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Old Nov 19th, 2013, 08:46 PM   #16
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

There are different ways to look at longevity. Serena though has stretched out for periods of time of winning slams and being the best player in the World a much longer time than any modern day champion atleast. Evert has an amazing record of very consistent longeivity. Evert who started on top in 74 was never the best player in the World again after 81, and couldn't ever win another Wimbledon or U.S Open after 81 (as you say the big 2 events by a large margin back then) either. Her last ever year winning 2 slams was 82.

I would say Open Era I consider only Court close. I would probably rate in longevity of Open Era GOATs:

1. Serena
2. Court
3. Graf or Evert
5. Navratilova- I know she played at a high level until her mid 30s in singles, but she still won 15 of her 18 slams and all her 9 non Wimbledons squeezed into a 5 year period. She won only 2 slams before 25, and only 1 slam after 30.

If you were talking about the most longevity of just good tennis and being an active player Navratilova could be #1, and if you were talking about longevity of extremely good tennis than Evert could be #1, but if you are talking about longevity of great tennis or being the best in the World that would be Serena.


It is true peak level play is subjective. But that seems to be the greatest consensus amongst all experts, including really old ones who were around in the Connolly days. That peak for peak, even considering chronological advances, Serena is the best. They don't always favor the modern day champion either. Up until Serena many were still saying that was Connolly, even after surveying Graf and Navratilova at their peak.
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Old Nov 19th, 2013, 11:38 PM   #17
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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Wimbledon or U.S Open after 81 (as you say the big 2 events by a large margin back then) either.
Do never say that to a French.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 12:47 AM   #18
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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Originally Posted by rollingraces View Post

It is true peak level play is subjective. But that seems to be the greatest consensus amongst all experts, including really old ones who were around in the Connolly days.
You sound like a newbie tennis journalist or mercenary puff piece writer who really doesn't know anything about tennis, past or present, who is trying to concoct some sort of article about that won't make you seem totally out of your depth.

The "experts" are, by and large, poor judges and unreliable narrators. Most of them are, just as you seem to be, ignorant of large swathes of tennis history yet simultaneously gripped by astonishingly ardent opinions. The "experts" are always trying to sell the current game, no matter the era, because the current game is the thing that puts money in their pockets. In all types of media, you do not bite the hand that feeds you, so-called "freedom of the press" or not. What are they gonna say? That Serena and her rivals du jour look big and grunt loud, but if you watch them play with the sound muted and just watch the ball and watch them move without the sound effects they're really not that impressive? And, more importantly, not that entertaining?

Because that what this really comes down to. There is no greatest of all time. There isn't even a pantheon of "greatest" players. Tennis is entertainment. And what is entertaining to one person is not necessarily entertaining to another, or what we might find entertaining at one age or in one setting doesn't hold up later on or against other options. The GOAT debate is not helping tennis; it just reinforces the general consensus among casual sports fans that tennis is a neurotic sport with neurotic fans. Maybe some people in positions of influence in the game think that the GOAT debate is the only way to generate or keep interest in the game. ("A dying race, ruled by a dying emperor, imprisoned within themselves in a dying land.") They are wrong.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 01:43 AM   #19
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

Serena certainly belongs in the GOAT discussion, but she falls short in a couple arenas.

Granted, tour conditions are not the same today as they were when Evert and Navratilova were playing, but Serena's lack of titles outside of grandslams shows how truly inconsistent she is. I don't care how much playing on hardcourts affects a player's health...Look at the number of matches in their careers...Navratilova played SO many more (plus think how many doubles matches she played!).

Serena simply did not care enough in the middle of her career to match Navratilova, Evert and Graf in the consistency arena. Sure she was plagued by injuries and had some horrible things happen to her, but everyone can make those arguments. Plus Serena's injuries seem to be directly correlated to her fitness levels.

She also has some inexplicable losses. I question whether the tour is that much deeper now than when Graf played. Certainly Kimiko Date has made me look twice...as has players who were past their peak but had continued success (Francesca Schiavone, Tamarine Tanasugarn, etc). Even this year, Serena lost to Sloane and Sabine. I am trying to think who you could compare those losses to for Evert/Nav generation and Graf generation. Suffice to say that Navratilova and Graf rarely had those types of losses, and Evert almost NEVER had those types of losses.

