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Discussion Starter #1
Defining 'Greatness' in tennis is tough. 100 years of tennis. Differnet eras. Different equipment.<br />If you look at it by GS singles record, there's an obvious cut-off.

Any player with 15 or more GS singles wins is definitely one of the greatest in history.<br />Only five players have done it.

Court, Graf, Moody, Navratilova, Evert

Fans of BJK have a case that she should be included. Thing is, her greatness as a social pioneer actually outshines what is easily the sixth best career in the history of women's tennis. She's the most important figure inthe history of women's tennis. But can I reasonbly compare her singles career to Chris Evert's?<br /> <br />Fans of Connolly and Seles may claim, with considerable justification, that had they not had their careers cut short by tragedy, they would have easily met this standard.<br />Possibly true, but we'll never know. And six more GS titles would be a lot.

OTOH, given the depth of today's tour, 15 is an impossibly high bar. (Venus, for example, would have to win 2 GS titles a year for the next 6 years). Maybe 10 is more reasonable. But at ten, the Connolly/Seles 'career-cut-short' arguement has more weight.

Who needs the grief? I say 15, and I'll do 3 chapters on BJK in the forthcoming book. (One for her career, one for 'Battle of the Sexes II', one for 'Galimony'.)

So? What say you? Granting that measuring players purely by GS record is inherently self-limiting, how's 10 as a 'greatness' standard? Too low? Is 15 too high?
 

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'Nostalgic' topics will always stir up talk of how Monica was robbed of what could have made her one of the legendary greats if not 'greater than the greats'... well... but I guess maybe grand slams alone shouldn't be the only criteria for judging what constitues a 'great'... if u ask me, I would still put Monica as one of the greats cos she did bring women's tennis to a new height when she entered the tour... <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Monica's easily one of the ten best women ever to pick up a racquet. And that's given her actual record.
 

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Grand slam performance is possibly the most important factor in measuring greatness, but DEFINITELY should not be the ONLY factor considered.

I think its better to think of the qualities that should be included in measuring greatness, then looking at their performance in grand slams and on tour in general to measure those qualities.

The qualities I think should be included include:

Level of DOminance over an extended period.<br />Consistency<br />Longevity<br />Impact on the game<br />Statistics
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Czechfan - I agree that GS singles performance shouldn't be the only measure. BUt I feel the measures should be quantititative.

'Consistency' and 'Impact on the game' are subjective. How do I measure 'impact on the game'? If I use it, I HAVE to include BJK. And I HAVE to include Helen Wills Moody. And I HAVE to include Martina Nav. Their respective impacts on the game in their era was so great.

So that means I leave out Graf or Court. No way. And Evert's stillout in the cold.

What would YOUR choices be? I promise, no flaming.

Then again, I set it up to be difficult.
 

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True Czech fan-but you'll find that the "golden five"<br />Volcana lists have all the criteria you included. The only person REALLY hurt by the 15 bar is Suzanne Lenglen, who was more than King, and was way more dominant.

One thing those 5 have is the completeness of their records. King is hurt by the fact she won the French only once, but at least she won it. Monica Seles is clearly among the best of all-time, but her lack of a Wimbledon win. Great as King and Seles are, they are a level below the big 5 and a level above those with 5 or more slams.

I don't see why someone can't come along in the future to get to 15. Talk of how much more "competitive" the game is today is just that-talk. It's a recycled argument I heard BEFORE Evert, Martina, and Graf got their 15. Some years the slams are evenly split, others see one or two dominate. Venus and Hingis are both young enough to make a run at lot of slams, or some new phenom may come along in a year or so.
 

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I agree with Rollo about the 'talk' about todays depth etc...

If someone is good enough, they can still win 15 or moe grand slams over their career...

Impact on the game is subjective, no argument, but consistency can be measured...

Just look at Chris Everts results, for consistency noone has a better record over a longer period..

Volcana - i think that you cant avoid subjectivity coming into a greatness debate, simply because people weight things differently..

For example - Even if everyone agreed on the qualiites Ive listed as the factors that should be considered in a greatness debate, different people might weight one more than the other, Imight think that longevity means MORE than level of dominance...etc etc...you cant avoid subjectivity coming into it...

Having said that, my Top 5 would be:

1) Martina Navratilova<br />2) Steffi Graf<br />3) Chris Evert<br />4) Court<br />5) Moody<br />6) BJK<br />7) Seles

I wont ever forget the impact the stabing had on history...

If Steffi had the same record without any 'help', she'd be # 1 no question...

Anyway, some people will agree with that, some people wont and thats fine...
 

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Volcana-

Why would taking into account "impact on the game" hurt Evert, Graf, or Court, not to mention Lenglen?

Evert's impact.

