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I just read the WTA article about Serena Williams' place in history, and I got baffled: do only Slam wins count to be considered the GOAT or similar descriptions? I understand WTA's need to sell current game no matter if it implies to betray their old times faves, but so many people especially young people, would no stop to see through that and will probably get engulfed in the bias towards current players and the Slams count. I personally think that as much as Slams count, you have to take a lot of other facts into consideration: how could Serena, even with her remarkable career in Slams and losing very few finals at that level, be such a strong contender to be the GOAT in many people's view nowadays, with less than 700 career wins compared to other top players over 1,000, and havind already lost more matches than Graf; or how her 65 titles compare to Martina's or Evert's; or her number of weeks on the top of the rankings are still a long shot from Navratilova's or Graf's, among other stats. With all due respect to Serena's achievements (how much does she own to the weak era where she belongs I don't know, which is not her fault but still helps; just think that the second best player of her generation, Sharapova, last beat her in 2004 :eek:), and even if I consider her one of the very best players ever, I think that people tend to give too much relevance to the Slams count and forget to consider much of the picture, IMHO, what do you think?
 

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I think there is more to a legacy than total number of slams won. You also have weeks at number one, total titles achieved, year end top 10, career matches won. The list goes on.

ETA: Ill write up a detailed analysis on this.
 

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I just read the WTA article about Serena Williams' place in history, and I got baffled: do only Slam wins count to be considered the GOAT or similar descriptions? I understand WTA's need to sell current game no matter if it implies to betray their old times faves, but so many people especially young people, would no stop to see through that and will probably get engulfed in the bias towards current players and the Slams count.
The most hilarious thing about the WTA's Slam-GOAT fixation is that they are belittling their own tournaments and tour, even their relatively recent concept of Premier Mandatory events. The Slams aren't WTA "property." The WTA and The Slams/ITF/national tennis federations have often been at odds over the decades. Yet now they say, in essence, "Hey, fans and sponsors and players, our own tour events are meaningless! But please care about them and support them!" The message is too contradictory, especially for new fans and/or new markets. It shouldn't surprise anyone if the regular tour events struggle.

The other hilarious thing is that Navratilova and Evert, in their capacities as media mavens and WTA officers/grey eminences, have had a hand in cultivating the Slams-Only bias*, even though they themselves played in a time when it was more complex than that. They have (and have had for quite a while) some power to influence public perceptions and the current WTA away from the Slams-Only bias, but they have not. And now it comes back to bite their own GOAT-statures in the buttocks.

*Unless you are Margaret Smith Court.
 

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The most hilarious thing about the WTA's Slam-GOAT fixation is that they are belittling their own tournaments and tour, even their relatively recent concept of Premier Mandatory events. The Slams aren't WTA "property." The WTA and The Slams/ITF/national tennis federations have often been at odds over the decades. Yet now they say, in essence, "Hey, fans and sponsors and players, our own tour events are meaningless! But please care about them and support them!" The message is too contradictory, especially for new fans and/or new markets. It shouldn't surprise anyone if the regular tour events struggle.

The other hilarious thing is that Navratilova and Evert, in their capacities as media mavens and WTA officers/grey eminences, have had a hand in cultivating the Slams-Only bias*, even though they themselves played in a time when it was more complex than that. They have (and have had for quite a while) some power to influence public perceptions and the current WTA away from the Slams-Only bias, but they have not. And now it comes back to bite their own GOAT-statures in the buttocks.

*Unless you are Margaret Smith Court.
You and your wacky conspiracy theories :haha:
 

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I just read the WTA article about Serena Williams' place in history, and I got baffled: do only Slam wins count to be considered the GOAT or similar descriptions? I understand WTA's need to sell current game no matter if it implies to betray their old times faves, but so many people especially young people, would no stop to see through that and will probably get engulfed in the bias towards current players and the Slams count. I personally think that as much as Slams count, you have to take a lot of other facts into consideration: how could Serena, even with her remarkable career in Slams and losing very few finals at that level, be such a strong contender to be the GOAT in many people's view nowadays, with less than 700 career wins compared to other top players over 1,000, and havind already lost more matches than Graf; or how her 65 titles compare to Martina's or Evert's; or her number of weeks on the top of the rankings are still a long shot from Navratilova's or Graf's, among other stats. With all due respect to Serena's achievements (how much does she own to the weak era where she belongs I don't know, which is not her fault but still helps; just think that the second best player of her generation, Sharapova, last beat her in 2004 :eek:), and even if I consider her one of the very best players ever, I think that people tend to give too much relevance to the Slams count and forget to consider much of the picture, IMHO, what do you think?
I think the answer is pretty simple, isn't it?

