The Greatest Of All Time. GOAT for short. It’s a title that gets thrown around every time someone comes on the scene with a vast amount of promise and talent. We did it with Roger Federer when he hit the eight slam mark. People are doing the same with Rafael Nadal. I guess tennis fans are excited to see if an athlete can top their wildest expectations.
This time, the term is being applied to Serena Williams. Williams owns 13 slams, which includes Wimbledon 2010. When she is on her game, no one can defeat her. You don’t compile a 13-3 record in slam finals without being a great competitor. But does that mean she should be mentioned in the same breath as the other greats like Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert?
Jon Wertheim thinks so. He wrote in his column, Inside Tennis, that Williams’ latest win moves her closer to GOAT territory. While some people are noting that she didn’t have to face an opponent in the top ten, Wertheim doesn’t think it would’ve mattered who she played. Her serve would have taken her through the tournament, and through any opponent. Williams didn’t drop a set the whole tournament. And while she didn’t play anyone in the top ten, she did defeat a multi-slam winner (Maria Sharapova). Li Na was in the top ten earlier this year.
Still, it may be too early to rank Serena Williams as the GOAT. It may even be too early to have the discussion. Simply look at the numbers. Navratilova and Evert are ahead of her with 18 slams a piece. While their respective areas are too far apart to compare in terms of talent, the fact is they still won more than her. You can’t beat those numbers.
There is no doubt that Serena will make it into the history books. And yes, it’s not a sin to place her in the same company as the Grafs, Navratilovas, and Everts. Honestly, I think I would like her chances if she went head to head against them at their prime (especially Evert). But there is no way to accurately gauge that. Steffi Graf is regarded as the best woman player ever, but Margaret Court is two slams ahead of her with 24.
If she can reach the 18 slam mark, then it would be time to open the discussion again. Winning 18 is a possibility for her. Serena will certainly by the favorite at the US Open. Assuming she wins there, she would need to win at least two majors for two years. That isn’t too hard to imagine, especially if she maintains her form.
So Serena Williams: GOAT? Not quite. Check back later.
Jon Wertheim.”Fifty Parting Shots From Wimbledon.” http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/jon_wertheim/07/04/wimbledon.wrap/index.html