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Lionheart392
04-28-2009, 09:19 AM
I was thinking, Billie Jean King has done more to progress the sport of tennis than possibly anyone else, and will always be remembered for doing so. However, do you think this has diminished the prestige of her career? When I think of Billie Jean King, it is her work off the court that first comes into my mind, and her career second. But she did however achieve a career grand slam, won 84 titles in the open era and was ranked no.1 for a considerable period of time. So do you think her career has overall taken a back seat to everything else she has accomplished, and if so, has it affected her standing in the GOAT list? Or on the other hand, could it be possible that her work to further the sport of tennis brought more attention to her, and actually makes her career more memorable also. Or are the two things just completely separate? Thoughts please :)

flying24
04-28-2009, 09:46 AM
As far as her tennis greatness she isnt underrated I dont think. Most have her as the 7th or 8th greatest women player of all time which is about where she should be. She was a great player but only 12 slam titles, no major records in singles, not the dominance or years of dominance of a # of the others, and clearly being the 2nd best of her era behind Court, she really cant be any higher than that. However she may well have sacrificed much of further her own greatness as a tennis player in order to concentrate on making the womens game what it is now, and for that she probably doesnt get nearly as much gratitude and thanks as she should.

boredone3456
04-28-2009, 10:29 AM
In terms of her on court career, she did acheive a lot. all of her slams, winning 3 of the 4 in 1972, and winning every single slam possible except the womens doubles at the Austrailian, she truly is an amazing tennis icon in history. But she did only win 12 slams, and while that is truly great, you compare her to her cheif rival, Margaret Court, who has twice as many, and well you can see how she falls short.

Off Court, she is responsible for the womens tour as it is today, without her the women would probably not even have a tour, prize money or anything. While on Court she may not be the best player ever, no one can really deny, no player has done more for womens tennis than Billie Jean King has.

BTURNER
04-28-2009, 01:56 PM
Her clay court credentials are barely passable. She hated the stuff and it showed. but could she volley!!!

MIGHTY MANFRED THE WONDER
04-28-2009, 02:07 PM
Billie Jean could cut quite a rug.
She also has an sports group most responsible for most all the Title IX "advances" to date.

CEvertFan
04-28-2009, 04:23 PM
The USTA named the National Tennis Center after her, which proves how much she has done for tennis in general and for women's tennis in particular, as well as women's sports in general.

As it is she is still one of the all time great women's players even though she probably sacrificed a few majors to promote the women's tour. I have her at #7 on my list.

thalivest
04-28-2009, 04:37 PM
I have her at #7 on my list.

I am not sure how to rank her vs Wills Moody, Connolly, or Lenglen. To be honest though of those 3 I think Lenglen is the one I would most likely think of putting her just ahead of, while Wills Moody is the last of the 3 I would put her over.

CEvertFan
04-28-2009, 09:40 PM
I am not sure how to rank her vs Wills Moody, Connolly, or Lenglen. To be honest though of those 3 I think Lenglen is the one I would most likely think of putting her just ahead of, while Wills Moody is the last of the 3 I would put her over.

I would agree with that but on the other hand Lenglen was no push over.

I would rank the ladies accordingly:

Navratilova
Evert
Graf
Court

These four are in the truly elite group as all of them have a good case for being considered the best ever.

Wills

Connolly
King
Lenglen

These next three are also all very close and could be switched around.


Seles
Serena Williams


Serena could conceivably move up but I really don't see it happening because majors aren't the only criteria, and her game has fallen off so much that it's hard to imagine her dominating again like she did in '02-'03.

charliefedererer
04-28-2009, 10:00 PM
In terms of her on court career, she did acheive a lot. all of her slams, winning 3 of the 4 in 1972, and winning every single slam possible except the womens doubles at the Austrailian, she truly is an amazing tennis icon in history. But she did only win 12 slams, and while that is truly great, you compare her to her cheif rival, Margaret Court, who has twice as many, and well you can see how she falls short.

Off Court, she is responsible for the womens tour as it is today, without her the women would probably not even have a tour, prize money or anything. While on Court she may not be the best player ever, no one can really deny, no player has done more for womens tennis than Billie Jean King has.

I totally agree with your statement, and it could sum up her tennis legacy "no player has done more for women's tennis than Billie Jean King."
She realized that a smooth functioning, competive women's professional tour would make all the participants "winners."
Despite how over the top her 1973 match with Bobby Riggs was, it helped both to trigger the tennis boom and put women athletes on a more equal footing with men.
So her legacy really transcends women's tennis, and like Arthur Ashe's, even transcends tennis.
Who says you can't be a giant at 5'4"?

thalivest
04-28-2009, 10:02 PM
Oh I agree Lenglen is a great player for sure. Just that she is the one I could most easily rank King over of those I mentioned. Reasons for that is she won only 12 slams, same # as King. While those are essentialy the only 12 she ever chose to play, other than a U.S she was sick, it is still a fact. Also 4 of those 12 were French Opens closed to foreign players. She would have won them for sure anyway, we all know that, but again it is still a fact as well. She didnt have the longevity that Helen Wills did, through her own choice of course, but still a factor.

I agree with your groupings. Whether I agree with the exact orders or not is moot since as you said you could argue amongst the groupings different ways.

As for Serena I honestly get the impression she isnt willing to work any harder at the game than she is right now, which isnt even close to full out commitment or even a respectable fitness level. Sad reality of course but true. With that approach her fate is largely dependent on the quality of the field around here, which right now is not only weak ability wise, but in mental toughness which in some of her recent victories has even been needed for Serena to win as it turned out. I dont think she is clueless though, perhaps foolish to be wasting such massive talent, but not clueless to what she is doing. She seems willing to achieve as much as she possibly can in the remaining part of her career on sheer talent, natural athletic ability, and mental toughness alone, with putting in the least amount of work possible. Trying to get the most out of the least amount of effort and let the chips fall as they may from there. Even the current womens field which is weak skill wise to begin with still would have been enough to down her in her current state at some of the events she won, such as the Australian Open if a couple of her opponents (Kuznetsova and to a lesser degree Dementieva) had any nerve whatsoever. Someone like Azarenka is now emerging. Finally some sort of new face with some degree of real potential. Granted I am not going to go overboard on her as she isnt exactly chicken soup just yet, but she is atleast someone who is looking like she doesnt cower at the sheer sight of Serena, and given her youth will only get better. I expect a few more to soon follow her. Someone like Safina has to get her mental game together at some point, maybe even Kuznetsova (ok that was going too far perhaps). I would say Serena's career is unlikely to improve to the extent from here that would move her up much on the list. I have no doubts she will pass Seles, well some would have her over Seles already but I mean clearly pass her. Any of the others though, not sure. If she is lucky she could move into the Lenglen-Connolly-King group, but I think this is really dependent on the rest of the field more than on her at this point as what we can expect from her in the forseeable future seems set. Unless she shocks me and changes her approach, she will only add to her career as much as the field lets her.