Whenever anyone talks about the greatest female tennis players of all time, there’s an implicit edge, a hint that, oh, they’re good … but they’re not as good as the men. And while that’s objectively true, greatness comes in many forms, and one of the greatest of all time says that Serena Williams stands atop the tennis pyramid … the entire pyramid.
In a wide-ranging interview in the Wall Street Journal, Roger Federer takes a moment to discuss Williams’ career and return to the game after becoming a mother.
“She had a totally different upbringing — I came up through Switzerland with the federation, she did it with her dad and her sister,” Federer says. “It’s an amazing story unto itself — and then she became one of the greatest, if not the greatest tennis player of all time.”
Asked to clarify whether he meant greatest woman or greatest overall, Federer didn’t hesitate: “Overall.”
The numbers back up his claims. Federer himself is the winningest major champion in men’s tennis, with 20 Grand Slam singles titles. But Serena has 23 Grand Slam titles, second all-time, as well as 14 doubles titles, fifth all-time.
Federer notes that “it’s not fair to compare” players across eras, given the differences in technologies and travel since tennis’s earliest days. “But we know [Serena] is all the way up there. I’m probably up there with somebody, somehow. Maybe there’s a group, a best of five — and if you’re in that group, you should be pleased and happy. Tennis is a funky sport when it comes to that stuff.”
So there you go. Roger Federer says Serena’s the best ever. You want to argue with him?
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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