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I agree that Steffi Graf is ONE of the greatest female tennis players ever (with Navratilova, Evert, Seles , Court, King). However, she was one player that had the benefit of playing mostly in an era where there was relatively little competition. Stages of her career:

1. Early Career: Her competition was an aging Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Of course she would beat these tennis greats that were well past their prime.

2. Early 90s: Seles dominated Graf. She was simply a better player than Steffi in the early 90s and owned the Grand Slams and women's tennis.

3. Mid 90s: Seles was stabbed, leaving Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario as Steffi's primary competition. Steffi won most of her titles during this time.

4. Late 90s: The power era of tennis was a bit much for Steffi, which is why she retired. It became a requirement for players to have a strong forehand AND backhand, which Steffi never possessed.
 

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So how did she manage to win the second largest amount of slams in history-even if it was inflated by you know what?

Besides, she did it over a stretch of 12 years, so we aren't talking a 2 or 3 year weak gap. Your points sound reasonable when broken down, but 12 years of "weak" competition is a hard argument to maintain.

And you DO realize of course by saying that her competion was weak [other than Seles] says that Monica's competiton was weak as well. Like it or not-they're linked. To diminish one is to diminish the other.

As for this:
4. Late 90s: The power era of tennis was a bit much for Steffi, which is why she retired. It became a requirement for players to have a strong forehand AND backhand, which Steffi never possessed.
She DID win a slam in the 1999. And in her last year on tour she beat ALL the big hitters despite being an old borad at 30.

Had she retired after, say, losing to Schnyder at the US Open in 1998 I might buy this argument, but she retired pretty close to the top.

IMO it's just as easy to say Evert or Navratilova faced weak competition.
 

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Early 90s: Seles dominated Graf.??? :lol:
SELES held a 1-3 record against Graf 91,92, including a 6-1,6-2 defeat
but, I know, the stab stop seles' improving, seles's afterward actions fully proved that. :tape:
 

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bssdl said:
Early 90s: SELES held a 1-3 record against Graf 91,92, :tape:
But in the years when Seles was 16, 17, 18 and 19 years of age --- those years 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 --- Seles had the winning record vs. Graf when Graf was in her 20s for the most part.

Of course, if you are desperate enough to want to go back to years when Seles was just 15 .... then, that just adds to the overall weakness of your argument.

Graf had a losing 3-7 record against Navratilova at the same age Seles was when she was stabbed. In fact, Graf never .... she NEVER .... had a winning record vs. Navratilova for her career. Navratilova had a singles career of essentially 20 years ... she never had a losing record in her career vs. Graf ... and Graf only had those 2 or 3 years in the late 1980s with a better record head to head vs. Navratilova ... Navratilova had the edge early in their rivalry ... Graf had those 2 or 3 good years ... then, in the 1990s when Navratilova was in her mid to upper 30s Navratilova had the edge in 1990-1993 until Graf got that one last win in during 1994 to draw herself even with Navratilova finally.
 

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Steffi was great but she really had no competition with some exceptions of course. During her reign esp early on there was no such thing as depth in womens tennis.
 

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FACT is that when Graf won more than 1 GS tournament a year the competition was at a low point: 1988, 1989, 1995, 1996. And the last 2 years wouldn't have been a more than 1 GS win year without the stabbing anyway.

bssdl: Learn to count, then come back - or stay away.
 

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Great thread! I agree with the theory! Graf was a great player, but benefited from weaker competition than Court, King, Navratilova and Evert!
 

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macn said:
Great thread! I agree with the theory! Graf was a great player, but benefited from weaker competition than Court, King, Navratilova and Evert!
Ah, back on topic, and a post that isn't dripping with hate and insult. How refreshing!

I have often times remarked that Martina Navratilova didn't have a contemporary, world-class attacking player during glory years in the mid-80s. The fact that Helena Sukova raised her level of attack to near world-class level and prevented Martina from possibly achieving the Grand Slam in 1984 (by making her hit passing shots) speaks volumes. The more I think about it though, Martina danced with who she brung. A player can't pretend to have control over draws or competition, and what Martina did accomplish 1983-84 is astounding, to say the least. The thing I always admired the most about Steffi Graf is that she always wanted to be pushed as hard as possible, to the point where if she didn't get it, she became visibly annoyed and quite often bored. How many champions can you say that about? Every top five of all-time player has had patches, seasons, and even entire years where the competition wasn't that great, and everyone knew when they entered a major, they'd be there holding the trophy after the final. I'm confused as to why these majors shouldn't count in the grand scheme of things. Are we to go through with a fine tooth comb and weed out the weak years and only count the ones that featured matches with stiff competition? Are the asterisk police really out there, gathering momentum outside the doors of the libraries and universities and everywhere your record book wants to be?
 

