View Full Version : Who was the most dominant women's player of all time?

Feb 14th, 2002, 07:36 PM
My candidates:
1. Martina Navratilova
2. Steffi Graf

And the second part of the question: Can any one of the current WTA players reach that level of domination?

Here's my take:

a. Venus Williams: No - has a great talent, but lacks commitment/desire
b. Serena Williams: Maybe - if she can beat Venus, she has enough desire
c. Martina Hingis: No - too many power players to overcome
d. Jennifer Capriati: No - not enough time left
e. Lindsay Davenport: No - not enough time left
f. Kim Clijsters: Maybe - has the time, talent, desire
g. Justine Henin: No - I don't see her dominating over Clijsters
h. Mauresmo: Maybe - if she gets over her headtrips
i. Jelena Dokic: No - I can't see her as a dominating player

Feb 14th, 2002, 07:41 PM
This thread might be better with just the second half.

I dont think any player today is going to be able to have the level of domination or accomplishments of Graf, Navratilova, and Evert. The one player today that is close to even 10 slams is Monica, but she won't win another one.

Feb 14th, 2002, 07:42 PM
I think it was susan lenglen, she lost 1 match in her career or so.

Feb 14th, 2002, 07:44 PM
Susan Lenglen? One match? Didn't they smoke on changeovers back then?

Feb 14th, 2002, 08:53 PM
How do you define dominance?

Those you listed were. I'd add women who went undefeated in one or many years like Alice Marble,
Suzanne Lenglen,and Helen Wills. All had unbeaten streaks longer than the modern record of 74 held by Navratilova. Lenglen won at least 120 straight-Wills at least 180.

None of the current women have truly been "dominant". I'd say you need 3 majors in one year and few losses to get the honor. By that standard Hingis had the last dominant year(1997)-but we haven't had a dominant female since Graf in 1995 and 96.

Feb 14th, 2002, 09:53 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen, I offer you unmatched domination. Margaret Court Smith.

Some say her stats were padded by winning OZ at a time when not every player went down there. However, look at how she did her most dominant years, 1962-1973. Except years she left the touyr to have children, Court won 2 GS titles every year or decade! Playing against Marina Bueno, Virgina Wade and Bilie Jean King I might add.

OZ 1960
OZ 1961

Then the good tiimes roll.

1962 OZ RG __ US
1963 OZ __ WB __
1964 OZ OZ __ __
1965 OZ __ WB US
1966 OZ

Gets preganant, leaves tour.

1967 __ __ __ __

Open Era

1968 __ __ __ __

Margaret Smith Court returns

1969 OZ RG __ US
1970 OZ RG WB US ** The Year of the Grand Slam
1971 OZ

Kid II: Margaret Smith Court leaves tour

1972 __ __ __ __

Margaret Smith Court returns

1973 OZ RG __ US

The woman was a wrecking ball. The best player on the tour for a decade. The only player who can close to match her GS record is Steffi. But given Monica's dominance of the pre-stabbing head-to-head vs Steffi, I can't really give Steffi the nod as most dominat. You can't be the most dominant if you aren't even the best player. No ne else in the history of women's tennis has as good a record as this over as long a period of time.

Feb 14th, 2002, 09:56 PM
Oh no! Here we go again!!!:eek: :eek: :eek:


Feb 14th, 2002, 09:59 PM
I agree with you Rollo, when you say that none of the current players have dominated to the degree of Graf, Navratilova, Evert. I'm not familiar with the others you cited, but they sound like they qualify.

The first question was to set the standard for what really defines dominance.

My second question was to ask who of the current set had the potential to be that dominating, if any?

As to the definition of dominance, to me, unbeaten records / winning streaks is one way of looking at it. Another way is to look back on a particular era, and think of who were the defining players of that era-- the unbeatables, or the great rivalries that happened only between 2 players.

Ironically, I think that it is the very DEPTH of today's women's tennis that makes it difficult to pick a "dominant" player, even one in development. (Take that, Rios!) Men's tennis right now is the very epitome of no one truly ABLE to dominate the sport. Makes you appreciate Sampras and his run.

Feb 14th, 2002, 09:59 PM
AGAIN!!! :sad: :sad: :sad: :eek: :eek: :eek: :sad: :sad: :sad:

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:01 PM
Let's for argument's sake confine the discussion to the modern era. WE ARE ALL FORGETTING MONICA!:eek:

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:09 PM

Nice post Volcana-

Court merits a look. She DID win a slam. I hardly see how Monica's stabbing knocks Graf out(to be replaced by Court) though. Court never lost ONLY one match a year, as Navratilova did in 1983. And the year Marge lost only 2 matches(1964)many still rated Bueno #1 that year, because Court''s two defeats came at Wimbledon and the Us.

