A Tennis Great/Legend? - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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A Tennis Great/Legend?

What exactly is the Criterea for a Tennis 'Great'? The Justine Henin article in the other thread, states that she is recognised as a 'great' - but doesn't say by who, or based on what.

Is it the number of slams won? They players ability/technical performance?

Can i hence take it, that of the existing players, Serena, Venus and Justine will all be considered 'greats'?
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 03:29 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

The term does get thrown loosely in articles and on TV but think a tennis 'great' would be a player who has been around for some time (5 years+ maybe) and achieved a lot in that time (multiple GS titles and time at #1).

So JH/SW/VW would probably all qualify for that....Hingis and possibly Davenport too. In the mens you'd have Federer obviously and maybe Safin, Hewitt verging on it? Nadal is yet to do the time.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 03:39 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

There are more "greats" on the womens circuit because there is no Federer. Hewitt does not qualify as a great, not by a long shot, neither does Safin although he could have been. Federer and Nadal would be the only greats currently in the ATP, whilst WTA has Henin, Williamses, Davenport. This is based on longevity and achievements at slams, and, in Nadal's case, his performances at RG and Wimbledon, achievements as a teen, weeks at No.2, etc.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 04:53 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

I think there is also a difference between a "great" and a "legend." I don't think that any of the girls playing right now qualify as a legend. Don't get me wrong, I think that the Williams sisters and Henin may end up as legends once their careers are over. However, I don't think that their results necessarily qualify them as "legends." If any of them win enough grand slams to get to double digits, then I think that that would qualify them as "legends." The bar is set extremely high, because of all of the success of previous women such as Graf, Court, and all the other women who have won 10+ slams.

While on the men's side, Federer obviously qualifies as a legend. His total domination of Wimbledon, and men's tennis in general since 2003, obviously qualifies him as a legend. Also, considering that he is second all time in Grand Slam titles qualifies him as a legend as well. The bar is set kind of low on the men's side, because they have not had people who continually dominate for a period of time on all surfaces like Federer.

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 04:53 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

You have to make adjustments and honestly, it's all relative. In a time of Agassi, Sampras, Federer... 3 slams over a career is just not enough by any means.

Meanwhile, in an age of parity(sp?) on the women's tour.. shorter careers, so many injuries, you have to make adjustments like I said and notice that today's players will be judged differently.

Justine, Serena, Venus, Hingis were all great players who.. if not for serious injuries or put togethe in the same era, would have compiled double-digit slam numbers. I'm a little more conservative with the word "great" or "legend" and I would only consider Serena a tennis great and not even a legend, but it's because with the "Serena Slam" she achieved something only a handful have done. Hingis, Venus and Henin seem much more pedestrian.

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When will you learn that "pushers" never make it past the club level, let alone #1 on the WTA computer? Will it be too late?
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 05:03 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

Oh gawd.

What starts out as a fairly simple, straightforward question gets more complicated the more I chew on it.

Forget the always intriguing but ultimately futile argument of comparing differing eras, past players with the current batch etc.

There are many "great" players within a broad spectrum of "greatness".

I will play safe:

Any player that has been/is number 1 in the world, and has won a Slam - can be considered "great".

A legend? Now that is an entirely different argument.....
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 05:14 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

A 'great' and a 'legend' are vastly different things. A 'legend' is somebody who is still talked about years later. Helen Wills Moody is a legend. 19 slam singles titles, 31 slam titles overall, possibly the single most dominant woman's tennis player ever. Except for two defaults due to injury she made the finals of EVERY slam she ever played. And she never played the Australian, so she won all those titles only playing three slams a year. She is THE player that forces people to add the caveat, 'in the Open Era' to discussions about the elite of women's tennis. As great as Suzanna Lenglen and Maureen Connoly were, people can make excuses about there being more competition now, etc. Wills Moody won so damn much, those arguments pale. THAT'S a legend.

In my book, there are six 'legendary' players in the history of the women's game. Court, Graf, Navratilova, Evert, Wills Moody and King. Venus, Serena, Henin, Seles, Connolly and Lenglen just aren't in the same class as those six. And if it weren't for 'Battle of the Sexes II', King wouldn't be on that list.

'Great', OTOH, is a subjective term that's even applied to one-slam wonders like Sabatini. Every player who ever held the #1 ranking would probably qualify as 'great'. There's a lot of 'great' of there, but is it remembered 20, 30 40 years later? How many people on this board have no idea who Maureen Connolly was? But, 'won more slam singles titles than Navratilova' is a pretty short list.

Is Henin a 'great' player? Sure. If she retired tomorrow, would she be remembered 50 years from now? Only by tennis historians.

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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 05:17 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

I think what the original poster meant was a tennis "great" which is different than a "great" tennis player.

