Revisiting the debate: Serena Williams vs Steffi Graf

Who was greater?

  • Serena

    Votes: 80 37.7%
  • Steffi

    Votes: 132 62.3%

  • Total voters
    212
What are you talking about, serena beat her 1 time from 2003-2010 then justine retired?

Henin is better than Martina?? Ok...
Prime Henin is 200% for sure better than post prime Martina. You seriously think 88-94 Martina is better than 2003-2007 Henin anywhere outside of possibly Wimbledon. Of course not. Yes fully prime Martina is better than prime Henin outside of clay, but that is irrelevant when talking about Graf's competition as Graf's competition is not 82-86 Martina.

And Serena beat Henin more than 1 time in 2003-2010. I don't know the exact number but just off the top of my head destroyed her in the 03 Wimbledon semis and in their 08 Miami meeting, and beat her in the 2010 Australian Open final. You clearly don't have a clue what you are talking about.
 

73west

Semi-Pro
Graf had her mojo mostly back at the 1992 French Open, and many commented how she was playing better than ever at the 1993 Australian Open. Seles still beat her both times and was clearly still improving in early 1993, with a bigger serve (seven aces against Graf in the AO final) and even some net play. Seles was 36-1 in her last 37 matches, with the only loss to Navratilova, 7-6 in the third when Seles had the flu. It's scary to think how good she could have been from 1993-1995.

You can quote commentators or cite anecdotes, but statistically 1991 and 1992 were Graf’s worst years since hitting her prime, and it was not because she kept losing to Seles.

1992 saw her cap off a 1-7 run vs Sabatini, her blasted by Sanchez at the USO, Lose to Capriati at the Olympics. She was way off her game. There is no rational way to dispute that 1992 Graf was not as good as Graf 1987-1990
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
I hope you aren't referring to Mary Carillo and Cliff Drysdale as many. Since those were the only two I heard say that. Two of the worst commentators in tennis history. Carillo has no credability, things she says almost always make no sense; like when said "Maria is just a way better player than Serena" in bitterness after Serena beat Maria in the 2005 Australian Open semis. Her opinions and views change like the wind, she was the biggest Seles ass kisser around early 93 so I am not surrpised she would say something like "Graf is playing her best tennis ever" with no basis or logic beyond trying to pump up her then pet more. Later that same year she disgustingly said Seles was milking the stabbing for all it was worth and her real goal was Hollywood, so I guess she was on a different bandwagon now. She is a racist, vulgar mouth, butch man wannabee, fake feminist, former nobody player who only is employed due to her buddy McEnroe, and everything else bad you can think of. As for Drysdale he is a senile old man and an embarssment in the booth, and was always a pretty big hater of two players imparticular- Steffi Graf and Mary Pierce.
After the 1993 Australian Open, Graf went on to win 4 straight Majors and the WTA Championships. If not for Seles, it would have almost certainly been 5 straight Majors. It seems clear she was was playing really well.
 
Graf had her mojo mostly back at the 1992 French Open, and many commented how she was playing better than ever at the 1993 Australian Open. Seles still beat her both times and was clearly still improving in early 1993, with a bigger serve (seven aces against Graf in the AO final) and even some net play. Seles was 36-1 in her last 37 matches, with the only loss to Navratilova, 7-6 in the third when Seles had the flu. It's scary to think how good she could have been from 1993-1995.
Saying Graf was playing better than ever in late 92-early 93 is super weird and I amazed to see someone say that. Did you actually watch tennis back then since I am starting to wonder. Graf lost to Sanchez in straight sets at the U.S Open, McNeil in straight sets at the YEC, nearly went to a 3rd set vs Sanchez in the semis of the 93 Australian even though Sanchez is just a horrible rebound ace player. In 93 even after Seles got stabbed she lost to Provis (a tall clumsy slow Australian power baseliner who was top 30ish most of her career) and Martinez in straight sets on carpet, and lost to Sanchez 3 times even though Sanchez wasn't nearly as good as 94-96 yet. She also should have lost to Fernandez in the French final and Novotna in the Wimbledon final but both choked badly at the end. Does this sound like someone playing their best tennis ever, particularly someone with about 5 years they lost something like 2 or 3 matches. Graf's best ever tennis are the year 1987, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1996. those 5 years are way over any others. 1993 and 1992 would be over 1991 for sure but way down they list overall. I would say honestly her tennis in 1994 was much better than 1993 even though she won 3 slams in 1993 and 1 in 1994, she just got super lucky in the slams in 93 and more unlucky in 1994. I would put all of 1994, 1999, 1990, and maybe 1986 over all of 1991-1993 too. Coming from a non Graf fan who still followed that whole era closely.

Serena still > Graf though.
 
After the 1993 Australian Open, Graf went on to win 4 straight Majors and the WTA Championships. If not for Seles, it would have almost certainly been 5 straight Majors. It seems clear she was was playing really well.
That just shows more how weak the field was then, especialy after Seles got stabbed, when Graf was shaky enough to be losing matches to a nothing clown like Nicole Provis, and getting destroyed by Martinez on lighting carpet in the Philadelphia final, lose a bunch of times to Sanchez who couldn't even make a slam final that year even with easy draws. Yet still won 4 straight slams even in that form. Which works probably more against Graf in the debate vs Serena than for her anyway, so if your goal is to argue against Graf I don't know why you would be hell bent on trying to show she was in some great form then anyway, as it isn't needed to create a good argument against her.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Saying Graf was playing better than ever in late 92-early 93 is super weird and I amazed to see someone say that.
I didn't say that. I said

-she had her mojo mostly back at the 1992 French Open, when she took peak Seles to 10-8 in the third set; and​
-she might have been playing better than ever when she took very peak Seles (with that serve!) to a third set.​

Seles was the 2 time defending champion at both of those Majors, and Graf played her really tough.
 
