By claiming her 17th grand slam singles title at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams now sits just one major title behind legends of the game Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, and five behind Steffi Graf, who holds the Open Era record of 22.
It now seems inevitable that she will at least tie and perhaps even surpass the numbers set by Navratilova and Evert, solidifying her place in the debate over who is the greatest of all time, but just how many more can she win?
When you try to estimate how many more wins an aging champion has left in them, the first step in the process is to quantify the pace of deterioration in said player’s game. Have they lost a step here, a few miles an hour off their serve there?
However, in defiance of her senior status in the game, Serena Williams actually appears to be moving better than she did in her twenties, and as for power, her fastest serve came at this year’s Australian Open, when she clocked 128.6 mph (207.6 kph) - just 0.4 mph shy of her sister Venus' world record.
Read: Serena wins fifth U.S. Open title
It’s no exaggeration to say that at nearly 32 years old, Serena is physically fitter, technically better, psychologically tougher, and emotionally stronger than at any time during her remarkable career. And her results show it, having won nine titles so far this year, eclipsing her previous best of eight set back in 2002 during the peak of her powers, when she won the first three legs of the Serena Slam.
The second biggest factor in determining an aging player’s future is the quality of the next generation nipping at their toes.
When Serena burst onto the scene as a teenager in the late '90s, the women’s tour was overflowing with future Hall of Famers such as Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, not to mention her older sister, who was starting to make serious waves in the game.
In the early 2000s, the depth of competition was equally deep, with Justine Henin, Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters and Venus to contend with. And yet, during these times, Serena was able to carve her own place as one of the dominant players of the era.
These days her only real threat comes from Victoria Azarenka and, to a lesser extent, Maria Sharapova. And yet, between the two of them they share a combined five wins over Serena in 32 attempts. As for the rest of the world’s top 10, they combine for just four wins over Serena in 38 attempts.
In a nutshell, Serena is in a league above the current crop of contenders.
For many players her age, burnout is a factor which can a serious impact their ability to continue winning.
Fortunately for Serena, her tendency in previous years to play an abbreviated schedule, focusing on the major events, with relatively little attention on her ranking, has allowed her to develop a life outside of tennis, including ventures into fashion, business and the entertainment world.
She has also spent a good deal of time away from the game due to injury. The most recent, and most serious, keeping her away from the game for almost an entire year, during which time she spent time in hospital suffering with potentially life-threatening blood clots in her lungs.
Faced with the very real possibility that her career could have been over, Serena appears to have returned to the game with a newfound drive. The cliche goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and for Serena, she seems to now fully appreciate what she has, and is striving to make the most of it.
With this new focus and appreciation for the game, Serena has already spoken out about her future, more than hinting that she’s already filled out the 2016 Olympics application form, signed the check and mailed it in, guaranteeing she’ll be around for at least another three years.
Of course, you can expect that at 35, Serena’s inevitable decline in fitness would be unavoidable, but with the best-of-three set format the women’s game plays at grand slams - unlike the men's five - she could probably still compete at the highest level at 70% of the strength and speed she currently exhibits.
Excluding the year she missed due to injury, Serena has averaged two grand slams a year since late 2008. If she were to continue that trend until the Olympics in 2016, she’ll have accumulated a total of 22, tying Steffi Graf for the most singles majors in the Open era.
While that seems like a daunting task for any player, identifying a factor which could stop is hard to pin down.
From here on in, the only obstacle standing between her 22 majors is her own body. She’s not been immune to injury in the past, and no player is ever immune from it in the future.
If she can stay healthy and manage her schedule well, I don’t see any reason why she cannot continue to win multiple majors each year between now and the Olympics. And who’s to say she’ll stop there?
Even if she never wins another match, she’ll go down as one of the all-time greats, but I for one don’t think she’s close to being done. Watch out Steffi, I think Serena’s got five more in her.
What about Margaret Court's 24 Grand Slam titles?????
That's a good point, but the article is talking about the Open Era and many of Margaret's titles came before the start of the professional game in 1968...
What about them? This a more competitive era in women's tennis.... Just because of globalization of the sport ... There are so many more countries competing than there were back then....the level of competition now is crazy... Even Martina said that!!!!
