THEN AND NOW: What the world’s biggest sports stars looked like as youngsters

Ronda Rousey, Lionel Messi, and Roger Federer have all changed a lot over the years.

caption
Ronda Rousey, Lionel Messi, and Roger Federer have all changed a lot over the years.
source
Getty/Harry How/Lluis Gene/Mike Hewitt
  • The world’s biggest sports stars didn’t always look the way they do today.
  • Over three decades have passed since some began their careers, meaning there has been plenty of time for change.
  • From Lionel Messi and Roger Federer to Serena Williams, Business Insider took a look at how 15 of the globe’s elite looked when they were youngsters.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Just 16 years old when he made his professional debut in 2003, Lionel Messi has since played over 700 games for FC Barcelona.


Lebron James has taken away the headband, but added tattoos, a beard, and plenty of muscle since high school.

source
Getty/Sporting News Archive/John McCoy

Serena Williams was winning trophies in 1991, and she is still doing the same in 2020.

source
Getty/Professional Sport/Michael Bradley

Not a lot has changed for the ageless Tom Brady over the past two decades, including his team and shirt number.

source
Getty/Boston Globe/Maddie Meyer

Cristiano Ronaldo in 2003: skillful, fast, goal scoring machine. Cristiano Ronaldo in 2020: skillful, fast, goal scoring machine.

source
Reuters/Marcos Borga/Getty/Marco Canoniero

Floyd Mayweather has stayed in astonishing shape since making his professional boxing debut in 1996.

source
Getty/The Ring Magazine/Jeff Bottari

Simone Biles has lost her braces since 2013, but has picked up four Olympic gold medals in exchange.

source
Getty/Corbis Sport/Kyodo News

Roger Federer sports a much cleaner hairstyle these days compared to the one he rocked in 2000.

source
Getty/Mike Hewitt/Marcelo Endelli

29 years ago, a 16-year-old Tiger Woods won the Los Angeles Junior Championship at Griffith Park.

source
Getty/Per-Anders Pettersson/Warren Little

Megan Rapinoe made her debut for the USWNT 13 years before guiding it to World Cup glory in 2019.

source
Getty/Christian Petersen/Richard Heathcote

Giannis Antetokounmpo went from NBA rookie in 2013 to the league’s MVP in just six years.


Rafael Nadal has the same competitive streak today as he did as a 14-year-old boy in 2000.

source
Getty/Manuel Blondeau/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Different sports, same outcome —Ronda Rousey was a Judo champion before she rose to the pinnacle of the UFC and the WWE.


Aaron Rodgers was playing for the University of California in 2002, but is now an NFL all-time great.

source
Getty/Robert B. Stanton/Stacy Revere

Irishman Conor McGregor is barely recognizable from his 2012 days as a Cage Warriors fighter with a shaved head.

source
ESPN/Getty/Ethan Miller