After the 1993 Australian Open, Graf went on to win 4 straight Majors and the WTA Championships. If not for Seles, it would have almost certainly been 5 straight Majors. It seems clear she was was playing really well.
I don't think I need to explain to you the luck Graf got at some of those majors, and I am not just talking about the Seles stabbing alone. Sometimes stats don't tell the whole story. And as you would be the first to point out the womens game got pretty crummy after the Seles stabbing, and not just due to the stabbing either- Sabatini's continued decline, Capriati's impending total burnout, Novotna becoming a permanent mental edge until maybe 97-98 after the Wimbledon fiasco, Fernandez becoming a walking hospital bed the remainder of her career post RG 93, etc.... Davenport came on the scene but unfortunately was still about 300 pounds until late 97 atleast. Thank goodness Sanchez improved majorly and became the biggest overachiever in tennis history I refer to her as, and Pierce emerged even with her Jekly and Hyde routine, otherwise Graf could have probably come to court in a wheelchair and won all the slams she played from 93-96.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
You can quote commentators or cite anecdotes, but statistically 1991 and 1992 were Graf’s worst years since hitting her prime, and it was not because she kept losing to Seles.

1992 saw her cap off a 1-7 run vs Sabatini, her blasted by Sanchez at the USO, Lose to Capriati at the Olympics. She was way off her game. There is no rational way to dispute that 1992 Graf was not as good as Graf 1987-1990
In 1990, Graf beat Mary Joe Fernandez to win the Australian Open and then lost to 16 year-old Seles at the French, Zina Garrison at Wimbledon, and Sabatini at the U.S. Open.

From the 1992 French through the 1993 Australian Open, Graf won Wimbledon, took peak Seles to three sets at the French and the Australian, and, yes, had the upset loss to ASV. But I'd easily pick that stretch over her 1990.
 
Speaking of Davenport I do wonder if she had gotten in tip top shape like she was from 98 until her retirement when she first emerged in 93. Maybe she could have had her best years from 94-97. Graf in 95-96 would be very tough for her, but otherwise there isn't anyone especialy in 94 and 97 she couldn't have beaten and dominated had she gotten her ass in gear a lot sooner. By the time she finally got fit and got things together the Williams were already starting to emerge and Venus's prime was only a year or two away, so her window was limited, hence only 3 majors.

Of course even fit she is a mediocre to poor mover, but with her incredible shots from all parts of the game and a point she could get by with that, but not the godawful snail she was as a U Haul from 93-97. She unbelievably made even post stabbing Seles look lightning fast, it was like watching a transport trying to dance around the court.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
I don't think I need to explain to you the luck Graf got at some of those majors, and I am not just talking about the Seles stabbing alone. Sometimes stats don't tell the whole story. And as you would be the first to point out the womens game got pretty crummy after the Seles stabbing, and not just due to the stabbing either- Sabatini's continued decline, Capriati's impending total burnout, Novotna becoming a permanent mental edge until maybe 97-98 after the Wimbledon fiasco, Fernandez becoming a walking hospital bed the remainder of her career post RG 93, etc.... Davenport came on the scene but unfortunately was still about 300 pounds until late 97 atleast. Thank goodness Sanchez improved majorly and became the biggest overachiever in tennis history I refer to her as, and Pierce emerged even with her Jekly and Hyde routine, otherwise Graf could have probably come to court in a wheelchair and won all the slams she played from 93-96.
I agree that the field was really weak after the Seles stabbing, but...it was also pretty weak when Graf was racking up the Majors in the late 1980s. Evert was at the very tail end of her career and clearly diminished, and Navratilova was still game but clearly past her peak. Beyond those two, though...
 
I agree that the field was really weak after the Seles stabbing, but...it was also pretty weak when Graf was racking up the Majors in the late 1980s. Evert was at the very tail end of her career and clearly diminished, and Navratilova was still game but clearly past her peak. Beyond those two, though...
I do think 87-89 while not amazing, was quite a bit stronger than 93-96. Navratilova while clearly past her peak was still super strong on faster courts of Wimbledon and the U.S Open those years, less so on slower courts after 87, but on faster courts she was still a very tough beat and Graf did well to usually do it. Evert was more past her prime than Navratilova, but physically peaking in some ways with advanced technology and physically having pushed herself so much from 84 onwards, just mentally she was far less consistent than in her prime now. Sabatini, Sanchez, Seles were formidable up and comers, Seles was still too young, but Sabatini and to a degree Sanchez were not and were already bigtime contenders. Sabatini's prime was really 88-92, and 93 onwards was way downhill. Sukova and Shriver, two of the very best non slam winners in history, were very formidable players at this point. The 2 elder Maleevas were very good at this point.

I would say 87-89 at worst was mediocre. 93-96 was really weak. Other than Graf and maybe Sanchez the entire top 10 would be much weaker than the 87-89 top 10 person for person I am pretty sure.
 

insideguy

Legend
I don't know in the end and we can argue about weak times and strong times. Serena has won slams against 3 tennis generations. And if she somehow pulls out another one that will be four. She beat the old timers to win her first slams, beat her generation to win the next slams, beat the next generation to win more slams, and now there is another crop of new comers. If she pulls out 24 somehow( which I doubt) it will be amazing. I mean other than Kerber who is playing ok, and Sharapova who is done, and her sister who looks done, there isn't any notable 30 something players on tour let alone in the top 10. Think about that.
 