I always wanted to be somebody. If I made it, it's half because I was game enough to take a lot of punishment along the way and half because there were a lot of people who cared enough to help me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrinbaker00 View Post
When will you learn that "pushers" never make it past the club level, let alone #1 on the WTA computer? Will it be too late?
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 05:24 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

In my opinion, the word legend shows a dominance over most of the person's competitors throughout their competitive years. This includes both slams and regular tournaments. The player has to have been universally feared, and lived up to the claim by having a predominate number of wins, and has to have in some way uplifted the sport.

Federer is the only legend playing as an individual right now in my opinion, as he's already got the numbers to overtake for greatest of all time in terms of slams and weeks and number one, the fear factor, dominance, his record in non GS tournaments. The Bryan Brothers certainly vie for doubles legends along with a couple of the women's doubles teams playing right now.

The William's sisters still have time to achieve legend status as individuals. But their injuries and inability to play through them as INDIVIDUALS make them greats to me, but not that ultimate status just yet. This could change.

Still, Serena has the Serena Slam and Venus has reached that upper echelon of Wimbledon singles victories as well. IF they can break the double digits in terms of GS, they will end up legends as individuals.

Certainly, they are legends in terms of being sisters and dominating number one and two!!! That is a rare thing, and qualifies them as legends in that regard.

Both Williams' also helped solidify (for me the change power started with Graf, Seles, and Capriati) the change from the old game using more strategy in play to win, to the new ground power game (which in my opinion, hasn't necessarily been a good thing as its taken the beauty out of tennis, ie the net game -- but still it has been a major change in how the women's game is played). They've been helped in that regard by a change in equipment, strings, etc, but also by their own power and speed as athletes.

I personally believe that Serena and Venus could both end up legends as individuals before their careers end. But again, as sisters playing the sport both at such high a level, they are already legends in that regard.

I don't believe in giving players a bye for injuries or anything else that happened in their careers. Although I'm tempted with Seles! What happened to her was criminal (literally), and in my opinion, allowed Graf to achieve a level of GS success (as was the intention of the guy who stabbed Seles) that she most likely would not have done had Seles continued to progress as she was.

Still, at the end of the day, Graf has the 22 singles slams on record regardless of what happened or what anyone thinks. Most of the legends, Chris, Martina N, Graf, Billie Jean, Court, Lenglen, etc., have had to play through some tough periods and find a way to eventually come through on top. But Seles had an extraordinary event effect the overall outcome of her career achievements and status (considering her rise top the top before the time of the attack).

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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 05:25 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

The term legend is universal in sports . In tennis terms, how many slams you've won. You're only as good as how many slams you won after all is said and done

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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 06:49 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

Mo Connolly HAS to be considered as a legend. A calendar GS makes you a legend. Just at that alone.

Before her horse accident, she had the best numbers ever

Career Grand Slam in your 20s? Been there done that. Career golden slam your 30s?
There's only 1.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 07:13 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

Why has no one mentioned Althea Gibson? She is certainly a legend. She may not have as many GS titles as those mentioned, but because of the color of her skin, her great play and what she overcame and achieved certainly qualifies her as a legend, as it will Venus and Serena. I believe Justine is and will be considered a tennis great, but she will have to achieve so much more to achieve legendary status.

I agree that it can't be measured by GS titles and No. 1 status alone. There are so many variables that distinguish one player from another that would catapult one for one reason with the same tennis stats as another, but leave the other behind as just a great (which is no small feat BTW).

Last edited by Denise4925; Jan 8th, 2008 at 07:27 AM.
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

Althea Gibson? Who's she?

I guess if Roger Fed didn't know about her, then she isn't that important

Career Grand Slam in your 20s? Been there done that. Career golden slam your 30s?
There's only 1.
Serena.
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrserenawilliams View Post
Althea Gibson? Who's she?

I guess if Roger Fed didn't know about her, then she isn't that important
OTOH, Jankovic knew she was a kid when Gibson was playing

When we talk about "legends" Lenglen, Wills-Moodie, Connolly, Court, BJK, Navratilova, Graf come to the mind.
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old Jan 8th, 2008, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Re: A Tennis Great/Legend?

Thank you guys for the responses, all very interesting and much appreciated. I've picked up a few things, noteably that a "tennis great" and a "tennis legend" are considered separate groups. But still the Criterea for either group is unclear.

Dominance seems to be the primary characteristic for Legend status, and ability/quality of play - the main feature of a Tennis great. BUT... then which group people like Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson belong. I mean they didn't have as stellar performances as others, but are still celebrated for other a number of reasons WITHIN TENNIS. So then you can't really call them 'greats' in ability, but they didn't have dominance either as legends. But they are as i mentioned celebrated.

Or maybe i'm confusing myself and the issue.

Thanx for the contributions nonetheless.
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