According to a survey by ESPN, tennis is considered the 7th most difficult sport in the world. The tournament rules make it challenging for professional players to win titles, let alone a Grand Slam. In this sport, even one loss can result in elimination from the tournament with no opportunity for a second chance. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has over 1,000 players competing for the chance to win at least one major title in their career. However, three exceptional women have achieved over 20 major titles each. While Margaret Court is widely regarded as the best of her time, the debate over the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.) is still ongoing between Serena Williams and Steffi Graf, who are the only two women with 20 or more major titles in the Open Era.
Serena and Graf were first exposed to the sport by their fathers. At 14, Richard trained Serena to become a professional, while at just 13, Peter coached Graf to turn pro. This date, October 1, 1999, holds great significance in the world of tennis. It also perfectly embodies the well-known phrase “the end is the beginning.”
An exploration of the 1990s, a time when Serena Williams and Steffi Graf were competing adversaries.
The 22-time winner of the Grand Slam has won over the public with her adaptable forehand technique. Her inside-out forehand is widely regarded as one of the top shots in the sport of tennis. The renowned German player left her mark just five years into her professional career, and the tennis community is still on the lookout for someone to replicate her success. Graf began her 1988 season by claiming her first Australian Open title. Remarkably, she went on to win all three remaining Grand Slams that year.
Afterwards, at the Summer Olympics, Frauline Forehand dominated her opponents and earned a Gold Medal, making her the first to achieve the historic Golden Slam. October 1st marks the 26th anniversary of the German’s Golden Slam. Graf accomplished her first Grand Slam at the age of 17 in 1987. The following year, she made history as Americans dominated both the men’s and women’s tennis scene. She gained the nickname “Golden Girl” for her unmatched achievements and became well-known to the public.
In 1988, Steffi Graf achieved the Golden Slam by earning the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics. pic.twitter.com/mKgqbwlt9Y
Cannot reword. This is a Twitter handle for the US Open Tennis tournament on October 1, 2023.
At the age of eight, Serena was a young girl watching Graf dominate the court. Six years passed and she herself joined the ranks of professionals, while Graf remained undefeated and known as the “Golden Girl” of the game. It wasn’t until 1999, four years after turning pro, that Serena finally faced off against the German legend.
The older player emerged victorious in the confrontation of youth versus experience, but Serena did not simply give up the match. She managed to win a set against Graf, a feat that even more seasoned players had difficulty accomplishing.
The two famous athletes competed against each other on only two occasions prior to Graf’s retirement. ReRe was able to avenge her loss in the second match at the Indian Wells Masters finals, with both matches having very similar scores. The only variation was in the first set, with scores of 6-2 and 6-3.
Based on their limited meetings, Graf seemed to have a slight advantage over Serena, winning by only one game. However, Graf did not participate in many tour matches and surprised everyone by announcing her retirement in August. Interestingly, Momma Smash also had her most successful season in 1999.
With the support of Graf, Momma Smash reached new levels.
At the age of 30, Graf was victorious at the French Open and placed second at the Wimbledon Championships. However, she was forced to end her career due to a hamstring injury during her final match. This marked the end of Graf’s reign and the start of Serena’s dominance.
The initial competitor that the American had to defeat was her sister, resulting in perhaps the most well-known sibling rivalry in the world of sports. Following the Golden Girl, Venus Williams dominated the circuit.
Serena’s younger sister quickly caught up, while former top-ranked player Graf provided motivation throughout the journey. During a press conference in Cincinnati in 2015, the American champion shared that she feels like a child whenever Graf talks about her.
When the American tennis legend made it to the 20-plus Grand Slam club, the Fraulein Forehand cheered for Momma Smash as she achieved her 6th Wimbledon and 22nd major title in 2016. The 23-time Slam champion achieved the Serena Slam (winning all four Grand Slams in a row – not necessarily in the same year) for the second time the following year by winning her 23rd major in Melbourne.