I didn't say that. I said

-she had her mojo mostly back at the 1992 French Open, when she took peak Seles to 10-8 in the third set; and​
-she might have been playing better than ever when she took very peak Seles (with that serve!) to a third set.​

Seles was the 2 time defending champion at both of those Majors, and Graf played her really tough.
I think Graf was far better in the 94 Australian Open final than the 93 Australian Open final, and I say that even being fully aware and considering Sanchez is a far inferior opponent on that particular court surface than Seles. Keep in mind she lost 9 games to Sanchez in the 93 semis vs the 2 she lost to her in the 94 final, so that is telling. She was also much better in say the 89 Australian Open semis when she beat Sabatini 6-3, 6-0.

The 92 French was for sure not peak Seles form wise. She struggled and nearly lost in about half of her matches there. Even one match to some Japanese player I never heard of, and never saw again after that match. It turned out to be an epic dramatic match, but neither player was at their true peak form wise at that moment.

We will have to agree to disagree.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Also if you are attempting to compare Graf s opponents to Serena over a career, I mean you are listing people who won 1 slam and people like Martina who basically won 1 slam when Graf peaked. I mean even later day competition by your definitions is better than Grans except for Seles and Vicario. Trying to list people by slam wins to judge the actual competition is not really the best way to do it. I mean Kerber has won 3 slams during Sereas time. Osaka two. Kvitova two Azarenka two. Sharapova 5, I could go on and on. I mean I can't tell you well look all of these players showed they could win a slam therefore they were better than the competition that Graf faced. I mean I think they are. But then you can say well Graf was just so good no other players could win. We can't ever really settle that debate. Its impossible to gage.
There are so many grammatical errors, I don't know what you are saying here. Kerber, Kvitova, and Azarenka absolutely were not better than even older Navratilova nor better than Lindsay Davenport in even just the first half of her career. Graf also played Navratilova twice as many times as Serena played Kerber (9) and Graf played Davenport twice as many times as Serena played Kvitova (7). And Osaka is not some major Serena rival. They've played exactly 3 times, so why even mention her?
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Hingis was not in fact worse when she came back in 2006 at all. In fact she was refreshed and playing better than when she left. I would not call her comeback "failed" at all, it was in fact quite respectable, and an indication she made the right choice to take some time off, despite that she didn't succeed in the ultimate goal of another slam unfortunately. In late 2002 she lost to Myksina, Dementieva, a washed up near retired Seles, your beloved Dokic, most of those in lopsided matches, and some other similar second to third tier players of the time. When she first came back nearly all her losses were to only the Big 4 with the Williams slumping- Sharapova, Mauresmo, Henin, Clijsters. So that part simply isn't true.
This is just wrong. Hingis had a 460-98 record, a W/L % of 82% before her first retirement in 2002. After she came back in 2006-2007, she was 74-31 or 70%. Even in 2002, she was 34-10 or 77%. And when she came back, she was losing to players like Sania Mirza, Virginie Razzano, Ai Sugiyama, and Flavia Pennetta. That's worse than losing to Seles, Dementieva, Myskina, and Dokic. So in fact, Hingis was indisputably worse when she came back. And Hingis never getting past a major quarterfinal during her comeback makes it not respectable.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
As for Henin, the Henin-Serena rivalry never panned out to be all it could have as their peaks rarely coincided, but she is clearly a better player than everyone Graf faced from 88-96 when winning almost all her slams apart form Seles. Yes that included an old post prime Navratilova who was usually ranked behind Sabatini. Navratilova post prime was still good yes but certainly not better than a prime Henin, no way. The only place she would be better at that stage is possibly WImbledon, that is it. In fact Davenport, Sharapova (despite the joke GOATrena has single handedly turned their rivalry into, partly out of a personal vendetta), Clijsters, even probably Mauresmo are also better than everyone Graf faced from 88-96 apart from Seles of 91-early 93 and Navratilova of 87-89. And if we are going to mention Seles and Navratilova who only had a real rivalry with Graf of about 3 years each, we might as well mention Hingis for Serena (99-2001) too.
That "apart from Seles" is a huge caveat. In any case, I'm not arguing that Serena didn't have stronger competition than Graf through 2008. Serena did. It's Henin's retirement in 2008 culminating a series of retirements of all of Serena's major rivals of that period that left a very weak field for a long time thereafter, one that Serena was able to take advantage of. It was so weak, that Clijsters could come back, win a major a month later, and then while playing part time and being injury-plagued, win 2 more majors. And Graf did not have a 3-year rivalry with Navratilova but a 10-year rivalry.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Yea I mean people keep saying that Serena didn't have a long term rival but neither did Graf. She has Seles and a old Martina for like 3 years . The actual people who did play most of the time when she did pretty much stunk. I mean you could make a case for Vicario but the only other HOFer from Graf s time was Sabittini. And sheesh thats kind of a low bar HOFer. Thats like saying man Serena had to play Wozniaki or something.
This is revisionism. Graf was a top 10 player as of 1985 and had to deal with Navratilova from 85 to 94, a period in which Martina was a top 5 player through 93 and still in the top 10 in 94. They played in every one of those years except in 1990. Navratilova even beat Graf in 93. So their rivalry lasted a full 10 years, not 3. Graf faced prime Seles in 6 majors over 3 years, and while Seles indeed was never the same after she returned, she was still a solid top player whom Graf had to face for another 4 years. From her return in 1995 through 1999 when Graf retired, Seles made the quarters or better of every major she played in except Wimbledon and she beat Graf at the Australian Open quarters in 1999. Even Evert should be considered a Graf rival. She played Graf as many times as Henin played Serena.
 