Times change. More importance is given to slams since the 90s since that's what players concentrate on. That wasn't the case back in the 70s where Chris Evert might've skipped Australian and French Opens to play WTT. But nobody does that now. Nobody skips slams since the 90s.

I remember in the late 80s even some players didn't come to Australia because "it was too far". :lol:

More money, more prestige is attached to slams and therefore, that's what players concentrate their efforts on. That's also why Serena had a year like 2009 where she won barely anything outside of the slams.

Given that most of tennis is now played on hardcourts and with modern racquets, you also can't expect the very top players to be playing and winning 21 tournaments a year like Margaret Court did with wood racquets on grass. That will shorten their careers drastically.

If I'm a WTA player starting out right now, I would not concentrate on minor events. My schedule will be built around the slams for peak performance during those 8 weeks. Yes, that means my stats overall will be less than Chris/Martina/Margaret/Steffi. But that means:

1. I will give myself the best chance at where it matters -the slams
2. I will prolong my career but saving my tennis years.

Yes, right now, only slams matter, pretty much. But historically, no? That means two things:

1. You could say Serena is not automatically greater than Chris/Martina because she now has 1 more slam than them.

But also:

2. You could say Serena's other stats shouldn't be used to diminish her standing as a GOAT contender because she never went out to win the most tournaments, stay most weeks at no. 1 etc.. because it's not possible in this day and age.

That's the two sides of the coin.
 

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I think the answer is pretty simple, isn't it?

Times change. More importance is given to slams since the 90s since that's what players concentrate on. That wasn't the case back in the 70s where Chris Evert might've skipped Australian and French Opens to play WTT. But nobody does that now. Nobody skips slams since the 90s.

I remember in the late 80s even some players didn't come to Australia because "it was too far". :lol:

More money, more prestige is attached to slams and therefore, that's what players concentrate their efforts on. That's also why Serena had a year like 2009 where she won barely anything outside of the slams.

Given that most of tennis is now played on hardcourts and with modern racquets, you also can't expect the very top players to be playing and winning 21 tournaments a year like Margaret Court did with wood racquets on grass. That will shorten their careers drastically.

If I'm a WTA player starting out right now, I would not concentrate on minor events. My schedule will be built around the slams for peak performance during those 8 weeks. Yes, that means my stats overall will be less than Chris/Martina/Margaret/Steffi. But that means:

1. I will give myself the best chance at where it matters -the slams
2. I will prolong my career but saving my tennis years.

Yes, right now, only slams matter, pretty much. But historically, no? That means two things:

1. You could say Serena is not automatically greater than Chris/Martina because she now has 1 more slam than them.

But also:

2. You could say Serena's other stats shouldn't be used to diminish her standing as a GOAT contender because she never went out to win the most tournaments, stay most weeks at no. 1 etc.. because it's not possible in this day and age.

That's the two sides of the coin.
That's probably the best argument I've heard in this debate. I too have struggled with Serena's inconsistencies - long periods out of the game, lackluster play, early exits (esp. at major events). But there can be no arguing that she has not reached peaks that haven't been scaled before. Until Steffi's era, all the best players didn't play every Slam. Now, Slams are everything.

It's comparing apples and oranges. Each of the GOAT candidates has things that skew the statistics.

Court - 24 Slams - but 11 at mostly weak Aussie fields - but for most of those she was #1 in the world anyway

Graf - 22 Slams - hate to say it, but yes the stabbing had to give her at least some advantage

Wills Moody - 19 Slams - What if she had played the French every year and the Aussie ever?

Serena - 19 Slams - but only 4 years with a year end #1 ranking? - I know there are arguments against the system, but this shows her lack of consistency. Still, she keeps winning Slams.