In 2017, the incredibly talented superstar from Compton made history by becoming the first woman in the Open Era to hold the most major titles. Serena achieved her 23rd Slam while she was six weeks pregnant. However, it took her 25 years to reach this milestone, while the legendary German player Graf achieved 22 major titles in just 18 years. Graf retired at the height of her career when she was ranked as the WTA World No.3, while Serena retired at a lower ranking of 320 due to a year-long absence caused by a hamstring injury during the 2021 Wimbledon Championships.
The Golden Girl has won 107 singles championships, compared to the American queen’s 73. However, Graf did not prioritize doubles like Serena did. She has only won one Wimbledon doubles Grand Slam title, and mixed doubles was not her strong suit. On the other hand, Serena has 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles.
READ MORE: American Tennis Legend Andre Agassi Shows How to Enjoy Life With Wife Steffi Graf as They Capture Las Vegas’ Essence in Style
The United States has won 36 Grand Slam titles, while Germany has won 23. However, Graf’s high ranking and winning percentage made up for her focus on doubles matches. As analysts and experts debated on the greatest player, another G.O.A.T. shared her honest decision.
Margaret Court shares her opinion on who is the Greatest of All Time between Serena Williams and Steffi Graf.
During the final year of her professional career, Serena declared Graf as the top player. In an interview with Australian media, the 24-time Grand Slam champion shared her favorite WTA legends. She ranked Graf as her top choice due to her athleticism and style. Court also mentioned that she admires Graf and enjoys watching her play. Serena was chosen as the second best player after Graf, with the Australian acknowledging Serena’s impressive record and powerful serve.
Please take a look at this post on Instagram.
The tennis_stats account on Instagram shared a post from tennis_magazine.
The German holds the record for 377 cumulative weeks as the World No.1, while Serena spent 317 weeks in her relatively long career. But then, there are Olympics in which the American dominated, with 4 Gold medals, and Graf has one. Nonetheless, the Golden Girl is the only tennis player to have won each Grand Slam at least four times.
She’s been compared to a 30-year-old for her remarkable performance at the US Open and predictions of her future legacy, with strong symbolism linking her to Serena Williams.
Serena was unable to accomplish this because her French Open victories did not surpass 3. Both iconic players have an equal number of 5 titles for winning the WTA Finals. However, Graf holds the highest overall win percentage at 89.7%, while Serena’s is slightly lower at 86.8%. Momma Smash’s long career allowed her to achieve the most career victories and matches played among female players, including the most hard court titles at 47. The Hall of Famer also holds a “short” record that sparks debates once again.
Was Serena Williams able to overpower the Hall of Famer?
Graf has the fastest time for winning a Grand Slam final, accomplishing it in only 34 minutes. In the 1988 French Open, she defeated Natasha Zvereva in straight sets without losing a single game. Her performance was like that of a skilled artist completing a sculpture – flawlessly executed and impressive.
Serena’s determination, fortitude, and resilience are unparalleled, driving her to emerge victorious in every match, despite having to play through physical ailments, emotional struggles, and even pregnancy.
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Both of the previous top-ranked players have their individual achievements. While the American experienced a career low, Graf never faced the same downfall. She continued playing until she was unable to due to an injury. The German is known for staying out of the spotlight and only making appearances when required, whether online or in person. There is no definitive answer as to who is the greatest, and it is up to fans and experts to choose their personal favorites.
The amount of time that the World champions dedicated to their sport is incomprehensible, particularly for the American champion who spent a significant amount of time on the circuit. A standard three-set tennis match typically lasts around 90 minutes. To win a major title, one must achieve seven consecutive victories, totaling an average of 630 playing minutes. Winning over 20 Grand Slams requires 140 wins, which equates to approximately 210 hours. Graf achieved unparalleled success in a relatively short period, solidifying her as an unbeatable champion. Serena shattered barriers, transformed the sport, and pursued her other passions while remaining in the spotlight for her fans. It is impossible to determine who is the superior athlete between these two legendary figures; it ultimately depends on one’s perspective. Who do you believe is the greatest?
Observe this account: 23 years ago, Venus Williams made history alongside sister Serena Williams in a monumental day for American tennis.
Who is the true G.O.A.T – Serena Williams or Steffi Graf? A showdown between the tennis queen and the invincible legend. This question is being debated on EssentiallySports.