1. Uh-try Chrissie was the first female to rise to #1 with a 2 handed backhand. Before Chris, Jimmy, and Borg it wasn't popular. In 1975 Evert was the ONLY female in the top 10 with a two hander. In 2001, Henin is the only top 1o female WITHOUT one.

2. Chrissie was far away the top attraction from the mid 70's til Navratilova could pull in crowds. Evert was so influential she changed the tour calender. <br />Examples:

From 1976 to 78 the French Open only had 2 of the top 10 playing. The red clay events for women were so pathetic only 50 spectators watched the women's final in Rome in 1978. The women were skipping the clay for World Team Tennis. The French was in danger of losing slam status. Evert's decision to pull out of World Team tennis led to it folding. It was Chris who lead the women back to European clay in 1979, Martina avoided the clay til 1981. Evert, and Evert alone, helped build the European clay circuit for women as we know it today.

Evert skipped the early indoor events from 1980. By 1983 the indoor circuit had collapsed, replaced by a mix of indoor and outdoor events. Guess where a lot of these were played? Florida-Evert's home state. Evert's popularity helped create that huge event called "the Lipton" in 1984, with Evert endorsing Lipton iced tea.

In 1981 the women threatened to boycott the US Open and stage a separate event at the Meadowlands(indoors). I'll let Billie Jean King<br />tell it:

"Better than 75 percent of the WTA wanted to make the move, but Chris stuck by the USTA, and Tracy(Austin) followed her lead. Without those two, we would have been crazy to make the move, and we didn't , even though we had a network deal set.."

<br />Finally, it was Evert who started a lot of the crossover sex appeal with big endorsements for female athletes. First female athlete to host Saturday Night live. Proof that women athletes could still be thought of as feminine. Evert was the <br />second celebrity(after King) for the women's game, and the first that the public embraced. To quote BJK's book(page 184), "she's the best star tennis ever had". All that adds up to a hell of an impact.

Court is often forgotten because she was quiet, but <br />she shouldn't be. Like Martina, she forced the women of her time to be more athletic. "The Arm"<br />was the first female tennis champ to weight train, she even endorsed Princess Barbells, which were weights for women. More importantly, it was Court who made the Aussie a legit slam event for women. Before Court, it was wasn't considered necessary for the women to go to Australia.

After Court became the #1 in 1962, the Aussie press made her the first tennis heroine the nation ever had. She demanded respect and control over her own career, rather than being controlled like a little girl. After Court it became ok to fund potential women champs. Without Court, who knows if we would have seen Goolagong? No longer were the women treated as a minor local event in Australia.<br />Court made the women big league Down Under.

Americans dominated women's tennis from the 1930's to 1960. Margaret Court and Maria Bueno were the first non-American champs in decades, inspiring women around to take up the game. Look at the year the Fed Cup started. 1963. Why? Because before then only the USA would ahve won every year. But starting in 1963, Australia had potential winners with Court.

<br />I'll let others consider Steffi's impact, since a few posters can still remember her. Suely though, it was Steffi who made women's tennis in Europe what it is today. I fin dit hard to imagine the Wta finals being held this year in Munich without the impact of Steffi Graf.

<img src="cool.gif" border="0">
 

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Rollo - I dont think Steffi had very much impact on the game of tennis Europe.

Forgive me, but wasnt European tennis in pretty good shape BEFORE Steffi came along??

Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, Helena Sukova, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez, were all players who were involved with tennis before Steffi hit the top.

She may have done wonders for German tennis, but I wouldnt say European tennis...

And the fact that they held the WTA champs in Munich is not a reflection on Steffi's impact in the game IMO..

Anyway, the tournament drew lots of criticism for empty crowds, and most people beleive it should have been kept in NYC...

Just my opinion..

BTW - Great post on Everts impact, I was tempted to 'go there', but was too busy at the time!!! <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 

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The woman with the biggest impact on the game, other than King, is Suzanne Lenglen. Her appeal was so strong that crowds lined up to see her destroy the other woman. She lost only one match from 1919 to 1926, but rather than get bored with this the public adored the less than beautiful Lenglen, who one friend called " uglier than a totem <br />than a totem pole, but so fascinating to watch that one soon forgot this. The Frenchwoman shocked <br />tennis fans by showing wearing short skirts and sipping brandy between changeovers. The suggestion of sin and liberation she represented brought out crowds to cheer for and against the diva.<br />Today's center court at Wimbledon was built in 1922 because fans overwhelmed the old stadium, which only seated 8,000. People waited for hours in lines, called "Lenglens-trail-a-winding".