Navratilova - 18 Slams - had to compete with another GOAT for her entire career - stretches of dominance that haven't been matched since

Evert - 18 Slams - Had to compete with other GOATs for entire career - 18 could easily be in the 20s - skipped French 3 times and missed many Aussies while #1 player - (plus her weeks at #1 are misleading - she was probably #1 for much of '74 and '75 before the first computer rankings were kept)

So, I've decided that this argument will never be settled until someone wins 35 Slams and puts everyone else in the dust.

There are a list of GOATs. I think you have to include Connolly and Lenglen in the mix.
 

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Evert - 18 Slams - Had to compete with other GOATs for entire career - 18 could easily be in the 20s - skipped French 3 times and missed many Aussies while #1 player - (plus her weeks at #1 are misleading - she was probably #1 for much of '74 and '75 before the first computer rankings were kept)

Most people rightfully mention that Evert skipped the French Open 1976-78, well inside the very years she was unbeaten on clay. But she also skipped the French Open in 1972, as she was finishing school I believe. Roland Garros was won that year by Billie Jean King, whom Evert had already thrashed on clay 6-1, 6-0 by that time (Nancy Richie would probably have been the favourite and had Chris's number on clay, but withdrew from the tournament). Evert also did well in Australia, a country where she had two grass-court wins over Navratilova (1981, 1982), not to mention her hard-court win in 1988, so you had to give her a couple there in the 1970s, I think.
 

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You and your wacky conspiracy theories :haha:
The "greatest of all time" arguments as a constant talking point did not really exist until Navratilova's 1983. There would be some offhand comments or articles, but most people, even Chris "I can't stand it when people compare someone to Helen Wills Moody or to Little Mo because the conditions are different, times are different, the competition is different" Evert of the day seemed to understand that, yes, everything was too different to make any kind of comparison. Lendl more or less started the "Slams are the ONLY tournaments that matter" philosophy in the mid-Eighties, once he started winning them. Before that, people really did think in terms of the overall year or even prize money. ("She's had a great two years," acknowledged Evert Lloyd when someone asked if it would be appropriate to consider Navratilova as one of the greatest women's tennis players of all time. "But that's really all she's had. Two great years. Before that, she had eight pretty average ones.") So, at least Evert should realize that "greatness" has been established by different criteria in the past, because she herself used to judge "greatness" by more than just the Slam count.

And it's also hilarious how in this Era of Only-Slams-Count, Margaret Smith Court's record is so often brushed off as being "padded" with amateur/shamateur era Slams (as if she could help when she played or that tennis wasn't open) or "padded" with weakly-contested AOs (not all of them were that flimsy), while failing to take into account just how much of her prime Court missed. She retired for the first time after Wim 1966 and was absent for all of 1967. (Hey, Billie Jean, how's it feel to win some Slams with a major competitor sitting out?) She was MIA again after Wim 1971 when she had a baby, didn't return until USO 1972, then proceeds to win three out of four Slams in 1973, then takes more time off to have another baby in 1974. (Hey, Chrissie, how's it feel to win some Slams with a major competitor sitting out?) And let's not forget that she was playing with her non-dominant hand. Court's woulda-coulda-shoulda is downright scary -- but she still gets little to no respect.
 

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That's probably the best argument I've heard in this debate. I too have struggled with Serena's inconsistencies - long periods out of the game, lackluster play, early exits (esp. at major events). But there can be no arguing that she has not reached peaks that haven't been scaled before. Until Steffi's era, all the best players didn't play every Slam. Now, Slams are everything.

It's comparing apples and oranges. Each of the GOAT candidates has things that skew the statistics.

Court - 24 Slams - but 11 at mostly weak Aussie fields - but for most of those she was #1 in the world anyway

Graf - 22 Slams - hate to say it, but yes the stabbing had to give her at least some advantage

Wills Moody - 19 Slams - What if she had played the French every year and the Aussie ever?

Serena - 19 Slams - but only 4 years with a year end #1 ranking? - I know there are arguments against the system, but this shows her lack of consistency. Still, she keeps winning Slams.

Navratilova - 18 Slams - had to compete with another GOAT for her entire career - stretches of dominance that haven't been matched since

Evert - 18 Slams - Had to compete with other GOATs for entire career - 18 could easily be in the 20s - skipped French 3 times and missed many Aussies while #1 player - (plus her weeks at #1 are misleading - she was probably #1 for much of '74 and '75 before the first computer rankings were kept)

So, I've decided that this argument will never be settled until someone wins 35 Slams and puts everyone else in the dust.