That being said, Serena's game is definitely good enough to make her a top, if not THE top player in any head to head matchup. That serve is scary good and she has truly developed a much better court sense as she aged past her teens and early 20s.

One thing is for certain: Serena is the BEST player of her generation...and IMO, that is the ultimate a player can do. There is no true GOAT, so simply being the best out of the competition you were faced with is all that can be done. Serena did that.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 03:22 AM   #20
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

Thank you for the great discussion on this thread. I thought that my feelings on the issue would be matched by some and opposed strongly by others. I've always been a statistical nut and have recently spent a lot of time studying the databases on the 1950s. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the last 60 years of the game.

Obviously, this a subjective matter. Serena has definitely entered the discussion of the GOAT category. Had her career ended a year ago, I wouldn't have thought she had the credentials. Serena's highs are higher than most, yet her lows are are lower than some others in the discussion.

IMO, pre-1940's tennis was such a different animal that it's hard to compare what Wills Moody and Lenglen did with those later. Though they have to be on the short list.

Connolly, Smith Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf, and Serena would each merit discussion IMO.

I really don't have a set order of the above. My list would be different on different days. Depends on criteria.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 03:32 AM   #21
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

Also, I would say that Serena's long periods of inactivity have probably enhanced her longevity. She has remained hungry and has had times to stay fresh and avoid burn-out. We might not have seen the best of her yet.

I do want to say that Evert gets a lack of respect in the discussion. She was unfortunate to have dominated tennis in a period in which the Aussie and French tournaments were considered lesser events. She would've almost certainly won the 3 French Opens she skipped while on her long clay win streak. Also, not playing the Aussie between 1974 and 1981 hurts. Surely, she could've found a way to win 2-3 of those (though Evonne and Martina would've been tough opponents if everyone played). Evert is hurt by her lack of a physical domination on the court. She also had the losing h2h with Martina 43-37. However, I'm getting ready to do a study of tournaments won in which those two played. I'll bet Evert leads that stat. Why? Martina defeated Chris in many tournaments where she was #1 and Evert was #2. But during the first 5 years of their rivalry, Evert won many events where Martina was ranked lower and never made the final.

Just want Chrissie to get her due. I usually say that Martina was the GOAT. I never saw a more imposing figure on the court than the Navratilova of 1982-1986.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 07:36 AM   #22
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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Originally Posted by Joseosu19 View Post
She also has some inexplicable losses. I question whether the tour is that much deeper now than when Graf played. Certainly Kimiko Date has made me look twice...as has players who were past their peak but had continued success (Francesca Schiavone, Tamarine Tanasugarn, etc). Even this year, Serena lost to Sloane and Sabine. I am trying to think who you could compare those losses to for Evert/Nav generation and Graf generation. Suffice to say that Navratilova and Graf rarely had those types of losses, and Evert almost NEVER had those types of losses.
You can't say that seriously. Players often say that you can't compare different eras of tennis and they're right. You will never convince me that the tour in the Evert-Navratilova days wasn't easier than it is today, and that it wasn't easier to Evert or Navratilova to be more consistent than it is for Serena today. At some point I just think it's a matter of tennis fans defending the eras they love. I love every era of tennis but let's be serious. As if Sloane Stephens and Sabine Lisicki weren't players you can lose to? Let's ask this: who were the Stephens and Lisicki in those days? There wasn't any. Not the same power. It was easier for Evert to be consistent against talented players who hadn't the power to give her trouble. It was just a matter of keeping focus and control for Evert. Errani would have been the Evert of the seventies. And it was easier to Evert to stay out of injury, too. Consistency today demands much more athleticism and physical force. No wonder there are so much injured players on the tour these days.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 08:09 AM   #23
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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Originally Posted by preacherfan View Post
Also, I would say that Serena's long periods of inactivity have probably enhanced her longevity. She has remained hungry and has had times to stay fresh and avoid burn-out. We might not have seen the best of her yet.