insideguy

Legend
There are so many grammatical errors, I don't know what you are saying here. Kerber, Kvitova, and Azarenka absolutely were not better than even older Navratilova nor better than Lindsay Davenport in even just the first half of her career. Graf also played Navratilova twice as many times as Serena played Kerber (9) and Graf played Davenport twice as many times as Serena played Kvitova (7). And Osaka is not some major Serena rival. They've played exactly 3 times, so why even mention her?
Davenport wasn't a serious threat till she lost her weight come on man. By that time Steffi wasn't winning slams and was injured a lot. Serena has played everyone who has won slams over the last 20 years. Osaka is just the latest of course she isn't going to play her much she is like 18 years younger. Serena has played them all. Some of them have been really good for short periods of time but what does that really matter? Good is good. Whether its for 3 years or 10 years. Beating Azarenka in her prime wasn't like a walk in the park. Neither is beating Li Na, or Kvitova, or any of the others when they are hot. These are quality players and all of them HOFers. Just saw an amazing stat yesterday when Serena was playing fed cup. She has never lost a fed cup singles match. She went on court yesterday toughed out a match against Ostanpenko who is 16 years younger than she is. Now you might laugh and say haha so what. Any other players on the WTA doing that?
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Funny you say that since Wozniacki actually achieved a ton more than Sabatini. Each with 1 slam and 3 slam finals, Sabatini has 2 YE#1 while Woz has only 1, but Wozniacki has more overall titles. Each has 6 Tier 1 titles. The huge difference that creates a large divide between them is Wozniacki has 2 YE#1 while Sabatini could not even reach #2 for a single week. And you can't put that down to just competition even if Wozniacki would probably not have ever reached #1 when Sabatini played.
Perhaps inadvertently, you've shown that Serena's post-2008 era was weaker than Graf's by stating that Wozniacki would never have reached #1 in Graf's era.

Graf in 1991 was also absolutely awful, the worst version of Graf ever, which is what initialy paved Seles's path to dominance, but Sabatini playing her best year of tennis ever by far still could not usurp her for even the #2 ranking for a single week.
Graf was that awful in 1991? In 1991, she went 63-8 (89%) and won Wimbledon. If winning 89% of your matches is "the worst version of Graf ever," then she must be far better than Serena because Serena's career W/L is only 85%. So "the worst version of Graf ever" is better than Serena's average.

Yet Wozniacki is something like only the 7th or 8th best player of the so called super weak part of Serena's era behind Serena, Azarenka, Kerber, Halep, possibly Sharapova, Muguruza, possibly Na. Sabatini meanwhile was the 4th best player of the entire Graf era behind only Graf, Seles, and Sanchez, or at worst 5th behind old Navratilova (88-94) but Sabatini probably achieved more than Navratilova in that span.
Wozniacki definitely out-achieved Muguruza and Li Na so she was the 6th best player of Serena's weak era. But you're conveniently starting the Graf era with her Grand Slam. That's forgetting her previous 3 years as a top 10 player. Once you include those years, the top players were Graf, Seles (whom Graf played 15 times), Navratilova (played 18 times), Evert (played 14 times), Aranxta (played 36 times), Davenport (played 14 times), and then Sabatini in 7th place. So Graf's competition was still stronger than Serena's weak era while including 3 all-time greats she had to compete against. And before people start decrying old Evert, she was a top 3 player for 4 of the 5 years that Graf played against her.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Davenport wasn't a serious threat till she lost her weight come on man. By that time Steffi wasn't winning slams and was injured a lot.
And yet Davenport still out-achieved Azarenka, Kerber, and Kvitova's entire careers in her 1997-1999. Graf played this Davenport 9 times in this period.

Serena has played everyone who has won slams over the last 20 years. Osaka is just the latest of course she isn't going to play her much she is like 18 years younger. Serena has played them all. Some of them have been really good for short periods of time but what does that really matter? Good is good. Whether its for 3 years or 10 years. Beating Azarenka in her prime wasn't like a walk in the park. Neither is beating Li Na, or Kvitova, or any of the others when they are hot.
You seem to be missing the point. They only get hot briefly, which is what makes this really long stretch such a weak period of the WTA. The truly great players don't win one or two majors and then disappear into the pack never to emerge again. Serena hasn't had to meet that type of player since Clijsters and she's really been the only one since 2008. But Clijsters retired in 2012.

She went on court yesterday toughed out a match against Ostanpenko who is 16 years younger than she is. Now you might laugh and say haha so what. Any other players on the WTA doing that?
Well, if you want names of very old players still toughing it out on the tour, there's Kuznetsova and Zvonereva, and for a while, Date.
 

insideguy

Legend
And yet Davenport still out-achieved Azarenka, Kerber, and Kvitova's entire careers in her 1997-1999. Graf played this Davenport 9 times in this period.



You seem to be missing the point. They only get hot briefly, which is what makes this really long stretch such a weak period of the WTA. The truly great players don't win one or two majors and then disappear into the pack never to emerge again. Serena hasn't had to meet that type of player since Clijsters and she's really been the only one since 2008. But Clijsters retired in 2012.