There are a list of GOATs. I think you have to include Connolly and Lenglen in the mix.
Oh come on, if somebody wins 35 slams, you'll just have their rivals cheering squads arguing that the number is 'inflated' or 'should have an asterisk beside it' due to something or other ;) That's why these GOAT discussions drive me crazy and I try to avoid them as much as possible.
 

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Scattered thoughts on these-all the posts so far make for great reading-a lot better than the food fights I see in GM.

Posted by Sam L I think the answer is pretty simple, isn't it?

Times change. More importance is given to slams since the 90s since that's what players concentrate on. That wasn't the case back in the 70s where Chris Evert might've skipped Australian and French Opens to play WTT. But nobody does that now. Nobody skips slams since the 90s.
Novotna was the last one in my memory-skipping the Aussie.

BTW SAM, your post ROCKED.

There are two sides of the coin with almost all of these GOAT talks.

Posted by Preacherfan There are a list of GOATs. I think you have to include Connolly and Lenglen in the mix.
Yes, Yes, Yes! Connolly because she won the Holy Grail in 1953-and her 9 consecutive slams entered.

Lenglen as she was so invincible.

Sumarokov-Elston Most people rightfully mention that Evert skipped the French Open 1976-78, well inside the very years she was unbeaten on clay. But she also skipped the French Open in 1972, as she was finishing school I believe. Roland Garros was won that year by Billie Jean King, whom Evert had already thrashed on clay 6-1, 6-0 by that time (Nancy Richie would probably have been the favourite and had Chris's number on clay, but withdrew from the tournament). Evert also did well in Australia, a country where she had two grass-court wins over Navratilova (1981, 1982), not to mention her hard-court win in 1988, so you had to give her a couple there in the 1970s, I think
I love Chrissie-she deserves space in the GOAT talk. But using Sam's "two sides of the coin theory", I will play devil's advocate. Evert's "extra" French slams in 1972 and from 1976 to 1978 (plus 4 let's say) could easily have been reduced if Tracy Austin played and won the French in 1979 and 1980.

And don't forget her #1 rival in 1976, Goolagong, got pregnant. In addition Evonne was barred from the French in 1974 was refused to enter it for many years after.


Posted by Mrs Anthropomorphic The "greatest of all time" arguments as a constant talking point did not really exist until Navratilova's 1983.
I disagree Mrs A. Looking at the literature and viewing old matches on TV it's always been around-what changed by the early 1980s was more media exposure due to television.

And now the Internet of course.

And it's also hilarious how in this Era of Only-Slams-Count, Margaret Smith Court's record is so often brushed off as being "padded" with amateur/shamateur era Slams (as if she could help when she played or that tennis wasn't open) or "padded" with weakly-contested AOs (not all of them were that flimsy), while failing to take into account just how much of her prime Court missed. She retired for the first time after Wim 1966 and was absent for all of 1967. (Hey, Billie Jean, how's it feel to win some Slams with a major competitor sitting out?) She was MIA again after Wim 1971 when she had a baby, didn't return until USO 1972, then proceeds to win three out of four Slams in 1973, then takes more time off to have another baby in 1974. (Hey, Chrissie, how's it feel to win some Slams with a major competitor sitting out?) And let's not forget that she was playing with her non-dominant hand. Court's woulda-coulda-shoulda is downright scary -- but she still gets little to no respect.
Preach on sister! The church of Margaret Court devotees says Amen (or should it be "baaaah"! to that!:)

If ONLY slams count you either count them or you don't-period.

You'd think Court beat a series of weekend scrubs or something. If win all 4 in one year a la Connolly, Court, and Graf you are in rare air.
 

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Anna4077Oh come on, if somebody wins 35 slams, you'll just have their rivals cheering squads arguing that the number is 'inflated' or 'should have an asterisk beside it' due to something or othe
Truer words were never posted!:worship:

Some other truths and predictions.....

The latest is always the greatest in the media or polls. Thus Serena>Steffi>Martina>Chris>Margaret>(who the hell was Margaret Court?)>some chick from the dark ages.

In 10 years some Chinese girl will pile up majors. Once she's at ten Serena will be old hat.

