Is Serena Williams the best womens tennis player ever? I can’t imagine anyone consistently defeating her.
Serena Williams is so powerful and well trained that it may not be fair to compare her to another women’s tennis player of any other generation because not only is the equipment different today but also diet, weight training, physical therapy practices, rehabilitation routines, etc.; however, Navratilova, Graf, Court, Billie Jean King, Althea Gibson and Maureen Connolly were tops in their eras playing under their conditions, equipment and training methodologies.
The better question in my mind, Lowell, might be how good would these other generational stars be in today’s game if they were afforded the same amenities, technologies, training regimes, diets, rehabilitation practices and equipment as Serena Williams?
Just as in golf, how many more tournaments in today’s era would Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer win with all of the juiced up irons and woods, training, diet, ease of travel with private jets, etc. than they won in their eras when they dominated the game?
Serena may be the greatest “Tour de Force” player the womens game has ever seen. She can simply will herself to victories over her opponents. The sheer power of both her serve and her ground game is something to behold. And the way in which she has had nearly two seperate careers has been impressive to watch.
The only thing she has really lacked has been a consistent rival, someone who pushed her time and time again. Others have won majors, but none with consistency. Steffi Graf had Monica Seles, whose career was cut tragically short and Martina Hingis. Navratilova had Evert and both still won 18!
On the Mens side Sampras had Agassi, Edberg, Becker, Courier. Federer has Sampras, Agassi, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic.
Serena may just yet be the greatest ever, but at this moment I still lean towards Graf. Ask me in a year, and she may well have gone past her, and kept going.
Probably. Most dominant, for sure.
I know you’re on vacation, but any chance you can share some of your memories about Ken Stabler?
Steve, I never covered Stabler, never met him.
It’s not even a debate with people who know Tennis. The problem with her, she is not really liked and that is a entire conversation within itself.
Neal, why isn’t she liked?
Wow, a tennis topic!? We are living in such a golden age for this sport, it’s amazing it doesn’t get much coverage here. Serena is easily the best ever. It’s not really even close. Always tough to compare between generations but Serena owns all 4 majors in TODAY’s game, for the second time. No one stands up to that comparison.
I can’t put my finger on it, but it seems that what ever slam , she is in, the crowd does not support her. She seems aloof and distance. Maybe a little whiny. Now that being said players like Martina in her later years, Evert and Graff had big fan support. Watching the match between Djokovic and Federer, Roger is really loved. I really don’t like Djokovic as he has more then one occasion yelled at a ball boy. Fans love Nadal, Agassi and Connors in his later years as well. Fans love the vulnerable side of players and for some reason fans just don’t connect to Serena.
I heard a interview with Ted Robinson last week and he was saying the same things about Serena too.
I think like Mike, but will add comments. If we mythically have all the tennis greats compete while in their prime and use identical equipment, most particularly the racket, there is something worth considering.
After many years of practice, even for an average player, the racket becomes an extension of the player’s body. The leg work, body positioning and hand-eye coordination become best aligned and work efficiently all together – when the racket and string remain the same or similar. Over years the seemingly difficult shots become routine. For the exceptional player the astounding is more possible. Regardless of era.
So for example, if prime Novac Djokovic plays prime John McEnroe and both players use Mac’s old Dunlop Maxply Fort, a racket Mac used like a wand and could tie his shoes with, then edge to McEnroe. If they use whatever modern untensil Djokovic plays, the he has the advantage.
Could prime Serena beat prime Martina Navratalova using 1980 equipment? I say Martina wins.
@ Neal & Lowell Cohn
I believe the dislike of Serena & her Sister Venus stems from their Father’s involvement in their Tennis Careers early on. Richard is no longer involved with their careers, but their Father Richard Williams, got on some individuals in the Tennis World “last nerve,” invho….
Just for fun I found that Steffi Graf won 22 Grand Slam titles. She retired in 1999 at the age of 30 while she was ranked 3 in the world.
Serena at the age of 33 is still going strong with 21 Grand Slam titles.
I don’t want to take anything away from Serena. She is great and I’ve grown to like her. She and Venus used to bother me by how they seemed to over-celebrate their victories instead of toning it down and show some sportsmanship.
I agree with Dave T that Serena doesn’t have a strong #2 opponent. Can anyone name the #2 women’s player in the world? Or even #3, #4, and #5? Steffi Graf was powerful and could beat Martina Navratilova (who seemed invincible for a while). Then Monica Seles started showing how she could beat Steffi except at Wimbledon. Unfortunately, Seles was stabbed in Germany and she never really returned to her old self. Serena really doesn’t have a rival and hasn’t since Venus tailed off and the Belgians (Henin and Clijsters) retired.
Lowell Cohn has been covering Bay Area sports for more than 30 years and he’s never run out of things to say.