By Matt Hill
Back in March, the Tennis Channel revealed a list of the greatest tennis players all time on a combined male and female list. They were wrong about the women.
At first I thought they had messed it up between Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, with me thinking Navratilova was the greatest player of all time. However, after watching tennis this summer, I have totally changed my opinion on her too. Folks, the greatest player of all time is Serena Williams. She is definitely the most dominant.
Since her first round French Open loss to Virginie Razzano on by far her least favorite surface, she has been absolutely almost unbeatable.
Williams won the three biggest events of the summer, Wimbledon, The Olympics and on Sunday won 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 thriller over so-called world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka to take this year’s U.S. Open title.
The only reason Williams is not ranked No. 1 is because she doesn’t play enough tournaments. She manages her schedule well. Lets officially give her a bigger No. 1 ranking, the greatest of all time.
When Williams is healthy and when her heart is into it, she is almost impossible to defeat.
On hard courts, she has nine grand slam titles, five in Australia and four in New York. Many years ago she was called the greatest hard court player of our generation. At Wimbledon, Serena and her sister Venus have been just as dominant, both owning five singles titles. Heck, Serena even won a French. She has 15 slam titles.
Though there are others who have more slams in their possession, those players also haven’t had to deal with the injuries and hardships Serena has. From constant injuries early in her career to the lung fracture a couple of years ago, probably no one in the history of tennis other than Monica Seles has had to face more trials than her. Through it all, Serena has remained a very strong person and when she has been 100 percent, she has been about unbeatable.
Maria Sharapova is also one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and she took one game off Williams in the Olympic final. Angelique Kerber owns the only win of the summer against Williams in Cincinnati. No offense to Cincinnati because that is a great tournament, but it’s not London or New York.
Williams is the only player in the world, man or woman, where you watch a match and no matter who she is playing you don’t expect her to lose. Even when Williams lost the second set 6-2 at the US Open, you just knew she would turn it around. There’s no one in tennis other than maybe Rafael Nadal who fights better than she does.
Now about Williams’ legacy. Steffi Graf would not have won 22 slams if Monica Seles had not been stabbed, and Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert’s games would not have held up against the power of Serena. It’s hard to compare eras, but nobody has ever been more dominant than Serena. Had Serena been healthy the whole time, there is no doubt she would have at least 20 slams.
Very few people have won as many slams after the prime of her career than Serena has. Heck, she’s making it the prime of her career. A Sports Illustrated cover a few years ago said “Serena, The Greatest Ever,” Tennis Channel was wrong. Sports Illustrated was right.
Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player to ever live. No doubt about it.
Matt Hill is the tennis columnist for Elizabethton (TN) Star. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter at MattHillsports.