The Serena and Graf camps were chummy up to now-having a mutual rival in Navratilova. And funny how Martina and Monica fans are friendly. None of this is coincidental.

My prediction: Serena and Steffi fans get less friendly as Serena edges possibly closer to 22.....it is happening already.
 

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Posted by Preacherfan Serena - 19 Slams - but only 4 years with a year end #1 ranking? - I know there are arguments against the system, but this shows her lack of consistency. Still, she keeps winning Slams.
But why has she ended the year as #1 only 4 times?

Yes, she has been up and down and not as consistent for some of those years. But the reality is the "modern" (after 1996) ranking is flawed. It rewards losers who play tons of events over the likes of Serena Williams.

The 1997 ranking system would have given us Sanchez-Vicario in 1994-and
that's not horrible as she won 2 slams and beat Graf.

Then we would have Conchita Martinez as #1 in 1995. That's crazy IMO.

Since the 1997 rankings change we've had several slamless computer #1s.

2000-Hingis (old rankings would have Venus at #1)
2001-Davenport (Venus under divisor rankings)
2004-Davenport (Henin under divisor rankings)
2005-Davenport (Clijsters under divisor rankings)
2008-Jankovic (Serena under the divisor rankings)
2010-Wozniacki (Serena under the divisor rankings)
2011-Wozniacki (probably Kvitova)

Looking at things that way (6 years #1 using divisor rankings) she is suddenly a stronger candidate.
 

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Of course not (answer to the title question) BUT I have nonetheless observed something very special while following the WTA tour since 2013 (not missing any event, watching every stream available): some players manage to play better at slams, which are obviously the events to which you have to show your best (knowing your form is fluctuating, especially today, with the challenging strengths and athleticism required). It isn't question no more for a player, today, to win everything and dominate the tour outrageously. The top players want to peak at slams, because they know it will be hard. So it's at slams that the truth is revealed, regarding of who is the best. Slams now count more than they ever did, at least that's my observation. There is also more pressure around them today. I get the impression that in the sixties for instance, to win the French was nice, but not that prestigious. Today, it's an amazing effort to achieve, round after round. Which is more true again with the ATP.
 

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But why has she ended the year as #1 only 4 times?

Yes, she has been up and down and not as consistent for some of those years. But the reality is the "modern" (after 1996) ranking is flawed. It rewards losers who play tons of events over the likes of Serena Williams.

The 1997 ranking system would have given us Sanchez-Vicario in 1994-and
that's not horrible as she won 2 slams and beat Graf.

Then we would have Conchita Martinez as #1 in 1995. That's crazy IMO.

Since the 1997 rankings change we've had several slamless computer #1s.

2000-Hingis (old rankings would have Venus at #1)
2001-Davenport (Venus under divisor rankings)
2004-Davenport (Henin under divisor rankings)
2005-Davenport (Clijsters under divisor rankings)
2008-Jankovic (Serena under the divisor rankings)
2010-Wozniacki (Serena under the divisor rankings)
2011-Wozniacki (probably Kvitova)

Looking at things that way (6 years #1 using divisor rankings) she is suddenly a stronger candidate.
I agree with the rankings system issues. But with the exception of the Serena Slam year, Serena until the last 3 years hasn't been a start to finish #1. She has been far more inconsistent that the previous GOATs. Heck, even last year, until she won the USO, she didn't deserve #1 status for the year.

Again, not knocking Serena. She has done things differently, some by choice some by circumstance, but she has achieved greatness and deserves her status in the rare air.
 

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Evert - 18 Slams - Had to compete with other GOATs for entire career - 18 could easily be in the 20s - skipped French 3 times and missed many Aussies while #1 player - (plus her weeks at #1 are misleading - she was probably #1 for much of '74 and '75 before the first computer rankings were kept)

Most people rightfully mention that Evert skipped the French Open 1976-78, well inside the very years she was unbeaten on clay. But she also skipped the French Open in 1972, as she was finishing school I believe. Roland Garros was won that year by Billie Jean King, whom Evert had already thrashed on clay 6-1, 6-0 by that time (Nancy Richie would probably have been the favourite and had Chris's number on clay, but withdrew from the tournament). Evert also did well in Australia, a country where she had two grass-court wins over Navratilova (1981, 1982), not to mention her hard-court win in 1988, so you had to give her a couple there in the 1970s, I think.
I do think that slam count is overrated. Court did not play on the tour in 72 due to pregnancy. She did beat Evert in 73 FO final as a 31 year old mother. Court was the only player then who could compete against Evert on clay, especially in a slam final. Court chose to lose a year on tour to have her child, whereas King decided to have an abortion in order to win more tournaments. 72 was probably King's best year on tour, primarily due to the absence of Court. Court was out for most of 67 also, due to temporary retirement.
 

