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Serena could potentially add to her clay-court accomplishments, but for the sake of this thread, let's just keep things as they are.

Even though clay has traditionally been Serena's weakest surface, she's achieved quite a lot of success on the surface over the years. She's performed truly admirably on the surface countless times and has beaten classic clay courters en route to massive titles. Now, if we're measuring clay-court greatness, where does Serena land in that conversation?
 

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Serena really turned good on clay after her comeback in 2011 (except 2012 RG of course). She really improved her slide, slice, and used top spin at the right time. To say she's not a good clay courter but just a good player doesn't give her enough credit. She was always greater than most of her opponents but still lost to Petrova, Safina, Srebotnik, Stosur, Schiavone, Schnyder etc on clay before.
 

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Well her resume is really solid: three French titles, four Romes, two Madrids, and two Charlestons (from the Tier I era).

Greatness-wise, I'd say a toss-up between Serena, Sanchez, and Seles for the #4 spot, behind Evert, Graf, and Henin (in that order).

After that, I'd go Navratilova, then Sharapova, and then in the top 10 it's a slug-fest between one-time French champions with pretty good clay pedigree (Goolagong, Halep, Pierce, Majoli, maybe Muguruza) and no-time French champions with excellent clay pedigree (Hingis, Sabatini, Martinez, etc.).

The handful of players with neither clay pedigree nor good French records outside their lone slam (Ostapenko, Barty, Myskina) I don't think belong anywhere

I struggle to place Court. I've seen a lot of her on grass but not a lot on clay, and I also just don't know what she won outside her (admittedly impressive) French Open titles.

Her level though is another question, and it's tough to tell because her competition especially in the later years (2010-now) isn't comparable to earlier clay competition. There aren't female clay specialists at the top level of the tour anymore. In fact, there aren't really female clay specialists at any level of the tour.

The gutting of the women's clay season is one of the under-told stories in tennis. In 1995, there were three Tier I events and four Tier II events on the surface, and while three of them were on green clay, all of them were outdoors and they still had clay court champions. Now, there are 2 PM/P5 events (and one is Madrid, which plays differently) and two Premier events (one is Stuttgart, which plays differently). It's much harder to get to the top 10 as a clay specialist anymore unless you actually outright win Madrid or Rome and go deep at all the other clay events, and so clay specialists have disappeared.

Even at the lower levels, you used to be able to play 10ish weeks of Tier III/IV (what now would be international-level) clay court events a year, and now that's down to 5 or 6. The last player to emerge from the lower clay circuit to reach a level of achievement on the higher clay circuit was Errani, and even then it doesn't follow the same path as earlier Tier III to Tier I acheivers, like Majoli.

So in short, I think she's definitely Top 10, and arguably Top 5, on achievement alone, but to place her level is much harder because clay isn't what it used to be.
 

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@WilliamsOhanian Kuznetsova would like to know where she goes 😭
I think JUST behind Pierce and Halep, but decently above Muguruza and Majoli. I'd say tied with Ivanovic in there. I really struggle with where to put Hingis and Sabatini/Martinez in there. They go ahead of Muguruza and Majoli, IMO, but I can't move them ahead of the others.

I also struggle with Goolagong: she played the French just 3 times in her prime, going W-F-SF in 1971-72-73, and then was barred from playing in 1974 (unlike Evert, etc., she didn't have a direct conflict, but Chatrier kept WTT players from entering the event in 1974 out of solidarity with the European clay swing), and didn't go back to it until her very last slam in 1983. She won Rome once, and a handful of other clay events, but she was certainly not dominant like Evert, etc.
 

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STATISTICS alone, she's barely above Sharapova ( both have a career win percentage of 83% on clay); Serena has 1 more RG title, Sharapova made 3 RG finals in a row; Serena is 83% W/L at RG, Maria is 82% at RG. Serena made 10 QF or better at RG out of 17 attempts, Maria 9 in 14 attempts. Maria only twice failed to reach at least the 16s, Serena missed out 5 times. Serena won Madrid 2 times and Rome 4 times; Sharapova won Madrid once, Rome 3 times and Stuttgart 3 times . At the Tier III/Premier level and above Serena has 12 titles and Maria has 10.