Well, if you want names of very old players still toughing it out on the tour, there's Kuznetsova and Zvonereva, and for a while, Date.
Its not a weak period if certain players are really good for short periods of time then then other players are. Good is good. You keep trying to simplify this stuff. Li Na was a good player for a long time. Then she became very good for a short period of time. That doesn't mean she wasn't very good for that short period of time. Thats not a weak era. That means a player peaked for a short period of time. Andreascu literally couldn't lose a match for 6 months last year. Does that mean it was a weak time period cause she was so good? Serena ran into a very good player in the finals of the US open. I don't know if she will ever be that good again. Thats not relevant. KENIN was very good during this Aussie open. Will she be good all year? I don't know and I don't see what that even means. The modern WTA has many good players and has for 15 years. They are not as consistent as Serena which tells you how freaking good she has been over the last 21 years cause there isn't anyone who has been able to do that. NO ONE. No one even close. To me that is not a disparagement on what is going on in the WTA it shows you how hard it is to win consistently in this environment. People keep thinking someone is just gonna walk on this tour and start smoking everyone. Thats not how this works anymore. Top to bottom these players are all really good. In the days of Steffi and Martina and Chrissy you didn't have players who could hurt you and beat you on any given day like the modern WTA players have to face. I would be amazed if there is anyone in the next 20 years who can get ten slams. The difference between the top and number 50 is that slim. And thats not the way it use to be. Is that a criticism of the WTA now? I don't look at it like that I think its a good thing.
 

Belgrad13

Rookie
Williams' advantage is her sister. Even if Venus does NOT lose on purpose, but on the contrary gives everything she has to offer,
it would still be her sister who knows her so well to take advantage of it. Relationship means an advantage.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Its not a weak period if certain players are really good for short periods of time then then other players are. Good is good. You keep trying to simplify this stuff. Li Na was a good player for a long time. Then she became very good for a short period of time. That doesn't mean she wasn't very good for that short period of time. Thats not a weak era. That means a player peaked for a short period of time.
No, you're just defining away a weak era by saying anytime Serena loses, that player must be really good so by definition, if Serena loses, it can't be a weak era. We know it was a weak era because flash-in-the-pan players won majors. In strong eras, that almost never happens. For example, from 1998-2007, every major was won by a strong established player except one. Iva Majoli was the only outlier. Since then, you've had plenty of flash-in-the-pan winners from Schiavone, Stosur, and Bartoli to Pennetta, Ostapenko, and Stephens. Compare that to the men's side. Since 2005, there have been no outlier slam winners except Cilic, and he's more consistent than any of the women I just named.

The modern WTA has many good players and has for 15 years. They are not as consistent as Serena which tells you how freaking good she has been over the last 21 years cause there isn't anyone who has been able to do that. NO ONE. No one even close.
None of them are even as consistent as Sabatini, much less Serena.

To me that is not a disparagement on what is going on in the WTA it shows you how hard it is to win consistently in this environment. People keep thinking someone is just gonna walk on this tour and start smoking everyone. Thats not how this works anymore. Top to bottom these players are all really good. In the days of Steffi and Martina and Chrissy you didn't have players who could hurt you and beat you on any given day like the modern WTA players have to face. I would be amazed if there is anyone in the next 20 years who can get ten slams. The difference between the top and number 50 is that slim. And thats not the way it use to be. Is that a criticism of the WTA now? I don't look at it like that I think its a good thing.
No. If you think everyone is great (like Schiavone, Stosur, Bartoli, Pennetta, Ostapenko, and Stephens), that just means no one is great. Greatness in sports always means rising above most everyone else. Wozniacki just retired. Her entire generation failed to produce a single all-time great player. That's never happened before in the history of tennis. You always had a Court, King or Evert, Navratilova or Graf, Seles or Williams, Henin until 2008. In the Open Era, the men's side only had a lull like that between Sampras and Federer around 2002-2003. The women have had it for over 10 years. Graf, Navratilova, and Evert had tougher opponents in one another than Serena ever has except maybe Henin and relatively briefly, Venus, but again Henin retired 12 years ago and Venus has been a shell of herself for about that long.

I personally think the weak era is coming to an end. I think if Osaka can get her mental game together and Andreescu can stay free of injury and Barty can bring her A-game more often, any of them could become the next great player.
 

McEnborg

Semi-Pro
Graf for sure. THIRTY FOUR more singles titles. More consistent. Higher winning percentage. More weeks at number 1.
That’s enough for me.

Graf moves better on the court, had a better slice, more consistent forehand. Serena has the greatest serve ever and the most pure power. But overall, Graf was better.
 

upchuck

Hall of Fame
I've avoided this thread like the plague. TTW has a reputation of disliking Serena. Thankfully, the commentariat class of Tennis has wrapped up this debate and Serena is widely regarded as the GOAT.
Its funny cause all these GOATS have big what ifs that surround them

Serena- What if Henin doesn't retire, or Clisters- I think this is the least what ifs because they chose to and I know Henin body was breaking down
Graf- What if Seles doesn't get stabbed
But to me the biggest what if is Evert- What if the Aussie open was important like it is today and if she plays those French opens that she could have.

To me everyone would be chasing Evert most likely. But you don't 100 percent know that. Cause Evert could have gone to one of those Aussie opens and blown out her knee and never been right again. So who knows.
Serena's What if is no where near what Graf's What if is. What Seles was in her era is not what Henin was in Serena's. Serena lost consecutive matches to Henin in the last year of her down period (2007) but there's little reason to think Henin would've have bested a fit and focused Serena enough times off clay to make that a fascinating rivalry going forward.
 

upchuck

Hall of Fame
One more thing: the craziest thing ever is people trying to convince others that Arantxa and Conchita and Gabriela count as particularly tough competition. Steffi Graf faced the weakest competition of any all time great during her best years. The only time in her career when her competition was strong was when she was not the top player in the world. Notwithstanding 1999, the one time in the 1990s when women's tennis had depth at the top of the sport, Monica Seles was by far the best player in the world.

If you can't see this, consider Hingis' win-loss record vs Graf's top rivals verses her record against the top players that later emerged. Hingis made Graf's rivals her pigeons.
 