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Slams now count more than they ever did, at least that's my observation. There is also more pressure around them today. I get the impression that in the sixties for instance, to win the French was nice, but not that prestigious.
I've done a lot of reading about tennis in the pre-Open/early Open era. I don't know if the Slam necessarily count more than ever, it's just that they are all important (almost equally). Wimbledon was so far above the others in prestige that if you won Wimbledon, you were well on your way to year-end #1. Somebody really had to outperform you in the other events to bump you off (Court did that quite well at times). French and US Champs were definitely a notch below the Big W in prestige and often in quality of field. At times, the French had a better field than the US. The Aussie was a far step down in prestige because so many players chose not to make the long journey Down Under. Now, the tennis season has 4 majors that are elevated and points at which players want to perform at their best. Pre-80's it was not at all uncommon for several top players to only play a couple of Slam events (and that's not just during WTT's heyday).
 

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Court beat Evert in 73 FO final as a 31 year old mother. Court was the only player then who could compete against Evert on clay, especially in a slam final. .
Don't dis La Goolagong here, doll. She had TWO WINS over Evert on clay in 1973 and both were in straight sets. Not only that but she also had TWO LOVE SETS on clay over Chris that year. She was the last person to beat Evert on clay until Tracy Awesome pranced onto the scene at the end of the decade.


June 11 Italian Open, Rome. (Clay)
Defeated Evert (US) 7-6 6-0

Aug 6-12 Western, Cincinnati, Ohio, US (Clay)
Defeated Evert 6-2 7-5

April 16-22 St. Petersburg Masters, Florida, US. (Clay)
Lost to Evert 6-2 0-6 6-4

Back to the subject at hand, certainly tour events count but we all know that utmost importance is now placed on the slams, then Miami/Indian Wells hell month, then Tour Finale...theres a sharp curve down after that unfortunately. I miss the days when the Slims events had network coverage and even write ups in Sports Illustrated and one COVER!:D
(Evonne, of course, after her fab win over Evert to garner the then unknown number one ranking in spring 1976). Good times. It seems now the tour finales, Miami nor Indian Wells even get so much as a one sentence blip in SI.
 

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If ONLY slams count you either count them or you don't-period.
Precisely. If ONLY Slams count in the GOAT debate, then count 'em and there's your GOAT. But don't turn around and say "Well, you have to consider more than just the Slam count..." if the method gives you someone you didn't want as the GOAT. Likewise, to say that it's somehow not fair to expect modern-day WTA players to have sustained excellence is an insult to Roger Federer's career stats. The standards are still there.

This is not to say that Serena isn't on the "greatest players of all time" list; she was on it long before she reached #19. This is to say that weaker metrics should not be used just for the sake of marketing conveniences. There might come a day when the WTA really has 50 players of the Serena, Steffi, Martina caliber in terms of tennis skills, overall athleticism, and competitive determination, and then winning 5 Slams will be a huge accomplishment. But until then I will resist the attempts to dumb-down the history of the game.
 

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There was a time where slams didn't even exist, and their importance has grown over the last century. May Sutton, for instance, was arguably the best player of her generation (1900-1910), but won Wimbledon only twice. In the 50's, they weren't many to go to Australia to win the AO, if it ever was reckoned as a slam already? Connolly made the calendar grand slam in 1953, but didn't play the AO in 1954: why?

In the 80's (decade of my teenage years), I remember Borg never playing the AO... the Masters looked like a more important event in those times... How was it for the WTA? I know Navratilova and Evert played it regularly, though.

So to my view you have to count all the slams indeed, but not only, and put everything in perspective. It's not that electing THE GOAT is so serious anyway. We should only discuss it for the fun of it. :)
 
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