The term, ‘greatest’ in sports is just a word or a phrase which is utilised to be explicit or for the better understanding of the situation. If the eminence of an athlete is to be described, their on-court adeptness and their skill-set differences from their fellow mates on tour could be portrayed. The greatness of an athlete is fathomless irrespective of the sport they play. However in professional tennis, the brilliance of a tennis player has been assertively made measurable and the players have been given a status of Greatest Of All Times, or simply the GOAT tennis players. The concept seems futile to most of the tennis followers since there isn’t any static regulation which determines a criterion to fit into the category of GOAT tennis players.
Presently in tennis, the big names, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are appraised as the liege lords of the sport. Evidently, those ATP men have earned that prestige with the number of Grand Slams they have. These men have been dominating on the ATP circuit for a long time now and are quite often referred to as GOAT, but on the contrary, there are many other prominent players on the circuit who have not achieved as many majors as they have but nevertheless, they do deserve to earn the status of the ‘greatest’. For instance, the Swiss, Stan Wawrinka has a smooth career on tour and also he has one of the most powerful backhands amongst the ATP men. Despite being flawless in tennis and eligible for the GOAT rank, Wawrinka is nowhere mentioned in the discussion. Another ATP gem, Andy Murray, who despite having a sparkling career on the ATP tour is interrogated upon his association as one of the ‘Big Four’ in tennis. During the Rio Olympics in 2016, the profoundly celebrated ‘resurged king’ of tennis, Djokovic, shed tears on the court due to his opening round loss, within few days on the same arena where Djokovic lost, Murray picked up his second Olympic gold. Ironically, a loser of the prestigious event is termed as a GOAT just because he has a greater number of Slams than the winning player. Moreover, Murray is the only player in the history of tennis to win two Olympic Gold medals in the singles. Each player on tour is a master in different features of the game and simply comparing the athletes and boxing them into categories doesn’t seem ethical. Here the argument clearly entails the association of the tag GOAT to a player is exclusively decided by their performance at the majors.
On the WTA courts, the discussion of the ‘greatest’ is sadly less talked upon. At present, there are several women on the list of WTA top 20 who do not possess a major title. In fact, women’s tennis has also come across few Slam-less World Number ones, who dwelled on the apex position of tennis for a significant amount of time. If a player is top-ranked in the sport which he/she plays, the world outside would eventually perceive him/her to be the greatest of the sport. A situation like above distinctly reflects the complexity involved in classifying a tennis player as GOAT.
Serena Williams is honoured as GOAT, she palpably has an unprecedented career on the tour, she has immensely contributed to tennis for two decades now and in the near future, no tennis player can ever emulate her supremacy in tennis. Besides all her accolades in tennis, there are tennis experts who are reluctant to bestow Williams with the GOAT crown. They feel, for assigning that rank the other dimensions of tennis are to be evaluated. “I know it’s very fashionable these days to do it on the amount of grand slams you’ve won and there’s no dispute that she’s up there with the greatest names but after that it’s subjective,” Sam Smith, Channel Nine commentator said for Williams. “I don’t think it’s always accurate to make these judgments on grand slam titles alone, there are other factors that need to be considered”. Well, the words by Smith are simply insane and they prove nothing.
Moving on further with the GOAT debate, the WTA women who were considered for that echelon were Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Margaret Court and Serena Williams. By carrying out an analysis of the achievements of these WTA players, each one of them outnumbers the other women in one or the other aspect of their achievements. For instance, Court has won a startling number of 192 singles titles, Navratilova has the most impressive longevity on tour (having won the mixed doubles at the US Open in 2006, which was after 28 years since she seized her first grand slam singles title). In 1988 Graf went on to secure the Golden Slam (all four majors and the gold medal at the Olympics). Evert has the best winning percentage amongst all of them which computes to 89.97 per cent. Williams is still acing on the tour and tussling to make thriving records. So deciding upon conferring the GOAT status, it would lead to an intuitive analysis and diversity in everyone’s opinion. However, glancing at the impeccable records of the WTA women everyone is a GOAT in their own path.
The concept of GOAT in tennis is entirely a subjective topic. Firstly, there isn’t any transparent system or in other words, there is no sort unbiased analysis involved to judge a tennis player as GOAT. Every player on the circuit has worked fingers to the bone to etch their name on the ATP/WTA circuit. Granting the ‘greatest’ label to players would seem polite to the player who is receiving it, but however, in reality, it disparages the other diligent players on tour. In the Open Era of tennis, the title of a ‘Grand Slam’ is utterly synonymous to ‘greatest’. Grand Slams are the eventual trial in tennis but they solely cannot be contemplated upon to assign the GOAT status.