If you only count RED CLAY (which most don't even consider Green clay as real clay in general) , Sharapova has a better overall % and higher title count ( as of Serena's 13 titles, 3 were Green Clay in Charleston, plus a 4th Final there; Sharapova has just one, Amelia Island).

Point being, unless you consider Sharapova one of the clay court greats........then Serena wouldn't be either. They'd likely be in the 6-8 spots, next to each other-behind Evert, Graf, Henin, Seles and Sanchez.
 

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Well her resume is really solid: three French titles, four Romes, two Madrids, and two Charlestons (from the Tier I era).

Greatness-wise, I'd say a toss-up between Serena, Sanchez, and Seles for the #4 spot, behind Evert, Graf, and Henin (in that order).

After that, I'd go Navratilova, then Sharapova
, and then in the top 10 it's a slug-fest between one-time French champions with pretty good clay pedigree (Goolagong, Halep, Pierce, Majoli, maybe Muguruza) and no-time French champions with excellent clay pedigree (Hingis, Sabatini, Martinez, etc.).

The handful of players with neither clay pedigree nor good French records outside their lone slam (Ostapenko, Barty, Myskina) I don't think belong anywhere

I struggle to place Court. I've seen a lot of her on grass but not a lot on clay, and I also just don't know what she won outside her (admittedly impressive) French Open titles.

Her level though is another question, and it's tough to tell because her competition especially in the later years (2010-now) isn't comparable to earlier clay competition. There aren't female clay specialists at the top level of the tour anymore. In fact, there aren't really female clay specialists at any level of the tour.

The gutting of the women's clay season is one of the under-told stories in tennis. In 1995, there were three Tier I events and four Tier II events on the surface, and while three of them were on green clay, all of them were outdoors and they still had clay court champions. Now, there are 2 PM/P5 events (and one is Madrid, which plays differently) and two Premier events (one is Stuttgart, which plays differently). It's much harder to get to the top 10 as a clay specialist anymore unless you actually outright win Madrid or Rome and go deep at all the other clay events, and so clay specialists have disappeared.

Even at the lower levels, you used to be able to play 10ish weeks of Tier III/IV (what now would be international-level) clay court events a year, and now that's down to 5 or 6. The last player to emerge from the lower clay circuit to reach a level of achievement on the higher clay circuit was Errani, and even then it doesn't follow the same path as earlier Tier III to Tier I acheivers, like Majoli.

So in short, I think she's definitely Top 10, and arguably Top 5, on achievement alone, but to place her level is much harder because clay isn't what it used to be.
What in the world?? This is clear example of using GS count as the be all( which ironically you said shouldn't be so, in other threads). There's zero way that it's a "toss up" between Sanchez, Seles and Serena. It's also ironic that you are using RG titles as the barometer yet aren't in taking into account OVERALL RG success.....

Arantxa won 19 clay court titles, made SIX Roland Garros Finals
Martina won 20 clay court titles, made the Finals or better 5 out of 6 years at Roland Garros
Monica won Roland Garros 3 times (with 4 finals) in 11 attempts......
Serena won 13 clay titles and made 4 Roland Garros Finals( in 17 attempts).

Arantxa was 72-13 at RG; Martina 51-11; Monica 54-8....Serena 65-13. She has the fewest overall clay court titles of all 4, the third lowest % at RG, lowest overall win %, the fewest RG Finals. Her and Martina could be a toss up, but she's definitely behind the other two.
 

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i'm not gonna address this thread bc it just always inevitably turns into ppl advocating for their faves / shit on the players they don't like, i would just like to say 2013 clayrena is my favorite version of serena of all time. that is all.
 