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skaj

Legend
Williams' advantage is her sister. Even if Venus does NOT lose on purpose, but on the contrary gives everything she has to offer,
it would still be her sister who knows her so well to take advantage of it. Relationship means an advantage.
And Venus does not know Serena so well to take advantage of it?
 

insideguy

Legend
No, you're just defining away a weak era by saying anytime Serena loses, that player must be really good so by definition, if Serena loses, it can't be a weak era. We know it was a weak era because flash-in-the-pan players won majors. In strong eras, that almost never happens. For example, from 1998-2007, every major was won by a strong established player except one. Iva Majoli was the only outlier. Since then, you've had plenty of flash-in-the-pan winners from Schiavone, Stosur, and Bartoli to Pennetta, Ostapenko, and Stephens. Compare that to the men's side. Since 2005, there have been no outlier slam winners except Cilic, and he's more consistent than any of the women I just named.



None of them are even as consistent as Sabatini, much less Serena.



No. If you think everyone is great (like Schiavone, Stosur, Bartoli, Pennetta, Ostapenko, and Stephens), that just means no one is great. Greatness in sports always means rising above most everyone else. Wozniacki just retired. Her entire generation failed to produce a single all-time great player. That's never happened before in the history of tennis. You always had a Court, King or Evert, Navratilova or Graf, Seles or Williams, Henin until 2008. In the Open Era, the men's side only had a lull like that between Sampras and Federer around 2002-2003. The women have had it for over 10 years. Graf, Navratilova, and Evert had tougher opponents in one another than Serena ever has except maybe Henin and relatively briefly, Venus, but again Henin retired 12 years ago and Venus has been a shell of herself for about that long.

I personally think the weak era is coming to an end. I think if Osaka can get her mental game together and Andreescu can stay free of injury and Barty can bring her A-game more often, any of them could become the next great player.
You are dreaming if you think Osaka or Andresscu are going to somehow dominate in this era. Honestly your are. Thats not how this whole thing works anymore and I don't know what it takes for you to change your mind. If you actually think that you are not watching WTA tennis on any sort of regular basis and you are not in any way qualified to actually debate this subject.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
You are dreaming if you think Osaka or Andresscu are going to somehow dominate in this era. Honestly your are. Thats not how this whole thing works anymore and I don't know what it takes for you to change your mind. If you actually think that you are not watching WTA tennis on any sort of regular basis and you are not in any way qualified to actually debate this subject.
So your answer to me is to engage in pure speculation about my pure speculation (which had important caveats you ignored and which was an aside not pertinent to the topic at hand), and then not to address a single point I made and instead cast aspersions at me? Not a good look for you.
 

insideguy

Legend
So your answer to me is to engage in pure speculation about my pure speculation (which had important caveats you ignored and which was an aside not pertinent to the topic at hand), and then not to address a single point I made and instead cast aspersions at me? Not a good look for you.
Seriously your not watching WTA tennis and you are just bias. You are not. You can't be if you think that. You don't understand the competition in the game now, you don't understand how athletic these girls are. As I say this as Ostapenko just took first set off of Kenin. Who Serena beat last night. You don't really grasp how good these ladies are on any given day top to bottom now. The times of two or three ladies playing for all the slams is over. And its been over for 25 years. Have a good one.
 

zvelf

Hall of Fame
Seriously your not watching WTA tennis and you are just bias. You are not. You can't be if you think that. You don't understand the competition in the game now, you don't understand how athletic these girls are. As I say this as Ostapenko just took first set off of Kenin. Who Serena beat last night. You don't really grasp how good these ladies are on any given day top to bottom now. The times of two or three ladies playing for all the slams is over. And its been over for 25 years. Have a good one.
So if you just read the 2020 Australian Open thread on the WTA matches, you can read me commenting on the matches live, which would be impossible if I were not watching them. So much for your claim that I'm not watching the WTA today. Cherry picking one tiny data point (Ostapenko winning a set off of Kenin as if that were some impossible accomplishment) is meaningless and belies a total misunderstanding of statistics. As for two of three ladies playing for all the slams having been over for 25 years, Serena won 14 majors out of the 30 majors she played in between 2009 and 2017 so it was practically one lady playing for all the slams, much less two or three. And when Serena won her NCYGS in 2002-2003, she beat Venus in all 4 finals. If 4 straight major finals featuring the exact same players isn't only two ladies playing for all the slams, then nothing is. Last I checked 2002-2003 was within the last 25 years.
 

McEnborg

Semi-Pro
I've avoided this thread like the plague. TTW has a reputation of disliking Serena. Thankfully, the commentariat class of Tennis has wrapped up this debate and Serena is widely regarded as the GOAT.

And WHY is that? Because it is the POLITICALLY CORRECT thing to say. Worship at Serena’s alter....not remembering that Martina Navratilova has won 94 more professional titles than Serena!!! Think about that. 167 titles for Martina (not to mention her 350 titles including mixed and women’s doubles). And the only reason Martina did not have more grand slams is because she struggled in the transition to America in her early years. Serena never had to go through that. Martina would have won at least 4-6 more slams if not for her early career anxiety and fitness issues. She self medicated with food. Once she got going, she was MORE dominant than Williams ever was.

