home to the most popular Australian sports stars

Looking at our list of popular Australian athletes, basketball dominates the rankings with nine world-renowned names. Las Vegas Aces’ Liz Cambage, Toronto Raptors’ Aron Baynes and San Antonio Spurs’ Patty Mills all join Simmons in the top 50 along with fellow basketball heavyweights Thon Maker and Dante Exum. It seems that the NBL is all too capable of pushing out historic sports icons that will inevitably shoot to global success, making Australia a hotspot for basketball sporting heroes.

Cricket and tennis seem to produce the next highest number of popular athletes, each boasting eight players on the top 50 list including cricket team vice-captain Pat Cummins and Canberra-born tennis pro Nick Kyrgios.

We also found that:

  • The NRL produces its own fair share of big names, with four of its best hitting the list
  • Golf ranks on par with NRL for popularity, with four of its own players also making the top 50
  • Soccer and Australian rules football produce fewer sporting heroes, with just three soccer and three AFL players appearing in the top 50
  • Sports fans prefer NRL to Rugby Union, with no Rugby Union players featuring in the top 50
  • Motor racing and UFC are more niche sports for Australia, with just two athletes from each making the top list
  • Cycling, skateboarding, athletics, baseball and CrossFit feature just once in our list of most popular athletes, with swimming and surfing not appearing at all. This may be down to these sports being less popular with audiences worldwide, or it could simply be that the Australian sport scene isn’t as active or well-funded in these areas.

Take Home Message

No matter where you are in the world, few can deny the impressive impact Australian athletes have had on the world of sport.

Whether you’re a fan of catching your hometown heroes live at the big game or following the trajectories of your favourite stars around the world, it’s clear that Australia will continue to play a huge role in the global sporting scene for years to come.



Adele Halsall

Adele Halsall

Writer and expert


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