Just because Monica knocked Steffi out of #1 doesn't mean Graf wouldn't have gotten it back from a healthy Seles. After all, Steffi always lead their head to head, and Navratilova lost the #1 to Evert and got it back, just as Court lost the #1 to Bueno and King and got it back. See a pattern?

Court earns a place at the table. Putting her at the head of the class is less certain IMO. She'll have to fight some others for the honor:)

BTW-as far as SURFACE dominance, Chris Evert has to be the modern leader. Her 125 straight on clay will stand perhaps forever, and may be unmatched on any surface.

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:22 PM
Agreed Rollo re: Chris Evert. Thanks for pointing that out fellow Evert fan! I think in the modern era, Martina won 6 grandslams in a row, and in 1983 lkost only 1 matchg and in 1984 only lost 2 matches. That's 3 matches lost over 2 years....INCREDIBLE.

I think Steffi only lost 2 matches in 1987 (both to Martina in the finals of Wimbeldon & the USO ...DOH!!!), and she won the grandslam the next year. Irma, how many matches did Steffi drop in her grandslam year?

Monica was also pretty dominant the 1991-92 season.

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:28 PM
It's hard to "confine" it to the modern era for me, ball change, because the more we know from ALL the past, the easier it is to compare.

Take Monica. Now, it seems to me that Monica and fans fixate too much on the slams Monica "lost" and Steffi "won" from the stabbing. But to me 4 slams here or there at this level isn't as big as having a complete or dominant record. The real shame for me regarding Seles wasn't a few more French or hard court slams for her, but that it robbed her of a real shot at Wimbledon. Only Wimbledon stopped Monica from complete dominance in 1991 and 1992, but it's too short a time span to say for certain she WOULD have won it. It's like saying if Graf had been stabbed in 1990 after winning the Aussie. Would we have assumed she would win every slamn after? Hardly.

So while Monica was dominant, she remains something of a question mark, like Mo Connolly. Mo had good timing to get her slams quick-but her injury ended her career with 9 straight slams and a big "what if?" hanging over it. The difference is Mo got her 4 slams and Seles has yet to add the missing one. IF Monica starts winning slams again(and especially Wimbledon)she could move "up" but I'd guess she will stay a "what if" with Connolly. Some may rank either one higher in some all-time top 10, but not #1.

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:30 PM
she lost 3 matches in 88 two against Gaby and 1 against Shriver in 89 she lost two, 1 against Gaby and 1 against ASV

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:31 PM
Rollo, I think that gogetter has craftily worded this topic "the most dominant" rather than the best of all time. I gather he/she means who dominated the rest of the pack for a period rather than who is the best ever. I understand Lenglan lost only one match in her career or something equally amazing, but unfortunately, I'm not equipped to argue their case as I don't know much about players before 1975....:)

Feb 14th, 2002, 10:35 PM
yeah this thread was about domination that`s why I started about Lenglen, no matter if her opponents smoked she won everything so she dominated!

Feb 14th, 2002, 11:10 PM

Suzanne ROCKED.

Some of Suzanne's oppenents smoked, while La Diva Lenglen sipped suger coated cognac on changeovers.
In those days there were no chairs on changeovers, you were expected to move your butt, and the only break was a 10 minute one between sets 2 and 3.

Lenglen is easily the MOST dominant by games. She won whole events by 60 games to zip(5 straight 6-0 6-0 matches)a few times in her career. From 1919 to 1926 she was undefeated except the only time she went to America, in 1921. She DID lose several times before World War One, when she was aged 14 and 15.

Every dominant player is helped by luck. The war destroyed years of time for most of Lenglen's rivals, who were busy surviving while she hit thousands of balls daily in the South of France.
The other thing is ALL of her mathces were on clay except Wimbledon and the one Us trip in 1921.

So in 1919 all the women Suzanne's age were years behind. Her rivals were all at least 8 years older. Given faster courts and younger, harder hitting women, one has to think she would have had more competition.

Pics of her:


Style-wise, she was a master. She was known to have served less than 10 double faults in her CAREER. Her control was so good she could often hit coins laid out on a court. Suzanne's #1 rule still holds true today-The worst sin in tennis is to hit it in the net. Hitting long, there is always a chance the other person will hit it or won't call it out.