And Graf is better as well. Serena is the third best ever...although some people might still put Margaret Court ahead of her. And let’s not forget Chris Evert’s 140 titles or whatever it was. The politically correct thing is to bow to Serena due to race. But Graf and Navratilova clearly had better and more consistent career. Why doesn’t Serena have even 80 titles, let alone 100 and more like those women???! What’s your excuse for that??? She’s played for 22 years.
 

insideguy

Legend
So if you just read the 2020 Australian Open thread on the WTA matches, you can read me commenting on the matches live, which would be impossible if I were not watching them. So much for your claim that I'm not watching the WTA today. Cherry picking one tiny data point (Ostapenko winning a set off of Kenin as if that were some impossible accomplishment) is meaningless and belies a total misunderstanding of statistics. As for two of three ladies playing for all the slams having been over for 25 years, Serena won 14 majors out of the 30 majors she played in between 2009 and 2017 so it was practically one lady playing for all the slams, much less two or three. And when Serena won her NCYGS in 2002-2003, she beat Venus in all 4 finals. If 4 straight major finals featuring the exact same players isn't only two ladies playing for all the slams, then nothing is. Last I checked 2002-2003 was within the last 25 years.
Not sure what school you went to but 14 out of 30 slams is good but its not practically all the majors. 16 other majors were won by other people. Serena has been playing in the most competitive time period of any great player ever. She is the oldest lady slam winner. And the oldest lady slam finalist. You chock that off to weak competition lol. Or good draws or something lol. Any other ladies doing this? Martina use to be the standard for playing well older well not anymore. She had a kid and made 4 slam finals after she had a freaking kid. She is currently trying to deal with a lady who is 10 years younger than her in a fed cup match after she beat a lady 16 years younger than her yesterday. But they stink I guess. They no good. She just lucky she playing in this weak era. Such crap.
 

upchuck

Hall of Fame
And WHY is that? Because it is the POLITICALLY CORRECT thing to say. Worship at Serena’s alter....not remembering that Martina Navratilova has won 94 more professional titles than Serena!!! Think about that. 167 titles for Martina (not to mention her 350 titles including mixed and women’s doubles). And the only reason Martina did not have more grand slams is because she struggled in the transition to America in her early years. Serena never had to go through that. Martina would have won at least 4-6 more slams if not for her early career anxiety and fitness issues. She self medicated with food. Once she got going, she was MORE dominant than Williams ever was.

And Graf is better as well. Serena is the third best ever...although some people might still put Margaret Court ahead of her. And let’s not forget Chris Evert’s 140 titles or whatever it was. The politically correct thing is to bow to Serena due to race. But Graf and Navratilova clearly had better and more consistent career. Why doesn’t Serena have even 80 titles, let alone 100 and more like those women???! What’s your excuse for that??? She’s played for 22 years.
It is common knowledge that in tennis, slam titles are the be-end, end-all. Other things matter, yes, but far less than slams. You know this so I don't know why you are acting exasperated. Take men's tennis for instance. If Djokovic or Nadal win one more slam than Federer, no one will argue that Federer is still the GOAT if he has 10+ more other titles.
 
It is common knowledge that in tennis, slam titles are the be-end, end-all. Other things matter, yes, but far less than slams. You know this so I don't know why you are acting exasperated. Take men's tennis for instance. If Djokovic or Nadal win one more slam than Federer, no one will argue that Federer is still the GOAT if he has 10+ more other titles.
Not to mention players from back then always won more tournaments. Part of it was there were many tournaments with only 3 rounds back then. Laver won atleast 144 tournaments so by that logic he would be the GOAT, but to most people he isn't. People know the tournament counts of the 60s and 70s don't mean much.
 
Perhaps inadvertently, you've shown that Serena's post-2008 era was weaker than Graf's by stating that Wozniacki would never have reached #1 in Graf's era.
It might show 1991 was stronger atleast at the top (there was still far less depth which I will get to in a moment) than 2010 and 2011 for sure, but not the entire era. 1990-1992 was the strongest period of Graf's era and lo and behold Graf only won 1 slam per year during it, even in 1990 and 1992 when she was playing well. So saying two of the weakest years of Serena's era were weaker at top than one of the strongest years of the Graf era where Graf was reduced to not able to do much (only made finals of 1 of the 6 big tournaments that year, Wimbledon) doesn't indicate anything.

Plus the ranking system was different then. It was about quality over quantity, unlike todays system. I am not sure with the 90s ranking system if Wozniacki reaches #1 even in 2010 and 2011, and if so very briefly. There is no way in hell she ends 2011 over Kvitova, which nearly everyone thought was wrong anyway, under the 90s ranking system.

Graf was that awful in 1991? In 1991, she went 63-8 (89%) and won Wimbledon. If winning 89% of your matches is "the worst version of Graf ever," then she must be far better than Serena because Serena's career W/L is only 85%. So "the worst version of Graf ever" is better than Serena's average.
Or it shows that there was no depth in womens tennis back then, a well known fact, and something Chris Evert even repeatedly states in her own commentary. And even the supremely arrogant Navratilova who works overboard to support herself and her GOAT claims admits. So even when playing bad there was nobody outside the Top 5 to ever beat her. Even in a year she was playing so badly she lost a slam semi 6-2, 6-0 to Sanchez and lost to her pigeon Novotna on her worst court (rebound ace). Even in a year like 1991 which for standards back then was a very strong year for the game, you still had no depth at all outside the top group. You regularly played people like Barbara Paulus, Judith Weisner, and Natalie Tauziat in the round of 16 and quarterfinals. Talentless nothings who couldn't beat the biggest names on their worst day or even with 30 attempts. Today you often play a former #1 or former Slam winner in the 3rd round.
 

mxmx

Hall of Fame
Graf for sure. THIRTY FOUR more singles titles. More consistent. Higher winning percentage. More weeks at number 1.
That’s enough for me.

Graf moves better on the court, had a better slice, more consistent forehand. Serena has the greatest serve ever and the most pure power. But overall, Graf was better.
Graf has the better slice but Serena has the better topspin bh.
 

Graf1stClass

Professional
That just shows more how weak the field was then, especialy after Seles got stabbed,
Goodness, people are still saying this poubelle. One person does not constitute a field. Seles getting stabbed changed nothing at all for anyone except herself.

