Will Serena Williams go down as the GOAT over Steffi Graf and Margaret Court?

Will Serena Williams go down as the GOAT over Steffi Graf and Margaret Court?

The GOAT debate is a never-ending topic among all sports fans. While the GOAT debate in men’s tennis has settled down on the ‘Big 3’, the circle for the women’s GOAT is quite wide. Over the years, many female stars have thrilled fans with their exquisite tennis skills, however, no one has quite done it like the three most successful women’s tennis stars of all time. Margaret Court, Steffi Graf, and Serena Williams have dominated three generations of women’s tennis and can be referred to as the ‘Big 3’.

 

Margaret Court was undisputedly the best player of her generation. The Australian star won an astonishing 24 singles Grand Slam titles and started her domination at the young age of 17. By the end of her career, Court had managed to win her home Grand Slam eight times but it was her performance abroad that caught everyone’s eye. Margaret Court won her maiden French Open and US Open title in 1962 before completing her career slam with a Wimbledon title in 1963. Court was the youngest player to complete a career slam aged just 21, however, she was soon surpassed by the German ace, Steffi Graf.

 

Steffi Graf took over as the leading women’s star after Margaret Court. The German superstar was a teenage sensation, winning her first Grand Slam title at the age of 18. Soon, Graf was the best player in the world as she completed a calendar slam at the young age of 19. The German ace won 107 singles titles including 22 Grand Slams and held the number one ranking for a record 377 weeks. Graf was the best player on earth during her peak as she reached unprecedented success. The former world number one reached 13 consecutive Grand Slam finals between 1987 and 1990, winning nine of them. Graf retired from professional tennis at the young age of 30, when she was ranked the world number three. The German’s retirement paved the way for the next generation of superstars to make their mark and up-stepped Serena Williams.

Serena Williams is an iconic figure in tennis due to her sheer dominance in the Open Era. The American star has 23 Grand Slam singles titles to her name and etched her name in the tennis folklore. Along with her brilliance in singles tournaments, Williams made a name for herself with her great doubles record too. Serena, along with her sister, Venus Williams won multiple Grand Slam doubles titles to climb up in the GOAT debate. Serena Williams is also the only player in the history of tennis to complete a ‘Career Golden Slam ‘ in both singles and doubles.

 

While all three of these iconic women’s stars make a case to be hailed as the GOAT, Williams might have just edged the debate. Despite Court winning more Grand Slam titles and Graf having a more dominant peak, Williams has more than one reason to be top of the ladder in the history of women’s tennis.

The Legacy of Serena Williams

The tennis world was saddened when Serena Williams announced her retirement from professional tennis in August 2022. The American superstar was preparing for her swansong at Flushing Meadows, a place where she had won the US Open titles six times. A full house was in attendance to watch Serena Williams play against Ajla Tomljanovic, in what turned out to be the final match of her career.

The match that started competitively soon turned into an emotional outpour as Williams faced one final match point of her career. The American, who had thrilled the crowds with her aggressive tennis throughout her career, was showing off her emotional side amidst an outpouring of love. Icons from across sports hopped on to social media to pay their tributes to Williams, who made her way out of the stadium, one final time, in front of people carrying ‘GOAT’ banner as a tribute to her.

Statistically, Serena Williams is the GOAT given her 23 singles Grand Slam titles to go with her 14 doubles titles, however, her legacy is far beyond the numerics and titles. Williams has been a guiding light for people of color all around the world throughout her career. The former world number one has come through a lot of racist, sexist, and financial hurdles throughout her life to make her way to the top of the women’s game.

There is no doubting the fact that social media has helped Williams reach a status that Court and Graf could never reach.

Gideon Canice

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