I do want to say that Evert gets a lack of respect in the discussion. She was unfortunate to have dominated tennis in a period in which the Aussie and French tournaments were considered lesser events. She would've almost certainly won the 3 French Opens she skipped while on her long clay win streak. Also, not playing the Aussie between 1974 and 1981 hurts. Surely, she could've found a way to win 2-3 of those (though Evonne and Martina would've been tough opponents if everyone played). Evert is hurt by her lack of a physical domination on the court. She also had the losing h2h with Martina 43-37. However, I'm getting ready to do a study of tournaments won in which those two played. I'll bet Evert leads that stat. Why? Martina defeated Chris in many tournaments where she was #1 and Evert was #2. But during the first 5 years of their rivalry, Evert won many events where Martina was ranked lower and never made the final.

Just want Chrissie to get her due. I usually say that Martina was the GOAT. I never saw a more imposing figure on the court than the Navratilova of 1982-1986.
It would really interesting to see your statistical analysis Preacherfan. I agree that Chris's numbers would stack up well against anyone's.

Even though I am an ardent Chris fan, I would give the edge to Martina for 4 reasons:

1. The H2H edge doesn't bother me so much. As you say Martina got a lot more chances to play Chris at her peak, and not the other way around. The biggest difference here is Martina's dominence indoors, otherwise there isn't a lot in it. The big psychological factor here is the 13 consecutive wins Martina had in 83-84. Some of those scores in 83 were brutal. To give Chris her due, she certainly did not quit, and managed a way to still score some good wins against Martina from 85. A couple of those wins after 85 were pretty lopsided too.

2. The 74 match winning streak. Still un beaten today. Martina was just miles ahead of anyone in 83/84, in a way that Chris never was, even though she was very dominant for much of the 70s.

3. Martina's 6 GS consecutive GS titles. Even if Chris had played all the GS in her prime, I'm not sure that she would have been able to achieve the same.

4. Martina's ability to compete and win against Graf, Seles, and Sabatini well past her prime. Martina's athleticism and attacking style enabled her to do this. Though Chris's speed, power, and athleticism are often underrated, her main strengths are mental.

I wholly agree that I haven't seen anyone as dominant as Martina.

Without igniting the boring old flame wars, I think that Monica is also someone that I watched and at times could not believe how phenomenally well she could play in her prime.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 08:12 AM   #24
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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Originally Posted by Hugues Daniel View Post
Errani would have been the Evert of the seventies.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I well and truly lost interest after this.

If anyone has any doubts about the quality of 70s tennis, I would urge them to try and get a copy of the 74 US Open F between King and Goolagong, and the 79 Eastbourne Final between Evert & Navratilova, still two of the best matches I have ever seen.

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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 08:36 AM   #25
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I well and truly lost interest after this.

If anyone has any doubts about the quality of 70s tennis, I would urge them to try and get a copy of the 74 US Open F between King and Goolagong, and the 79 Eastbourne Final between Evert & Navratilova, still two of the best matches I have ever seen.
I LOVE the tennis of the 70's. But I just don't get why those who love the tennis of that decade (or any other) just can't admit the power of the game has evolved since? How is it offending to the great players of the past? I'm pretty convinced they also share my view. And also that you seem to underrate Sara Errani, who is by no mean mediocre, is a great player. If you're shocked by my comparison, I'm shocked that you're offended by this comparison.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 10:54 AM   #26
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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It would really interesting to see your statistical analysis Preacherfan. I agree that Chris's numbers would stack up well against anyone's.

Even though I am an ardent Chris fan, I would give the edge to Martina for 4 reasons:

1. The H2H edge doesn't bother me so much. As you say Martina got a lot more chances to play Chris at her peak, and not the other way around. The biggest difference here is Martina's dominence indoors, otherwise there isn't a lot in it. The big psychological factor here is the 13 consecutive wins Martina had in 83-84. Some of those scores in 83 were brutal. To give Chris her due, she certainly did not quit, and managed a way to still score some good wins against Martina from 85. A couple of those wins after 85 were pretty lopsided too.

2. The 74 match winning streak. Still un beaten today. Martina was just miles ahead of anyone in 83/84, in a way that Chris never was, even though she was very dominant for much of the 70s.

3. Martina's 6 GS consecutive GS titles. Even if Chris had played all the GS in her prime, I'm not sure that she would have been able to achieve the same.

4. Martina's ability to compete and win against Graf, Seles, and Sabatini well past her prime. Martina's athleticism and attacking style enabled her to do this. Though Chris's speed, power, and athleticism are often underrated, her main strengths are mental.