PS...Steffi got death threats for this too and had worse injuries but never made excuses on her end. You people act like she should've bet her entire career on Seles coming back 100%.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Goodness, people are still saying this poubelle. One person does not constitute a field. Seles getting stabbed changed nothing at all for anyone except herself.

PS...Steffi got death threats for this too and had worse injuries but never made excuses on her end. You people act like she should've bet her entire career on Seles coming back 100%.
When that one person has won seven of the last nine Majors and the last 3 WTA Championships and is 19 years-old and clearly improving, yes she basically constitutes the field (especially given that the other 2 Majors were won by Graf).
 

Mark-Touch

Hall of Fame
Look anyone with half a brain knows that Graf was a great player.
But she was extremely lucky to be able to capitalize on the Seles stabbing.
No stabbing and their total slam count would be fairly even.
Graf wouldn't even be in this discussion.
 

skaj

Legend
Goodness, people are still saying this poubelle. One person does not constitute a field. Seles getting stabbed changed nothing at all for anyone except herself.

PS...Steffi got death threats for this too and had worse injuries but never made excuses on her end. You people act like she should've bet her entire career on Seles coming back 100%.
Please, let's be reasonable.
 
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Deleted member 769694

Guest
Gotta love it when people make arguements with "what if"

Martina > Steffi > Chrissy > Court > Serena

@zvelf is a great poster who uses facts.

Graf has the better slice but Serena has the better topspin bh.
Serena cant hit forehands off low deep slices, she always lifts them for a very weak reply. If i recall you play at decent level and can compare the mechanics of the players. Her Bh though is one of the best.

Btw Serena lost again yesterday, that winning % keeps going down.
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Gotta love it when people make arguements with "what if"
But the argument for Graf relies on a "what if" argument. The fact is that Seles had won 7/9 Majors and 3/3 WTA Championships when she was stabbed. At the time, there was no reason to believe she would have become the dominant player again. An argument for Graf being the greatest or greater than Serena relies upon speculating, "What if Graf could have taken her crown back from Seles?"
 
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Deleted member 769694

Guest
But the argument for Graf relies on a "what if" argument. The fact is that Seles had won 7/9 Majors and 3/3 WTA Championships when she was stabbed. At the time, there was no reason to believe she would have become the dominant player again. An argument for Graf being the greatest or greater than Serena relies upon speculating, "What if Graf could have taken her crown back from Seles?"
Graf is on the goat list for her 1987 and especially her 1988 gcygs. Total domination, before Seles.

We could speculate on what Seles would of done, we can also speculate she would of put on a lot of weight as she got older and been unable to maintain her physical style.

But in the end it doesnt matter, who look at what happened, not what could of happened
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Graf is on the goat list for her 1987 and especially her 1988 gcygs. Total domination, before Seles.

We could speculate on what Seles would of done, we can also speculate she would of put on a lot of weight as she got older and been unable to maintain her physical style.

But in the end it doesnt matter, who look at what happened, not what could of happened
And what happened is that Seles dominated women's tennis from the 1990 WTA Championships until the stabbing. What if she weren't stabbed? Could Graf have taken back her crown? We can only speculate.
 
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Deleted member 769694

Guest
And what happened is that Seles dominated women's tennis from the 1990 WTA Championships until the stabbing. What if she weren't stabbed? Could Graf have taken back her crown? We can only speculate.
Ok, what would of happened if Kim and Justine didnt retire early and were still playing today.

We could speculate serena would only have maybe 10 grand slams because Henin was 7-1 vs serena in their last 8 matches. Similar to steffi vs seles.

Therefore serena only has 10gs if we allow speculation into the debate.

We can only judge what happened, not what didnt
 

buscemi

Hall of Fame
Ok, what would of happened if Kim and Justine didnt retire early and were still playing today.

We could speculate serena would only have maybe 10 grand slams because Henin was 7-1 vs serena in their last 8 matches. Similar to steffi vs seles.

Therefore serena only has 10gs if we allow speculation into the debate.

We can only judge what happened, not what didnt
Clijsters first retired w/one Major. She then retired again in 2012 when her game was clearly in decline.

Henin first retired in 200 after she got smoked by Serena 6-2, 6-0 in Miami and then lost to Safina at the German Open. She then retired again in 2011 after winning no Majors in her return and w/her game clearly in decline.

So, at the time of their 4 retirements, Clijsters and Henin were clearly on the decline.

Conversely, Graf's biggest rival was dominating the game and was clearly improving. Could Graf have gotten back in the conversation? We could speculate that she could have raised the level of her game, but that's a "what if." As things stand, we don't know whether Graf would have ever caught up to Seles.
 
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Deleted member 769694

Guest
Conversely, Graf's biggest rival was dominating the game and was clearly improving. Could Graf have gotten back in the conversation? We could speculate that she could have raised the level of her game, but that's a "what if." As things stand, we don't know whether Graf would have ever caught up to Seles.
If you apply the speculation to one side, it must be consistent for the others.

Serena beat Justine 1 time in their last 6years.

Steffi and Monica's last 10 matches (before stabbing) look a bit more even than you guys are recalling (5-5 wut). Def closer than serena vs justine


 
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buscemi

Hall of Fame
If you apply the speculation to one side, it must be consistent for the others.

Serena beat Justine 1 time in their last 6years.

Steffi and Monica's last 9 matches (before stabbing) look a bit more even that you guys are recalling. Def closer than serena vs justine


I haven't said anything about the Seles/Graf H2H. I've just said that Seles won 7/9 Majors and 3/3 WTA Championships at the time of the stabbing. There was no reason to think Graf would have taken her crown back from Seles at the time of the stabbing. Now, could she have done so? Sure. But that requires a huge "what if"?
 
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