With 19 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, 13 doubles titles, two mixed doubles titles, and three Olympic gold medals, there can be no doubt that Serena Williams lays legitimate claim to being the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Yes, Steffi Graf has 22 and Margaret Court 24 but neither possessed Serena’s power and ground strokes. Also, neither woman played with as many talented players as Serena has, especially when one considers how much faster the game is played these days. Serena has survived Hingis, Capriati, Davenport, Henin, Clijsters, and Safina, and currently rules the roost as number one ahead of Sharapova, Azarenka, Wozniacki and her other contemporaries that must be dying for her to announce her retirement.
I remember back when Serena and Venus just started playing back in the mid-90s, when Venus was already developing into one of the best players in the world, their father Richard Williams acknowledged that while Venus was going to be great, Serena was going to be the better of the two. How right he was.
Had it not been for Serena Venus would have won twice the seven Grand Slam titles she now holds because after the initial cagey match-ups between the two, Serena eventually began to stamp her class on the sibling rivalry and dominated her elder sister. It is in much the same way that she has over the years gone on to dominate pretty much every player she has faced over the last two decades.
Maria Sharapova, who she beat in the 2015 Australian Open final to tie Helen Wills-Moody on 19 titles, last beat Serena back in 2004. They have met 19 times in the last 11 years, Sharapova has only won twice so she perhaps knows best what it feels like to constantly being beat upon by Serena. “I haven’t beaten her in a really long time, but I love every time I step on the court to play against her, because she has been the best and as a tennis player you want to play the best,” Sharapova said after her latest defeat. The majority of women on the circuit can relate because Serena has a winning record against them all.
What is frightening is that Serena could have won even more. Had it not been for injury and illness that kept her out of competition for at least two years, Serena may well have won 22 or 23 titles, especially when you consider that her 19 titles have come from 23 finals appearances. Only Court has a higher win percentage in finals in the open era. Graf’s 22 titles were won in 31 finals.
How many more Grand Slam titles will Serena win? You guess is as good as mine, but if what we saw in the Australian Open final is any indicator, it could be two, three or four more. Serena turns 34 in September and if she can remain healthy, there are several more majors for the taking. The pressure, I feel, is off her now. She is in elite company. Only Graf and Court are ahead of her so whatever she plays for now is a bonus on top of what already is one of the greatest careers ever.