I wholly agree that I haven't seen anyone as dominant as Martina.

Without igniting the boring old flame wars, I think that Monica is also someone that I watched and at times could not believe how phenomenally well she could play in her prime.
Agreed. Good points. Also, agreed about Monica. Unfortunately for her, her legacy would have been more Connolly-like had she never come back. She just was never the same great player. In her prime, she hit angled passing shots unlike anything I've ever seen.

And though Martina isn't mentioned in the best serve ever category, hers might have been the most effective ever because her opponent knew that she was going to blanket the net after every good serve with the most dominant net presence ever.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 12:53 PM   #27
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

It's interesting to read the different points of view in this thread! I think Serena is, as someone say, in the pantheon of the greatest players ever, but she has some weak points in her resume as all other top players do. What I don't really suscribe is that her peak is better than anyone's peak. She is GREAT when playing her best, but Navratilova and Graf were GREAT too, and I don't think that Serena`s power would be sooo much a factor if they all played with today's rackets: after all, Martina and Steffi hit it pretty hard with older technology, and as I said before, I see no reason why people so gifted to play tennis could not dominate a racket technology and adapt their games to that when so many inferior active players have.
I agree Serena looks more dominant now than ever and that helps her in this discussion, but also last few year's competition and field is one of the technically weakest in decades. And come on, no one could really compare Errani to Evert! Don't forget another factor for Serena's winning on different venues: the surfaces are not as different before, when clay was worlds apart from grass and you had different carpets and hardcourts and a Nº1 player had to excel on every of them. I don't see Serena winning so much against top clay courters on a regular old time clay court (even Sharapova won once and reached another final at the French for God's sake!. In that light, MN's 2 French are biggesto to me than Serena's, because of the surface and BECAUSE OF Chris Evert as a rival!
Also, Serena has won a lot of Slams, but only recently is improving her record at YEC, where only the top compete and that makes it a prestigious title, and has won way too few titles overall for a player of her status and with such a long career at the top: Seles, with all what she had to endure, won almost as many, or Hingis in a much shorter span. And Serena only sporadically has dominated week after week on the Tour, as a clear GOAT should have.
So, she may be 3 or 4, but not the GOAT yet, IMHO.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 12:56 PM   #28
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

Quote:
Posted by preacherfan I do want to say that Evert gets a lack of respect in the discussion.
I think so too. If we gave points to longevity and consistency she comes out on top. She made the semis of every slam she played until 1987. That's incredible.

To my mind what hurts Chris (and Serena to a lesser extent) is the lack of 3 slams in one year. Serena has done it only once. Evert's best shot was in 1980, when she won 2 slams and then didn't show for the Australian Open.

Stack that up against those who won slams and it gets tough.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 01:03 PM   #29
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

Posted by Hugues Daniel
Quote:
I LOVE the tennis of the 70's. But I just don't get why those who love the tennis of that decade (or any other) just can't admit the power of the game has evolved since? How is it offending to the great players of the past? I'm pretty convinced they also share my view. And also that you seem to underrate Sara Errani, who is by no mean mediocre, is a great player. If you're shocked by my comparison, I'm shocked that you're offended by this comparison.
hi Hugues.

My reaction to thatg would be I CAN admit the game is more powerful now than in the 70s and 80s. Heck, watch tapes of Borg and Connors and we can see Errani (to use your example) hits harder now.

Does that mean if we beamed Borg forward and gave him a modern racquet he would lose to Serena? Of course not.

Tracy Austin and John Mcenroe have both said they hit their serves harder now than they did in their prime.

With those things in mind I can confess the game today is a lot more powerful. Does that make it "better" or "worse" that the wood era? Nah.

What I love about the old era is the variety. Venus would have served and volleyed at Wimbledon a la King. Thrilling as some of today's tennis is-the hard courts have killed a lot of the entertainment value.

But that's another discussion.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 01:10 PM   #30
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Re: Serena as GOAT???

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I think so too. If we gave points to longevity and consistency she comes out on top. She made the semis of every slam she played until 1987. That's incredible.
Rollo - you and I must be the only ones that have completely erased Chris's 3rd Rd loss to Kathy Jordan @ Wimbledon 83 from history.

If we say it enought times, it will become fact!
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