Her 1926 match vs. Helen Wills is called the "match of the century", and the only meeting of these two titans. As many slams as Wills won, she never had the impact Lenglen did. After Suzanne retired in 1926, women's tennis in Europe once again became "third class" except in England and the US. Crowds DID become bored with the dominance of Helen Wills. The women were often<br />booted off center court in France or put on very late(one final was played so close to dark only 250 remained to see the end) after Lenglen retired. When Suzanne was in a tournamnet, the promotors were so grateful she was paid "under the table"( a <br />female first), selected her start times, and often <br />even the chair umpires. Suzanne was the first female to turn pro(1926).

As for her ability, most experts rate the diva right up there with Graf and Wills. Legend has it Suzanne was so accurate she could hit a dime. She was a one of kind star.

Vive la Lenglen! <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 

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Czechfan-

I didn't mean that without Steffi the other<br />Euro players wouldn't have developed. I WAS suggesting she took women's tennis in Europe to a whole new level of success.

As my earlier post indicated, Evert lead the women back to Europe. But not until Graf came along (and then Seles) did the women begin to really catch on in popularity. Go to <a href="http://www.tenniscorner.net" target="_blank">www.tenniscorner.net</a> Take a look at at the tour events in 1985. You'll see it was dominated by American events. The German Open<br />wasn't a success attendence-wise until Graf. The 1981 final drew 1,500 spectators. When Graf played Martina in 1986 the place was packed. Hamburg and Leipzig were created in large part <br />because of Graf. The first Wta event in Hamburg in<br />1987 drew 45,000, and Steffi was the only top ten female entered besides Kohde. That's better attendence than many WTA tournaments today.

After Evert retired and Navratilova played less, American events started drifting to Europe. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Why are so many WTA events in Germany? Why so few before Graf? Coincidence again? C'mon.

I agree the Munich final had poor attendence, but the conditions that led to the event moving out of the US to start with were years in the making. Until the very recent period of US dominance, the very best women have been European(Graf,Seles, Sanchez,Hingis). The move to Europe wasn't made overnight.

All I'm saying is the money(and events) tends to drift to the talent. The success of Sanchez made Madrid more attractive to sponsors. Nice wasn't loaned out this year to Stockholm, it's going to Brussels, home nation of Henin and Clijsters.

The effects of Graf and Becker are still with tennis. Coming at the same time, they had double the impact possible if only one had succeeded. When Steffi started the tour in the mid 80's over 70% of the prize mony was in America. Not today. I'd say Steffi has at least SOMETHING to do with that.
 

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I agree that major championships are very important; however, I feel that Billie Jean King should be considered one of the best of all time. I know she didn't win as many slams as Court, Evert, Wills, Graf and Navratilova, but if she wasn't soooo involved in trying to get the women's game off the ground she could have concentrated more on her game and won more slams. She only entered the Australian open 3 times during her prime and was banned from the French Open during some of her prime. Chris Evert didn't beat Billie Jean in a grand slam until 1977 when billie was past her prime. Billie had a 12 to 8 advantage over Margaret Court from 1966(when billie came into herself) till Court retired. Navratilova didn't beat king until 1978. If you look at the U.S.Open and Wimbledon which was considered the most important MAJORS during that time, Billie Jean(10) won more than Margaret Court(8) and Chris Evert(9) and is just one behind Graf(11). If you read any of the legends Bios or listen to their comments, Chris, Margaret, Virginia Wade, Navratilova, Evonne Goolagong, they all say that Billie was the most difficult player to play during their times. I consider Martina Navratilova the best of all time because of her record, but I think Billie Jean King could have won just as many. Most of the critics have said that if they had to pick one player to play in a pressure situation they would pick King.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Rollo - Look at your own posts. WHo had GREATER 'impact on the game', King, Court or Lenglen? It would be very difficult to find agreement.

Czechfan - I really wish there was a way to credit Monica for a few more GS titles without having to subtract them from Arantxa or Steffi or somebody. Say Monica would have won 3 GS titles that Steffi did instead, and one that ASV won. Then the alltime list would look like

24 Court<br />19 Wills Moody<br />19 Graf<br />18 Navratilova<br />18 Evert<br />13 Seles<br />12 King

Kinda would change the 'greatest of all time' arguement, wouldn't it? It would basically be between Court and Navratilova. Steffi wouldn't have enough singles titles to really challenge Margaret. Martina can, because her doubles and mixed record is the only one that can challenge Court. (Hmmm .. what's BJK's mixed and doubles record?)
 

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I don't know Volcana-I wasn't arguing for one or another, just giving some of ladies credit for "impact".

Good points Macn-King was great at handling pressure and by missing the Aussie in 1972 passed up a shot at the Grand slam. But King still fails the test that Vovcana's "big five" pass, namely, the ability to win on all surfaces. Her one French was <br />won without Evert entered, which was good for King, because she NEVER beat Chris on clay. King wasn't banned in 1973-when Evert and Court showed. The only year she was banned was 1974,<br />when she had no plans to play anyhow.
 