Margaret Court's 24 titles is a fantastic record, and she also has a grand slam. However, 11 of those are at the Australian Open starting in the early 60s. A lot of the players didn't travel down under to what was then the final major of the year. Also, some of those years were not in the Open era, which means pros couldn't compete. So – a great record, but with some reservations. I'd also note that reservations are there for Evert Lloyd (the queen of the French Open skipped that tournament for a couple of years due to tennis politics; she would have won those) and for Graf, who was on a major losing streak to Seles before a deranged Graf fan took her out for nearly 3 years. Seles would have won a lot more, and Graf would have won fewer.
She's tied with the great Roger Federer!
Monica Seles is the greatest of all time, though. Her record – before the outrageous attack on her – was simply extraordinary and she dominated Steffi Graf over a long period.
She's the greatest I've seen, along with Williams, and I think she would have figured out grass. I think she's one of the few who would have had a great chance to defeat Williams on a regular basis. She didn't have a chink in her psychological armor; she was Nadal-like in her competitiveness and ability to focus. She would have been pounding the corners with huge power strokes that would have frustrated Serena, and a younger Serenea could become dispirited from behind. Serena has more poise now and can stay in events even if behind.
She may be a great tennis player, but in my eyes, she'll never be great because of her personality flaws. She has no respect for her fellow players and feels it's just about her............always. She pulls out the race card when a call goes against her (I've seen her do it), and she never gives her opponent credit when she is beaten. I always remember when Justine Henna beat her a few times, Williams said "She had her little bag of tricks". "All she had to do was show up on the court to win today" She's been fined for refusing to do her interview after a loss, so the next time she lost, the firs thing she said at the post interview was "I didn't want to come but I didn't want to be fined." I have no respect for the Williams sister with their "Us against the world" attitude. She'll never be the champion her forbearers were because of these major flaws..................I pity that because I'm an American and would like to root for her, but simply can't bring myself to do it.
Um, Randy, Serena Williams won an astounding ELEVEN tournaments last year! Nadal "only" won ten tournaments. lol So if you're looking for a player who BEST exemplifies the ability to focus, see Serena Williams and realize you've found her! Seles was good. But we did not have to speculate about whether or not Serena would have the brains, the skill, and the courage to excel on a "different" surface. The entire world watched Serena Williams win EVERY event on CLAY during clay season. Seles was great, but no way would she have "regularly" beaten a healthy, magnificent Serena.
no..she isn't s good as Serena a t her best...noise wise yes but seren is by fr the best ..womens tennis pro ever.no question monic ws good but not quite with serena
Jeff, you're right. Serena Williams is the best tennis player to ever draw breath. Who served better than Serena? No one. Serena hit a record number of aces at back-to-back Wimbledons. At one, she hit many more aces than the Male player with the most aces on the men's side. Serena's service motion, when on,has been called the best form in history – man OR woman!
Who was consistently faster than Serena? No one. Not even her former track star sister, Venus.
Serena's Passing Shots down the line, Topspin Lobs, Acute cross-court Angles, Wrong-footing of opponents, etc. are and have been Fantastic. Even many of her drop shots have been used to great effect. To see Serena's amazing variety of shot and versatility, Google,"Serena Williams More than Just Power."
Reblogged this on SoshiTech.
"Can Serena Williams become the greatest?" She is a man! The WIlliams brothers!
Seles made a very fine come back Warren but she aint and was no match for Graf or Mr Williams at their best times.
Why don't you hug a lion? insulting a champion ... hater.
Racist, sexist and stupid answer.
Arsene, you are correct. No one on tour has been more feminine than Serena Williams. From her fingernails to her toes. No one. Google "Serena Dances With Mascot Along With Azarenka at Federer Gillette Tournament." Then Google " Serena, Federer, Clijsters, and Nadal Playing in Hit for Haiti Charity Match."
You are a nut at best and a bigot at worst.
Leaving aside the sexist and racist rant (terrible!), Seles owned Graf for 2 years before she was stabbed. She would have owned her for a while longer.
harry you do get it..they do ply like men sometimes but its years of practice with someone who knew how to teach them..
Jeff, the brilliant Williams sisters play tennis like the virtuosos they are – like women who play tennis very,very well- not like "men." Most top women have male practice partners so they can learn to get back harder hit returns. Serena Williams has the most womanly figure on the women's tour. Blind racists needed glasses.
Harry, Serena Williams has the most womanly figure on the women's tour. Google "Serena Does the Splits" and see what pops out at you. It's nice that a Real Woman is such an amazingly great athlete. Our artists make manifest what we human beings intuit at the cellular level: The Strongest Woman is the Most Womanly Woman. Artists always depict Female Superheroes with Curves! Go, Serena, gooo!