Feb 15th, 2002, 12:17 AM
Rollo, thanks for the link about Suzanne! :)

Feb 15th, 2002, 12:18 AM
Jenny Fan, not only did they smoke, but Suzanne would sip cognac during changeovers.

Feb 15th, 2002, 12:43 AM
If we mean winning percenatges, it's definitely Maureen Connolly (she won all the slams she entered since the first she won)
Yes, read it again: ALL THE SLAMS SHE ENTERED!!!
And she was then knocked out by an accident and soon after that, by a cancer strictly connected to the same accident.

If we talk about winning with wide margin, maybe that was Suzanne Lenglen.

But all who say competition is indirectly proportioned to times are perfectly right, in my opinion.

Think of what Venus Williams has reached so far.
Now think that it's 1/6 of what Steffi Graf had before her thirties.
Now i don't think Venus can be placed above Graf, but 1/6 of her???
More competition, that's all.

And that's why, in modern times, i'd easily go for Steffi Graf.
22 slams one generation after the 18 of Navra/Evert and 2 after the 24 of Court is simply unreachable.

And the head to head with Monica was never in Seles' favour, Volcana.
The opposite, instead.

Feb 15th, 2002, 12:53 AM
of course,
.bounce: was meant to be written :b......., not .b........, in order to appear like this:


Feb 15th, 2002, 01:12 AM
:( at Steffi in 1988.

She lost two matches to Gaby ? :)

If only those two matches had been at the Olympics and US open :(

Didn't she have some ridiculous winning streak at the start of 1989 ? (only to have been ended by Gaby again I think ?).

Feb 15th, 2002, 02:51 AM
navratilova's 74 match winning streak was followed by a 56 winning streak. SO thats something like 130-1.

6 consecutive slams...

104 matches in a row in doubles..

Its a pretty safe bet on whos the most dominant in open era...

navratilova has 3 of the top 5 winning streaks of all time... Its a pretty easy call on open era - Navratilova.

Pre open era I agree there is room for debate.

Sam L
Feb 15th, 2002, 02:52 AM
Most have been mentioned, but only rollo has mentioned the great Helen Wills Moody!

She won her first and last grand slam by a gap of 15 years! She won 19 grand slams from the 22 she played in (reached the finals in all of them). Between 1927-1932 she won all the majors without dropping a set! :eek: She never won the Australian Championships but only because she never played there.

How's that for dominance?

Feb 15th, 2002, 03:02 AM

Wonderful post on Margaret Court. I know a lot of people have turned against Marg based on her personal views, and I have to admit that I am dissapointed in some aspects of her beliefs. However, on a purely tennis level, she has to rank as an all time great - and right up there towards the very pinnacle.

I never saw her play live, but watching a number of her matches on tape is enough to convince me that she was indeed one incredible player. Despite playing with wooden rackets for most of her career, she could generate tremendous pace and had such an incredible reach and court coverage.

It was only her nerves that occasionally let her down. Despite interrupting her career to have children (twice), she has left no doubt in my mind that she is one of the all time greatest players to have played this wonderful sport of ours.

Feb 15th, 2002, 03:19 AM
Martina Navratilova in '83 and '84 was on another level from her competition. She has my vote for DOMINATRIX. The '88 model Graf was close.

Feb 15th, 2002, 05:59 AM
I had to sneak Chris in somehow Ballchange;)

Well put Tennisvideos. Volcana did us a favor IMO by mentioning Court, because too often we have a bias for those we "know" or have an attachment too. You better live to be old Videos, cause when I get the money to go to Oz I'm paying you and your collection a visit!:)

I need to correct you Way(sorry:sad: ) While Connolly won the LAST 9 slams she entered, she lost early as a kid in both the 1949 and 1950 US Nationals. I'm not 100% sure about 1949, but I am about 1950. It's a widely reported error that Mo never lost in a slam. Only Lottie Dod managed a perfect slam record.

If matches won/lost in a year are the decider, then I have to agree with Czechfan-Martina wins the "moderns" with her 1 defeat in 1983:)

Of course Graf, Court, and Connolly have the only grand slams-another way of looking at it.

More Lenglen stats:

Won 81 titles in 10 seasons.

After her shocking defeat until her retirement, she won 171 consecutive singles matches, second only to Helen Wills.

She won 8 events in her career without losing a single GAME.

Helen Wills wasn't as dominant in giving up games-but try winning a set from her! From 1927 to 1933 she NEVER lost a set!
I'm trying to determine her match streak, but it beats Lenglen's.
Lenglen made a special point of teaching the girl who finally beat Wills how to do it.