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Rollo, you stated that Chris Evert was the major attraction on the european clay courts which in my opinion states that the competition wasn't that great during that time. Billie Jean didn't play the clay courts that often; however, when she did she won every major championship on clay. You stated that Billie won the French without Evert and I can also make the point that Chris won her first Wimbledon without playing her two greatest rivals during that time Evonne and Billie Jean. Billie never beat Chris on clay and Chris didn't beat Billie on grass during Billie's prime. I take nothing away from the ladies who won all their majors and I give them full credit for their achievements; however, I still feel that Margaret and Steffi won a lot of slams without their greatest rivals. Navratilova and Chris had each other and had to split their grand slam victories. Imagine if Chris didn't have Martina and vice versa, the list would be different.
 

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I'll credit King at least sticking to the French til she won it, but 1 one at the French on her weakest surface doesn't measure up to 3 Wimbledons for Evert on grass or 2 Frences for Martina.

Court's Aussie wins don't amount to much IMO, but if you subtract ALL 11 of her Aussie slams, she still has more than King, by 13 to 11. That's about right I think, because while Court isn't THAT much greater than BJK, there's was a difference. Court was 22-10 lifetime vs. King. Don't forget too, King had her greatest successes in 1967 and 1972, the only years she won multiple slams. It's no coincidence that in these years Court was retired, first by choice, then by pregnancy. Court won 3 of 4 slams in 1973, when pregnancy retired her a third time.

PS. Evert's 129 match streak on clay was against plenty of competition, including Goolagong, Navratilova, Richey(who usually killed King on clay) and King herself, 6-0 6-1. I do believe Evert wouldn't be as famous today had the US Open stayed on grass,- she had a tough time on fast surfaces. Of course Navratilova or King wouldn't have as many slams either if surfaces were switched. They had the BIG advantage of grass being the surface in 3 of 4 slams.
 

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Margaret has a 22-13 lifetime edge over king (margaret loves to brag about that, but fails to mention that Billie beat her more often from 1966 till her retirement) where most of those victories came in 1962 to 1965 where King was just a part time player and hadn't gone to Australia to get her game together. Billie Jean had the edge over Margaret 12 to 8 from 1966 to 1973. Billie Jean won the Australian and Wimbledon in 1968 beating Margaret in the aforementioned. Billie also beat Margaret in the 1972 U.S. Open semifinals. Billie started to dominate Margaret which may have helped Margaret with her decision to quit the game during that time. I admit that Margaret came back with a fury and dominated in 1969, 1970 and 1973. Margaret and Billie played on different circuits and didn't get to play each other as often as Martina and Chris did. I also note that Chris is the greatest clay court player of all time and one of the greatest on grass in my opinion. You stated that Chris had plenty of competition during her clay court winning streak, but I don't consider Goolagong was good on the clay but not great and Navratilova wasn't the player she was in the 80's. I'm not trying to take anything away from Chris and that great record, but I still feel that the competition wasn't as great during that streak. Chris didn't start beating Nancy Richey regularly until Nancy was past her prime(i think chris leads 6-5 head to head)
 

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I think Steffi made the race.

She won GrSls in different times and nearly every year of her career. She faced different strong opponents on different surfaces: Monica, Arantxa and Hingis on clay; Chris E., Jennifer and Lindsay on hard court; Navratilova, Sabatini and Novotna on grass; she knew how to play and beat them.

So her ability of changing her game through her career was the key. e.g.: Wasn't Martina H. shocked by this terrrific and aggressive backhand slice ?

<br />Steffi's still the best of all above. <img src="graemlins/angel.gif" border="0" alt="[Angel]" />
 

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King was much better after 1965, but 12-8 after 1966 isn't such a big gap in King's favor.<br />Some of those wins (like the 1968 Aussie) were when Court was coming back after over a year of retirement(King herself said after the Aussie final in<br />68 that "Margaret is still finding her tennis legs". Ditto for the 72 US Open semi, when Court was returning after having a child. King won the 71 Us Open, plus the 72 French and Wimbledon in Margaret's absence.

As for Evert-Richey certainly did give her fits, winning the first 5 or 6 matches, but the lifetime was in Evert's favor, including a dramatic 1975 match where Chris survived match points to keep her clay streak alive. Evert still managed win French Opens even when Martina N was at her best.
 

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Volcana, giving Monica 3 from Steffi and 1 from Arantxa is being tremendously generous to both those players. At the pace she was piling up Slams, she would likely have had 13 by the end of 94.
 
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