Pretty Good.....from Serena Williams
She might be successful , but somebody who wants to 'kill a linejudge by shoving a ball upon her ass should never be considered 'the greatest'
They said "greatest tennis player", not a "perfect mortal". It's not as if goes around threatening people all the time. Can't a mortal in the spotlight be allowed one – just one – moment of frustration and anger?
Why this holier-than-thou pickiness?
Give Serena a break!
One??? Just one??? Serena has had many foul moments with her temper on court, and I've seen people here freely called bigots because they don't approve of her methods on court, yet Serena doesn't mind in the least pulling out the race card against a line judge because of a call she disagreed with..............and it hasn't been just once.
She just doesn't give her opponents any credit when she's beaten, but it's funny how many nice things she has to say about how tough her opponent was after she has won. She is one of the all time greats statistically, but she is just too riddled with "It's all about me."
Rastaike, you are right and Kathy is dead WRONG. Serena did ONLY have ONE really big boil-over. Her few other slight run-ins were what virtually every top player female and male player has gotten exasperated enough to engage in. I'm glad Serena is back to her NORMAL, cool, good-humored self though. The '09 US Open was clearly an abberation.
And of course, there is videotape and there are also transcripts going back nearly 2 decades that PROVE that Serena was almost Always gracious in interviews. There is also videotape along with transcripts that prove other players from Hingis to Kournikova to Sharapova, etc, were NOT gracious in interviews!
christel..its their upbringing..the comment should hve gotten her suspended but she is street to some degree...you dont know how she grew up , so believe me she is out of line but she is living her own way..
Is it that hard to see a black/colored person dominate a white sport? Get used to it cause there are more arising.
Jeff Kurtz, Serena Williams was raised by a spiritually devout mother and by a positive father who also wanted her to be a good person. Though her parents were her very first tennis coaches, Serena and Venus also had an extremely popular white coach when they were young children. He wrote a book in which he called the Wiiliams girls " The most polite children I ever coached." Even after the insane viciousness visited on Serena at Indian Wells when she was still an innocent19 year-old, Serena was gracious and even forgiving in her on-court interview after the final. Racists had been trying to do evil to the Williams girls from the time they were Champions as mere Children. Serena's attitude FINALLY just boiled over a time or two in a nearly 20 year career. Compare that to McEnroe whose entire career was marked by outburst after outburst after outburst. What was his upbringing like?
Serena Never said she wanted to "kill" the stupid linesjudge.Serena uttered a statement so hyperbolic that it proved she was NOT issuing a real " threat" at all! Unless you expected the linesjudge to have Serena's yellow tennis ball sticking out of her mouth like Sylvester with Tweety Bird! No one condones Serena's outburst, and she herself apologized, but it was the Jennifer Capriati's on tour who taught Serena to hurl the "f" word at officials. Early on for years Serena's harshest word on tour was "heck" and she rarely even said that!
Monica Seles was one of the finest tennis players before stabbing.equal to or better than the best. She was top notch. big pity the stabbing made Graff have no competition .after grand slam no 14graff had no competition.the five players are equal.
seles, Graff, evert ,Navratilova and Williams.
You must be joking.
According to Victoria Azarenka and Chris Evert Serena is the greatest player of time. The overwhelming majority of Tennis fans believe that Serena can win more Grand slams like the great Steffi.
"Can win" does not equate to "will win". The numbers will tell the story once she stops playing.
Serena is already the greatest. Ask McEnroe, Everet, Navratilova, Graff, Seles and so on and they will tell you what you don't want to hear or read :-) Does it hurt?
If u count singles as well as doubles grand slam titles, the greatest player is still Martina Navratilova... By a mile.
I respect Martina's game. But let's face facts. Martina is gay, and as such did not halt her career to marry, get pregnant, and start a family as Chris Evert, Steffi Graf,etc, have done and as the Williams sisters will do. Does that make her serves, lobs, speed, passing shots, etc, "better" than Serena's or the others'? No. Longevity counts for something, tho, and hats off to Navratilova. But once you've won a certain number of Majors where the keenest competition vies for supremacy, then other things are taken into account. Serena's serve is the best the game's ever seen. Normally,so's her foot speed and overall athleticism. Billie Jean King calls Serena the best athlete in the history of tennis. Serena's consummate SKILL in addition to power are second to none. Passing shots, court management,topspin lobs, etc. Simply amazing. And Serena unfurled that gorgeous topspin lob of hers when she was just 17 years-old in her victory against the great Steffi Graf at Indian Wells. Serena is the greatest. Period.