The last woman to go unbeaten in a year was Alice Marble-who after losing in 1938 never lost again as an amateur from 1938 to 1940. After 1940 Martina Navartilova is as close as we've come to perfection in one year.

Feb 15th, 2002, 01:56 PM
thanks for the specification.
But i remembered that she lost two slams "before" her streak, that's why i wrote "every slam she entered AFTER THE FIRST SHE WON"

And, anyway, i think we can agree on her absolute dominance whatsoever. (and wahtever the "figures" are)

Whcih takes me to the "Navra" issue.
Taken for granted that she was an extraordinary player, that choosing her is surely appropriate whatever the chart is about, that her game has remained unequalled and so forth and so on...........stiil i don't agree for the upteenth time.
In the eighties it was or her or Chris.
Difficult to talk about dominance.
She has an edge of 43-37, if i'm getting it right.
This is no dominance at all.
And the "partials" talk of a "clear" edge of Martina on Chris on both hard and grass, but of a "clearer" edge of Chris on Martina on clay, again if my memory serves me well.
You can't talk about dominance.
And streaks were mainly due to the fact that they accurately avoided each other.

Graf, or Connolly, or Lenglen, haven't got a player against whom they have a losing record on a specific surface.
(they really have no losing record anyhow)
That's dominance.

Feb 15th, 2002, 02:14 PM
much as i like chris more than martina
but at one point of their career, chris was actually leading 23-5!!!
so martina was 38-14 after that
pretty dominating

Feb 15th, 2002, 02:26 PM
I need to read more carefully Way-sorry again!

Mo was dominant as they come-losing only 4 matchs in 3 years at the top.:bounce:

Feb 15th, 2002, 04:07 PM
To answer part 2 of the question, I think Venus is the leading candidate. She is playing more this year and if she continues to do so, and stays healthy, she can certainly dominate women's tennis. She is so young and has already won 4 GS, I do not see why she cannot rack up a few good Graf/Navrat years (winning at least 3 GS per.)

Feb 15th, 2002, 06:21 PM
I think Martina N. was the most dominate player ever. However the competition is more tougher now, no Chris and Martina in the finals all the time.
Venus has the chance to do so if she stays healthy. Everyone else can still win , but they won't dominate.

Feb 15th, 2002, 08:41 PM
Martina had that unbeaten streak but people used to pray to stay on court against steffi for more than and hour:eek:

Feb 15th, 2002, 09:00 PM
No problem, Rollo.
Debating is my target, not being right.

Easy >>>> a strange way to be on Evert side: if she was 23-5, wahy do yuo think Martina was dominating because of the second half of their matchups?
Wouldn't you rather think that Evert was dominating in the first?

Monica_Rules >>>>> Veeeeery true!!!
People tend to forget when talking of dominance, that period!!!
In 88 and 89 Graf played against the watch!
Nobody i remember "live" (from 1970 on, that is) has even approached that.

Feb 15th, 2002, 11:44 PM
I'm still struggling with the definition of DOMINANCE :confused:

Could it be:

Overall dominance throughout a persons career, taking into consideration their ups and downs...... therefore how long were they the best in their entire career..... or

Comparing the dominant periods of players at their best. For example:

Martina was untouchable during a period in the 80's. Though it took her a while to get there. Players were intimidated with her strength.
Chris in late 70's - The Ice Maiden coolly disssected anyone during this time. This period of dominant was as good as any. With no one playing the French or Aus Open for a time her stats would have been better.....
Steffi in the late 80's early 90's.... Players were scared...
Monica afterwards...... Dislike and frustration at times, because she was so tough.

It is very hard to distinguish between these great players at their best


Domination over a period of time (an overall picture) ?????

(Thinking as I am typing!!!!!)
Chris was overtaken by Martina and even for a time, Austin. Martina overtaken by Steffi
Steffi overtaken by Monica, but regain thru Monicas stabbing.
Monica career interruppted.

Wills Moody, Lenglen, Connelley never relinquished their crowns to anyone.

Court was never overtaken by anyone, tho had great matches with King and Bueno. Her career was interupted with boredom 1stly because she tennis wasn't challenging her, and then marriage and children.

So I maybe leaning to the likes of Court, Lenglen ect.... if you want to take the 'overall' definition of dominance!!!!

Some may say that the competition may be tougher in the open era, but I don't really buy that!!! In all era's even the 90's the early rnds were cakewalks. As for the challengers..... seriously in all eras the dominating players only had a couple of serious challengers at one time...

