I have been avoiding this question for a long time now but it’s time to take the plunge.
Who is the Greatest Tennis Player of all time?
The problem is that my interest in tennis started sometime in 1980 while watching my dad play in Zambia. At that point the only tournament that was aired on the national Zambian TV was the Wimbledon and that too just the semi-finals and finals. So my exposure to the game was quite limited. My dad used to make me sit with him while he would give a running commentary on the play. I think he was disappointed that I never really asked him that manyquestions on the game.
I remember a player who would, after winning the match, would jump all around the court pointing to all the spectators. That was Jimmy Connors. He was my favourite in those days. And there was the fiery John McEnroe whom my father loved…..more for his antics than his game, I am sure. And then there was Borg. What can one say about Borg? Connor pumping his fist all the
time, McEnroe lashing at everyone and Borg would not bat an eyelid except at the end of the match when he would go down on his knees.
In those days the games between women players never really appealed to me. It could be that the matches were actually quite boring or my pre-teen “girl hating” days were still in full swing. Either way, I never really paid muchattention to ladies matches until 1987.
In 1982 once I joined the boarding school (Punjab Public School – PPS) I was asked if there is any game I want to focus on. I chose tennis. I was never really good at playing tennis (am still quite below average) but I loved to chase the ball like Jimmy Connors and try and smash it over the net. The game was not taught with any vigour in the school. We were told to buy racquets and balls were given to us (which we were told to hold on to for the next month or so) and whack the balls around. No nuances of the game were told to us. We did not know what a top spin shot was; we did not know what a back hand slice was and serve? Just chuck the ball over the net, it’s
acceptable. Over the vacations, my dad would teach me everything I knew but he would loose patience with me quickly.
Anyway, I digress.
It would be unfair of me to not include players throughout the history of tennis but the truth is that I have no idea about how the players played before 1980. I can go the books and find out but it’s just not the same. I have no idea what kind of forehand they used, I have no idea what kind of serve they served, I have no idea how they reacted to pressure, I have no idea how they handled themselves on court. So, I will amend the question to:-
Who is the Greatest Tennis Players in the modern era (1980 onwards)?
I am going to say it right away. The greatest tennis player in the history of tennis is : Steffi Graf.
“WHAAAAAT? Steffi? You did not even make a case for her.” you would say.
Well, I will make my argument in the next post. But trust me, the best tennis player that the world has ever seen is Steffi Graf.