When people say Serena is the greatest player of all time her quality of game is also taken into consideration and not only the number of grandslams she won. Afterall the great Navratilova was chosen by world journalists in London as the best player of the century (1900-2000) by taking into consideration the quality of her game , eventhough Graf won more grandslams. Body language of Serena during interviews shows that Serena is determined to win atleast 5 or 6 more grand slams. Many believe that she will succeed.And you know what that will mean.
Here is my take on this...Monica, Martina, Steffi, Chris, Kim, Justine all of them were great during their runs...Serena is now on her run and she is great...Why can't we give credit where credit is due. I could not last 1 game against any of the women I just named...They have all mastered their profession and I will take nothing away from any of them.....They were and are great champions. THANK YOU LADIES FOR SOME WONDERFUL TENNIS MOMENTS.
Sandy, I heartily concur. All those ladies are great!
She is winning games but ..... as far as being one of the greats, her character, mannerism, lack of class , rudeness and bullying tactics disqualifies her from consideration.
And that is what makes Navratilova and especially Evert more of champion material. Even if Graf was cold, she was not condescending nor righteous nor as if she only loses when she doesn't play her best – Evert was always gracious in defeat, and Navratilova didn't sound like she had a monopoly on being great – that's the big difference.
Serena tries always tries to present herself as a modest person . eventhough her achievments her grandiose.Serena never indulges herself in selfaggrandizement ,eventhuogh it is clear to any one she is a worldfamous champion. Those who elected Pele and M.Jordan as the greatest Football and Basketball players respectively in the history of mankind do have reasons.The tennis experts who called Serena as the greatest player of all time also have enough reasons.
Come on boys and girls this is a game where you can take two days to win a match, Greatest, check this out 9.58 against the rest of the 7.5 B in the world now that impresses me much wow, look out for 9.41 RIO
The record of her serving speed speaks for itself as a great player of all times if we have to compare to the all greatests, think we should give her a place
In addition to her consummate skill at serve placement, her great return-of-serve, her amazing topspin lobs, fantastc passing shots, on the run strategizing, foot-speed, etc. Serena Williams is the greatest. Btw, her sister Venus holds the record for fastest serve.
Serena can never be in the running for one of the greatest players as long as she refuses to justify to the world why she refused to submit to an anti doping test at her home on the 26th October, 2011.
You know how strict they are and penalties would have followed for sure. Just admit and keep breathing meantime that she is the greatest. What's so hard to acknowledge that? Will you get a color of that?
Mark Clark, a Fake "tester" had already tried to gain entry to Venus's and Serena's home. The wacko didn't realize one thing: Venus and Serena were Honors students. They called officials and were told that NO tester had been sent to their home. Venus and Serena called police. Beautiful Serena had also been Stalked Twice. Once by a German man who flew around the world following her till he went berserk in the lobby of the hotel in which she and her family were staying and he was arrested. And another time by a black man from the US.
Officials by then should have known better than to send a man in the wee hours of the morning to knock on the Williams sisters' door purporting to be a tester! Serena was tested before then AND afterwards. If you're REALLY looking for steroid cheats among women tennis players, look at the Eastern European women tennis pros who were Banned for steroid use. Sesil Karatantcheva, anyone?
And the irony for crazy, myopic racists fixated on the innocent Williams sisters is that Steroid Cheat, Karatantcheva, juiced to the gills, allegedly beat a Clean, Innocent Williams sister before Sesil was caught taking steroids and banned from tennis for years! Btw, it was Maria Sharapova who disgraced doping lab owner Victor Conte said he'd "worked with," NOT the clean, innocent Williams Sisters!
When will Serena be mrs?
The greatest? # 1 Pass drug tests (not once but several) #2 Become a better person (don't physically threaten umpires, it's called bullying, So the greatest? I don't think so to many faults in character.
You are still in pain, how can we help you?
Let's not attempt to disregard Serena's accomplishments by searching for things to negate her successes. Even at this point of her career Serena could be assessed as the best women's tennis player ever, taking into consideration the number of players playing in the different zones and with the improvement in racquet construction,plus al the other constraints platers undergo, drug testing, travelling from continent to continent, the majors, the champion of champions, it's a lot of pressure when compared to eras gone by, so my take is ...Serena is the best women's tennis player the world has ever seen....period.
