MELBOURNE (AFP) – Serena Williams hopes to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 singles majors at next week’s Australian Open but many already regard her as the greatest women’s player of all time – though Court herself is not necessarily among them.
Over the years, Court has expressed admiration for Serena’s achievements but the Australian also bristles when her own record is dismissed as largely irrelevant in the world of modern tennis.
The 76-year-old won 13 of her 24 Grand Slams before 1968, when the women’s game entered the Open era and became fully professional.
Court won 24 singles Grand Slams from 1960-73 – 11 Australian Opens, five French Opens, three Wimbledons and five US Opens.
Serena’s tally stands at 23 since 1998 – seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledons and six US Opens.
Chris Evert, who won 18 singles Slams, believes the standard of today’s game is so far above previous eras that comparisons are meaningless.
“Of course Serena is the best ever,” she told CBS last year. “A case can be made (for others), but it’s really ridiculous. We were the best in our era. Serena is the best in her era.”
For former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, Court isn’t even in the conversation when it comes to the greatest of all time.
He regards Steffi Graf, with 22 Open-era singles majors, as Serena’s only serious rival, pointing out that in 1988 the German won all four Slams and Olympic gold in a calendar year.