Chris Evert. The darling of the media and the crowds in her heydays. She was and remains one of the most good looking champion that tennis has ever seen. Don’t let her good looks fool you, her powerful forehand can knock the teeth out of you. That powerful forehand helped her win 18 grand slams. I have seen her play a few times (mostly at the fag end of her career) and the thing I noticed about her was that she never ever gave up and she rarely showed emotion. The “Bjorn Borg” of women’s tennis. Her grip on the French Open is well remembered to this day and will probably be equaled after a long, long time. The reason why I did not choose her as the best tennis player is that as soon as Martina Navratilova came into the picture, she was always a step behind her. In the 14 finals that the two met, she lost to Navratilova 10 times!! She was a champion but not the best.
Martina Navratilova. I had to think long and hard before choosing Graf over Navratilova as the best player. Martina is the one player who did more for women’s tennis than anyone before (she carried the torch from Billy Jean King) or ever since. She was one of the few top ranked athletes from sports who came out of the closet in the 70s. To this day the repercussion of that decision reverberate in not only tennis but all sports. It must have been a very brave decision for Martina who chose to be a true person rather than a very rich person (the decision cost her millions of dollars in sponsorship). Her style of play was serve and volley and she did this with grace and flair which has been surpassed only by Graf and no other. She shed the sexuality aura that surrounded all women players and played as any other player. She loudly proclaimed “I am a tennis player and not a woman tennis player”. She has championed women’s rights in the game which saw the prize money rise as fast as the prize money for men and the women’s tournaments gained in respect especially her with regards to her rivalry with Chris Evert. She won on all the courts. A total of 18 grand slam titles prove that she is one of the best players of all time. So, why did I not choose her over Graf? I can’t think of any quality that Martina lacked : Grit, ability, mental strength, physical ability she had plenty of. It’s just that I think Steffi
Graf had more. And in the end the Grand Slam record did go to Steffi even though Martina’s singles and double records were hopelessly our of reach for Steffi. Further more Martina is still playing professionally (she won the doubles titles in Australia and Wimbledon in 2003). But bear with me and let me explain to you why I think Steffi is the best.