These racist, jealous people on here can't get pass the fact that she destroys in the court. They cant wrap their minds around the fact that one of the greatest players in the sport happens to black and a FEMALE!! in a previously all white dominated sport. This is worst than the apocalypse to them, so they pick out negative things about her to make themselves feel better. But she's still dominating!!
What a stupid remark to assume racism because a person doesn't see greatness in a woman who discredits other players when she loses is nonsense, I couldn't care less about Serena's skin color. I loved Arthur Ashe, and what a role model he was. Respected all of these players............James Blake, JW Tsonga, Gael Monfil, Yannik Noah, and two of the newer players........Sloane Stevens and Donald Young. All of these players proved they were winners, and great people by their actions on and off court. Serena can't hold a candle to any of them as far as I'm concerned. When she talks all sweet and soft, that's when you can see what a phony she is. It's when she's yelling at a lines person that she wants to shove a tennis racket down her throat that she appears to be exactly who she is.
Kathy, it's not "stupid!" The double-standard regarding Serena has been glaringly racist and dishonest! For the vast majority of Serena's career she's been an Angel, even when being brazenly cheated out of victories at Majors! See 2004 US match vs Capriati and that infamous French Open vs Justine " The Hand" Henin.
For years the strongest word Serena used was "heck," IF she said anything while being cheated during a match. It took the foul-mouthed Jennifer Capriati's on tour to Teach innocent Serena to curse officials!
Indeed Joey Davis, ist all about jealous people and they can't stand it that a colored woman is dominating the white sport. They still live in the past!
SERENA IS ALREADY THE GREATEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER EVER, SO?!?! SHE'S ALSO BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY BLACK WOMAN <3
There shouldn't even be a debate or question regarding this matter. The evidence is clear and straight in your face that no female tennis player, past or present, compares to Serena, on any level. Her speed, serve, tenacity, and titles in both single and doubles, are incomparable and unmatched. Based upon performance and overall titles, she is and always will be the greatest of all time. So, cease with the ignorant, foolish, fallacious, racist, envious, hateful comments and just give honor where it is due. She does shine and come through, time and time again, for America, so please be proud to call her the greatest female tennis player ever, because she really is. "Go, Serena! You'll beat Graf's record soon and very soon; it's inevitable!"
She may beat Graf's record, but that won't make her great..........just the best female tennis player statistically. She'll never be loved by millions in the same way that Althea Gibson was, if you feel the need to compare her with other black greats. If not, she'll never make the majority of people feel all warm and fuzzy toward her like Kim Cliesters who was a great player and sweet person.
As a gold-medal winner at multple Olympics, Serena is not just loved by millions of people, but by Billions of people! At the 2000 Olympics journalists took polls to see who the most popular athlete there was. Venus and Serena were #1 and #2.
And chances are they won't have the financial hardship that "beloved" Althea Gibson had to deal with that depressed her so much she considered suicide till a friend intervened.
Bw, Serena is a sweet person. Many years ago a young woman pro was diagnosed with cancer. A year after that diagnosis, she publicly stated that Serena Williams had been sending her uplifting cards, gifts, and letters. You can go on youtube now and watch Serena comfort an injured opponent, Lisicki. After years of brazen mistreatment by others while trying to play tennis, Serena just blew her top once or twice in a nearly 20 year career. Kim was normally sweet, too, but on occasion even she could be a bit of a jerk – or just honest depending on how you look at it. Kim publicly suggested that Justine Henin faked an injury. Kim also made a couple of "cute-catty" remarks at Serena during a charity doubles match.
Serena is already the greatest and most popular, most loved tennis player of all times. Sorry haters cos she has over a billion people at her back in Africa alone.
Nothing u can do about that
Joey, you are right. The very fact that some people would come here spouting negatives that they've gotten second-hand without any real attempt to do necessary research on their own speaks volumes. They think they can just come here and try to cast aspersions on Serena when people who have been watching tennis for decades know the real deal. Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player and a basically good person.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Serena interviews and clips from Lagos to London.
Yes, Sandy they were good. But you do know that Serena's head-to-head vs Kim is 7-2 and her head-to-head vs.Henin is 8-6 even though Serena was injured during many their contests, don't you? And Serena beat Graf at Indian Wells when Serena was just 17 years old!
Serena already is the greatest!
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