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How Serena Williams ranks against the top-10 men of all-time

SNIPdaily logo SNIPdaily 09-11-2018 Canyon Clark, SNIPdaily
Serena Williams holding a racket © Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In 2017, tennis legend John McEnroe stated that if Serena Williams was playing on the men’s tour she would rank somewhere around No. 700. This was immediately followed by backlash from tennis fans and the media, some saying that this ranking was too high, with most saying that it was too low.

Ranking Williams against the men would be absurd, based simply on the difference in power in the two games. What we can do, however, is put Serena’s career accomplishments and influences up against those of the best men to see where she ranks in terms of her legacy.

10. Ivan Lendl, Czechoslovakia

The most dominant player of the 1980s, Lendl was a big server before being a big server was cool. The top-ranked player in the world for four years, Lendl won eight Grand Slam singles titles with only Wimbledon eluding him.

A player known for his powerful forehand and his level of conditioning, Lendl won 144 titles during his 16-year career.

a man holding a racket © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

9. Andre Agassi, USA

Agassi had such a cultural impact on the sport, that it is easy to forget he was also one of the best players of all time.

He had an attitude and look that was pure 80’s power metal, but he also had the tennis ability to back up his unique look and style. With 61 career titles, eight Grand Slam singles titles, and an Olympic Gold medal, Agassi won just about everything possible in the game.

8. Roy Emerson, Australia

Emerson is a player often passed over as a great of the game. He won 12 Grand Slam singles titles in a career that started just before the Open era began.

What makes Emerson unique is that he also won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles during his career. His total of 28 slams is the most of any male player in history, and he won many of those doubles titles while also winning the singles title at the same event, doubling his workload in the process.

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7. Bjorn Borg, Sweden

Borg is a hard player to rank on a list like this. His 10-year career was very short by tennis standards, but when he was at his peak he dominated the game as few others have in the history of the sport. The ability to win 11 Grand Slam titles before retiring at 26 was (and still is) unprecedented.

Borg won Wimbledon five times and the French Open six times. We can only speculate as to how he would be seen in the all-time ranking had he not retired in his prime.

Pete Sampras et al. looking at the camera © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

6. Pete Sampras, USA

When Sampras retired in 2002, a case could have been made that he was the greatest player of all-time. In the subsequent decade and a half, we have seen three players take the sport to a new level, but that shouldn’t discount the achievements of Sampras and his 14 career Grand Slam titles.

Wimbledon was where Sampras did most of his damage, winning seven championships, while his futility on clay at the French open knocks him down a level from the players ahead of him on this list.

a man holding a microphone © Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

5. Novak Djokovic, Serbia

As the youngest of the Big Three (along with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer) that have ruled the courts for a decade and a half, Djokovic still has time to move higher on this list. His battles against Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Andy Murray are legendary, with the Serb totaling 14 singles Grand Slams at the end of 2018.

A stellar run at the back end of his career – likely at his favored tournaments of Wimbledon and the Australian Open – could put him in the top two of all-time.

4. Rod Laver, Australia

Laver is a player from a bygone era, given how tennis has evolved since his peak in the mid-to-late 1960s. The Australian won 11 Grand Slams over the course of his 15-year career, winning each slam at least twice, and none more than the four crowns he claimed at Wimbledon.

The game is faster and harder hitting today, but any player that was No. 1 in the world for seven straight years and who won a ridiculous 200 career titles deserves to be featured high on this list.

Serena Williams sitting on a stage © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. Serena Williams, USA

It is hard to argue against Williams as the best female tennis player of all time. You can make an argument that the 23-time Grand Slam winner (at the end of 2018) is also the best female athlete of all time. The same argument would be hard to make for any of the men on this list, with the exception of our No. 1 choice.

Williams has been utterly dominant when she has chosen to be, and the only element keeping her from being higher on this list is that she hasn’t always been entirely focused on tennis and sometimes goes a little too far.

Rafael Nadal hitting a ball with a racket © Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

2. Rafael Nadal, Spain

Nadal is a freak of nature on clay courts. He has also managed to win the second most Grand Slam singles titles of all time (17 as of 2018), despite playing in the same era as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Without those two in the game – and with fewer injuries to his wrists and knees – we could easily have seen Nadal have 25+ Slams by the end of his career.

As it stands, he will have to live with being the most dominant player in the history of the French Open.

Roger Federer standing in front of a crowd © Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

1. Roger Federer, Switzerland

Federer has reached the point in his career where he is considered the No. 1 men’s player of all-time. In an era with some notable rivals listed above, Federer has spent hundreds of weeks on top of the men’s world ranking and he has claimed the most Grand Slam titles ever by a man, with 20 as of the end of 2018.

Related slideshow: Serena Williams through the years (Provided by photo services)

He has an aggressive and athletic style perfectly suited for modern TV, and his tactical approach to the game has made him the best to ever play the sport.

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