During dominating times.......
Steffi - Martina, Gaby b4 succumbing to Seles
Chris (in 70's) - BJK, Wade, Martina, b4 succumbing to Tracy and regaining, then Martina.
Martina - Chris, maybe Hana b4 succumbing to Steffi
Margaret - Bueno, Hard then BJK
Connolley - Hart, Brough
Wills Moody - Jacobs
Lenglen - Mallory, Lambert
Pity Wills and Lenglen didn't get meet more often than once!!!

I thought Monica had more challengers than anyone. She had Martina, Steffi, Gaby and then Capriati gunning after her. But things were cut short!!! so we'll never know.

So (if anyone can understand my ravings), depending on your definition:

Overall dominance over an extended period of time: possibly Court.

Or a particular short period - Can't pick between any of the above. Each small period was devastating!!!

However if my two definitions are wrong in the first place then this post was USELESS!!!

:rolleyes: :D :) ;) :p :eek: :confused: :bounce: :kiss:

Feb 16th, 2002, 04:55 AM
For the Open era, Martina, of course, since she is simply the best.

Alice Marble for the amateur days, for her amazing undefeated record between 1938 and 1940, when she won 100+ matches, staying undefeated from Wimbledon 1938 till she turned pro in late-1940.

Feb 16th, 2002, 05:31 AM
Way-in the 80's Martina used to get the "watch" treatment too- crowds would clap hard when someone extended her past one hour.

Feb 16th, 2002, 05:45 AM
Every player that was mentioned was the most dominate in their era, but that does not mean Martina N is necessarily great than Court, Moody or Connolly at their most dominant.

Now as for Venus gogetter I think your are wrong that she is not committed or has desire to be the best in the game. If anyone has tremendous potential to be dominant it's Venus.

Feb 16th, 2002, 06:07 AM
Jakeev- I guess only time will tell. I do agree Venus has tremendous potential. I question whether she can carry through to get enough commitment to the sport. With comments like "I get bored very easily...", I just don't see it happening.

Also, I hope you never prove me wrong. Although it's very impressive to have dominant players, I think it makes for boring tennis for me as a fan. It's right now when it's most interesting, because there's more jockeying for the top position among 3 or 4 women.

Feb 16th, 2002, 02:19 PM
Louloubelle >>>>> your post is useless? Are you kidding?
Straight to the point, clear and circumstanced.
I agree with you.
Difficult to define dominance.
It's a matter of opinions, in the end.
My sensation is that nobody has ever dominated as Steffi Graf, but opinions are all respectable, especially when well explained.

Rollo >>>>> i don't remember any "martina-against-the-watch" times.
But i trust you.
Surely not when she met Chris or Tracy, anyhow.
Chris-Martina matches were ALWAYS open, whatever the surface, whatever the edges they had on clay (the latter) and on grass (the first)
Who saw those matches was never sure who would win.
Hard to call it dominance

Zummi >>>>> Your explanation of Martina's dominance is the best i've ever heard.
Quite convincing.
"Simply the best".....too funny!!!

Feb 16th, 2002, 04:46 PM
When Martina beat Evert in the 1983 Us Open final the crowd cheered when Chris took Martina to one hour. The match was over a few minutes later. (it was 6-1 6-3 or 6-3 6-1 ?)

Bright Red
Feb 16th, 2002, 07:01 PM
Deep in my heart, I feel it's Martina Navratilova. She epitomizes women's tennis IMHO.

Feb 16th, 2002, 08:09 PM
I don't remember that, Rollo.
(i mean, the crowd reaction, I do remember the final, even though not that vivid a memory)
What i claim again is that i never ever had the impression (and, trust me, nobody back there had) that when meeting Evert, Navra would have had a walk in the park.

I have to say, instead, that i finally have a good reason to understand why there's a Navra school in the alltime greatest debate.
And that's what BrightRed said.
Yes, i think you're right, man!
Under this perspective, (not a minor one, nonetheless), Navratilova has actually more cards than most of the others.
Only King would be in this category up there with her.
Surely no Graf or Connolly.
Maybe Lenglen, but too "unorthodox".
The epitome of tennis.
Clever statement, really.

Feb 16th, 2002, 08:14 PM
Oh gogetter don't get me wrong I do like the variety the women's game has today.

But if anyone has THE game to beat everybody week end and out it really is Venus.

Bright Red
Feb 16th, 2002, 09:23 PM
Thanks, way. Martina N. does have more cards than the others.