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What in the world?? This is clear example of using GS count as the be all( which ironically you said shouldn't be so, in other threads). There's zero way that it's a "toss up" between Sanchez, Seles and Serena. It's also ironic that you are using RG titles as the barometer yet aren't in taking into account OVERALL RG success.....
I'll give you Seles, sure, but get RG out of your head for a second and look at clay in general: Serena's winning percentage on clay is higher than Navratilova, and significantly higher than Arantxa.

Overall clay title count has to be taken with a grain of salt, because there isn't clay tennis the way there used to be: there are now only two Tier I-equivalent clay titles on the surface, as opposed to three, and two Tier II-equivalent clay titles on the surface, as opposed to four.

I'd rank them Seles-Serena-Arantxa-Navratilova, but I'd hear an argument for any of them at the top.

[edit: updated after running Seles records]
 

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If you only count RED CLAY (which most don't even consider Green clay as real clay in general)....
See, and I say most don't consider indoor clay as real clay, invalidating all those Stuttgart titles.

At the Tier III/Premier level and above Serena has 12 titles and Maria has 10.
That's an odd cut-off. By using Tier II/Premier as the range, you're adding all of Sharapova's Stuttgart titles and lone Amelia Island title to her PM/P5 titles, respectively, but just two of Serena's Charleston titles, since Serena won her first at the Tier I level.

Using Tier I-and-above, and P5/PM as the proxy for Tier I that virtually everyone else on this board uses, Serena leads 10-6.

Or put another way, 3/13 of Serena's titles were won at the Tier II/Premier level and below, while 5/11 of Sharapova's were won at the Tier II/Premier level and below.
 

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Ah, when it comes to clay courts Serena doesn't make the top 10. Think of Evert (the queen of clay), Seles (she would have even more wins had she not been stabbed), Goolagong, Ruzici, Sanchez-Vicario, Sabatini, Graf, Navratilova, Pierce, Capriati, and there are even more from the 80s and 70s that with today's equipment and strings, would beat Serena easily. I know I am setting myself up for a lot of backlash but people have to be realistic. Think of how many early round losses Serena has had at Roland Garros as well as other clay events.
 

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The surface has changed so much through the years so it’s really, really hard to compare era’s. Serena is always in the equation, whatever.

it would be interesting to see today’s players play on 70s 80s even 90s clay and vice versa.
Since when ? Equipment and balls may have changed but red clay has remained the same. I think you meant Wimbledon grass.
 

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Since when ? Equipment and balls may have changed but red clay has remained the same. I think you meant Wimbledon grass.
out of the last 9 French Opens, seven have been won by fast-court players (Barty, Na Li, Ostapenko, and Williams/Sharapova twice each). So it seems logical to assume that the FO clay has been sped up somehow.
 

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There's five tournaments that are either a Slam or a Premier (Madrid, Rome, Stuttgart, Charleston). The conditions are extremely different.
Sure, just like Quen's Club grass is way faster than Wimbly's.
Madrid and Stuttgart are faster than RG because of high altitude for the former and indoors for the latter. Charleston is green clay. I think Rome is similar to RG. And I stick to what I said : RG has remained the same surfacewise over the years.
 

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The surface has changed so much through the years so it’s really, really hard to compare era’s. Serena is always in the equation, whatever.

it would be interesting to see today’s players play on 70s 80s even 90s clay and vice versa.
Another great point. For example, Navratilova won 20 clay court titles, but only two of them (her two French Open titles) were not in the United States. There used to be a few red clay events in the States, but well over half of her clay titles were on green, which I consider real but some posters :cough cough: seem not to.

Same is true for Evert. Most of her clay titles were on green clay in the United States, although she also won more than a few Italian Opens and other European clay events. [edit: and, of course, French Open titles.]
 

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out of the last 9 French Opens, seven have been won by fast-court players (Barty, Na Li, Ostapenko, and Williams/Sharapova twice each). So it seems logical to assume that the FO clay has been sped up somehow.
These players are all-around surface players. Actually Pova became a clay specialist during the 2nd part of her career and sucked on grass/hard courts. Plus many fast-court specialists have won RG in the '70s and '80s : BJK, Mandlikova, Navratilova etc.
The RG surface has remained the same over the years.
 
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