The GOATS Of Tennis - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Opinion

The GOATS Of Tennis

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2019 3:23 pm

In the sporting world parlance of the day, the term GOAT has taken on an almost supernatural meaning. Today, GOAT is shorthand for “Greatest Of All Time”.

Spoiler alert! This letter is to urge Eagle readers to watch two superb tennis players perform in the U.S. Open tournament taking place in New York City, beginning on Monday, Aug. 26. They are, Serena Williams and Roger Federer. My premise is that they are the greatest tennis players of all time – true GOATS.

In that vein, my father brought me, as a child, to Braves Field in Boston (yes, there was another professional ball park in Boston besides Fenway Park back in the 30s) to see Babe Ruth in the waning days of his career. Dad pointed out the barrel chested Babe and said “There’s the greatest baseball player that ever played the game,” - a prescient GOAT. At the time, I was more impressed by the brilliant grass of the ballpark. I had never seen a playground with so much green grass!

In sports the word ‘goat’ has changed over the years, much as the word cleave, which can mean cut in half, or stick together. The typical goat of the past was someone who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by his failure in a crucial moment. A poster boy of this would be Bill Buckner of the Red Sox who allowed a gamed ending ball to trickle through his legs awarding the N. Y. Mets a World Series victory. My worst goat experience was when a Coronado tennis team needed a win in my doubles match to go to the Nationals. I lost in 3 sets! But, I digress. The subject is Serena Williams and Roger Federer as the Greatest Of All Time.

Serena Williams’s claim to be the greatest is easily justified by her many records, chief of which is winning 23 major singles titles. Only Margaret Court of Australia has more –one! But Court played in the era of country club players, and the game was not what it is today – with power serves and a degree of athleticism not dreamed about in her day.

Unbelievably, Williams came from the hard scrabble courts of Compton, California, first taught by her father, Richard, then bursting onto the tennis scene like a dynamo, in a basically white profession.

Serena Williams wears her emotions on her sleeve and will on occasion erupt over a line call or an assessed penalty. John McEnroe and Serena may have gone to the same anger management school, but McEnroe’s anger was largely feigned to get his fan base back into the game; with Serena, her anger is always sincere, never manufactured.

As Serena bludgeons her opponent into submission with powerful strokes, the unflappable Roger Federer is more a silent assassin setting up his opponent for a tennis shot that will be unreturnable. Roger has remained over the last 20 years a total gentleman and class act for others to emulate. Today’s male hierarchy in professional tennis all bow their racquets, like sheaves, before Roger, the wizard of winning, as much for his demeanor and sportsmanship, as his many trophies and titles.

The peerless Serena Williams and Roger Federer, in my book are on the Mt. Rushmore of tennis, head and shoulders above the other gifted athletes that toil in their trade below. Only Mt. Olympus awaits Serena and Roger. Sadly, we may not see their like again, so watch them when you get the opportunity over the next few weeks.

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Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Rod Neilson posted at 10:09 am on Tue, Sep 3, 2019.

    Rod Neilson Posts: 1

    We all like to talk about the "GOAT" in any given sport, however, I think we tend to forget our history and focus more on modern athletes. In tennis, however, there is only one "GOAT"...for men and women. Martina Navratilova won 59 grand slam titles. 59! Those titles spanned from 1974 to 2006. She won 167 professional singles tournaments and 177 professional doubles tournaments. I'm sorry, but no one has come close to that and the way professional players nowadays like to save themselves for the much more lucrative singles titles, those records will stand a very long time. Navratilova simply loved playing tennis and she did so in an era where she was not always popular with the American spectators. Her social life was always under a microscope and she was whoopin' up on the beloved Chrissie Evert. She was a pioneer when it came to fitness for professional tennis players. In my humble opinion, there has never been a better tennis player to walk this earth.