And I really am looking for an answer.
Did Suzanne Lenglen win 12 slams or eight? Did Billie Jean King win 12 slams or 39? The Australian Open wasn't important for a while. Mixed doubles WAS important for a while. There was, I believe in 1974, a primetime exhibition MIXED DOUBLES match featuring Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and I believe, Marty Reissen. Stop and consider that. An EXHIBITION tennis match. In primetime, on network television. The networks wouldn't put Federer vs Sampras on
now, much less in primetime.
So in King's days, doubles and mixed were very important. But for most of Steffi's Graf's career, not so. So who's rules do we measure success by?
If you asked a real hardcore devotee of men's tennis who the greatest player ever was, they might well answer 'Pancho Gonzalez'. But you'd have to be 50+, and a probably lifelong tennis fan to come up with that answer. Because you'd have to know about pre-Open era tennis, and how the pros played in those days. Rod Laver won the calendar slam twice
, couldn't play in the slams for about 20 slams. And he's a footnote in the Federer vs Sampras discussion. Yet many consider Gonzalez better than him.
Imagine if the NFL, only honored records from college as legitemate before the merger of the NFL and AFL, which was 1966, I believe. That's literally what men's tennis does. The best players turned pro. And most fans of men's tennis ignore their records.
Similarly, with women's tennis, the mess that is this sport makes acknowledgement tough. If I judge Martina Hingis', and Justine Henin's, respective careers against that of King, Court, Goolagong, Bueno, Lenglen ... Hingis is clearly the superior player. 15 > 5.
But, if I measure Henin and Hingis against Graf, Evert and Seles, Henin
is the superior player. Look at Venus Williams, Maria Bueno, Evonne Goolagong and Justine Henin
7 - 11- 1 - ? Maria Bueno
7 - 6 - 1 - 68 Evonne Goolagong
7 - 9 -2 - 41 Venus Williams
7 - 0 - 0 - 41 Justine Henin
So who's the best of the four? Who's the best of the four, for her era
? Is 'for her era', just a cop-out?
Were the Aussie's advantaged because they'd go home to play OZ? Or disadvantaged because they had to travel so far for tall the other slams. Wimbledon and Roland Garros were a relatively short trip for Graf, just as the Australian was for Court. Where's the advantage?
And is EVERY player from South America or Africa at a functional disadvantage? How do we take that into account?
What a collosal mess this all is!