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Netgames and Robert -you haven't answered my question. If competition was so weak from 1988-89 and 1993 on-how was it "strong" in Monica's heydey just with the addition of Graf?

Well?

I DO agree that Steffi had some very good luck in facing an aging Navratilova and Evert in 1988-that's probably the strongest of your 4 arguments.

1988 was a golden opportunity-and she took advantage of it.

But then what champion didn't have any luck?
 

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Not this old chestnut again....and some people who should know better I see couldn't resist biting!
LOL-I'm guilty! But it also offers points of comparison.

MACN-how was Court's, Evert's, King's, and Navratilova's competition stronger?
I could make arguemtns that all 4 of them faced "weak competition".
 

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The same argument can be made for Navratilova, Evert, Seles, Hingis, and Serena Williams. All of them had periods when it got to a point that they'd be entered in a GS singles event and would be expected to win (and they would!) just like Graf. And it's sad to say, but like Graf, all of them have had "weak" competition - yes, Graf did benefit more than the others, imo, but that's just her good luck/ bad luck, depending on which angle you look at things from.
 

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Age might slow footspeed and reflexes and it might cause motivation to wane. But it also gives you a wisdom not yet afforded to younger players. Steffi could still take that sice backhand and make the bigger girls bend low and have to hit up on their shots. That was a very effective weapon against the Davenports and Williamses of the world. I think the only thing that the greats really ever lost in their latter years was their consistency - not their ability to play top notch tennis.

Steffi didn't get knocked out of the game by anyone. She was still doing some knocking of her own in her last year on tour. She missed a lot of court time between spring of 1997 and spring of 1999. She had to build her game and her ranking back up and managed to do so very nicely against the power players. She went out as a French Open champ and a Wimbledon r/u. Injuries and getting close to Andre are probably the only two real influences on her decision to give it up.

Martina was still a top player in 1994. Martina beat both Steffi and Monica in 1993. And there was no shame in doing so. If Martina had been mentally and emotionally committed, she could've played past 1994. Heck, she's still a top doubles player at age 49.

Chris might've been blown out by Steffi at Wimbledon in her last year. But earlier that spring she gave Steffi all she could handle on a neutral hard court. Then, of course, came the 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Seles in her last tournament.

And for me, watching Billie Jean in the 80's is almost more fun than watching her when she was on top. The reason being that the "Old Lady" could still put together such smart tennis to outwit and outplay her younger opponents. She beat Martina when she was 37, beat Tracy (and darn near Chris) at Wimbledon '82, and was even a Wimbledon SF in '83.

I don't think anyone had to show any of these ladies the door. As Sipsy in "Fried Green Tomatoes" upon Ruth's death said, "A lady always knows when to leave."
 

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I don't think anyone had to show any of these ladies the door. As Sipsy in "Fried Green Tomatoes" upon Ruth's death said, "A lady always knows when to leave."
Don't you just LOVE that book? Another southern favorite of mine is "Cold , Sasy, Tree".

Returning to topic, HanafanGA I think your point about Graf's abilities in 1999 are spot on. There's some true to Netgames first post IMO, but the last point about being "driven oout of the game" is the weakest of the 4 points.
 

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My gosh, Court and King had to compete against Bueno, Hard, Susman, Lesley Turner, Ann hayden, Angela Mortimer, Jan Lehane, Nancy Richey, Christine Truman, Durr, Casals, Melville, Wade, Judy Tegart, Julie Heldman, Helga Masthoff and when Evert and Goolagong came along strong in the 70's Court and King had to compete against them. When Navratilova came along strong she had to compete against the likes of Court, King, Evert, Goolagong, Casals, Wade, Durr, Reid, Richey, Morozova. after 1975, throw in Barker, Fromholtz, Stove, Austin, Shriver, Jaeger, Hanika, Mandikova, Sukova, Kathy Jordan and Turnbull. After 1982, I believe that the competition wasn't as strong and that's when Graf came along competing against Evert, Mandlikova, Navratilova, Sabatini, Sanchez and Seles. When Seles was on Graf barely won a major; however, when Seles went out in 93, Graf took control in the majors. I will say that Graf was able to compete well against the likes of Davenport, Venus, Serena, Hingis and some more; however, both venus and Serena hadn't reached their stride! The main competition Graf had during her reign was Seles, Sanchez and Sabatini, Seles is the only player I can put in the league of Court, King, Evert, Navratilova, Bueno and Graf. All the women had each other to compete against where Graf only had the ones I mentioned and they are not in that league. Again, when Graf's main rival was playing (seles) Graf won less!


Rollo said:
LOL-I'm guilty! But it also offers points of comparison.


MACN-how was Court's, Evert's, King's, and Navratilova's competition stronger?
I could make arguemtns that all 4 of them faced "weak competition".
 

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Posted by Hingis-Seles The same argument can be made for Navratilova, Evert, Seles, Hingis, and Serena Williams. All of them had periods when it got to a point that they'd be entered in a GS singles event and would be expected to win (and they would!) just like Graf.
Exactly.

Peak Navratilova's domination (82-86) was over an older Evert-with Austin AWOL and Jaeger dropping out, and Hana often injured.

Evert got going in 1974 with Margaret Court absent, King aging, and Navratilova not in shape. Then Goolagong got pregnant/injured. Tracy leaving the game gave her a whole second wind as seconf fiddle during the 80s.

Give me a name and I can give you a list.

The bottom line is most of the champions had very good luck. Even the champions with "bad" luck (Pauline Betz, Mo Connolly, Althea Gibson, and Seles) had favorable circumstances to some extent.
 

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Rollo: In Monica's heyday were Graf, Sanchez, Sabatini, Capriati and Navratilova. And all of them played at least in their good form or were in their heydays as well. None of them was really bad performing from 1990 to mid 1993, you know.

We had those discussions before: the early 80s and the early 90s had a great depth, so I don't know why you are asking us this question.

Navratilova had a weak competition in mid 83 to mid 85.
 

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netgames said:
I agree that Steffi Graf is ONE of the greatest female tennis players ever (with Navratilova, Evert, Seles , Court, King). However, she was one player that had the benefit of playing mostly in an era where there was relatively little competition. Stages of her career:

1. Early Career: Her competition was an aging Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Of course she would beat these tennis greats that were well past their prime. ....

I agree. Navratilova was shite in the late 80ies losing always to Graf (100 % of matches in 88-89). After all those demoralizing losses Martina became younger again, though, beating Monica in more than 40 % of matches in the next 4 years.

Evert is comparable, lost to Graf in 8 consecutive matches between April 86 and July 89. But then Chris had a late surge beating Monica (who would win a slam 9 months later!) 6-0 6-2 at US Open.

It was as always:
Graf profited bigtime from her opponents being to old, slumping, being injured, not having matured yet, being stabbed, being booed by the crowd an so on. :mad:
But Monica had to fight top notch opposition all the time. :worship:
 

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I'll answer MACN first-

Lets deal with Billie Jean . Yes, overall, she had tougher competition earlier and later in her career-but in the midddle (the bulk of her slams) WHEN SHE WON her main competition was often absent.

When was her first slam? Oh yes-1966, when a certain someone "retired" and an injured Bueno (never to in another slam after 1966) was the Wimbledon finalist.

Court totally absent in 1967, and coming back in 1968 account for more King slams -and in 1969 and 1970 Billie Jean won how many slams with a healthy Court around?

King won 4 slams in 1971-again with Court absent. And she had the added advantage of almost all the big clay courters like Evert being absent from her ONLY French.

BJK's slams from 1973-75 are just awesome-I'll give you that.

King had a certain amount of bad luck (not being able to afford going to Australia), but she played most of her slams of her favorite surface-grass.

But she managed only 1 year with 3 slams with Court absent. Jones won the exact number of slams Sanchez did. I'll grant you Wade and Richey were a bit tougher than the likes of Sabatini and Martinez and Novotna.

Not THAT much tougher though.

As for Court-yes-I'd say overall she had MUCH tougher comepetition compared to Steffi as a whole, but she also had the luxury of playing a slam at home with larley local and weakened fields, as you've pointed out yourself on occasion.
 
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