Both Roger Federer and Serena Williams are undoubtedly the best tennis players of the modern era in the men’s and women’s games and are still going strong well into their thirties. Many also regard them as the Greatest of All-Time, or the GOAT, as it’s colloquially known, for their respective categories. But what if we took gender out of the equation and named a GOAT for all of tennis? A head-to-head of Serena and Federer.
Unsurprisingly, these are staggering.
Federer has won a record 18 Grand Slam titles, which includes a record-equalling 7 at Wimbledon. This sets him out as a cut above the rest with Nadal and Sampras a further four behind. There was talk of Djokovic possibly breaking this record but, as discussed previously on RealSport, the Serb has gone off the boil of late. In addition to his collection of Grand Slams, Roger has also won the ATP Tour Finals on six occasions, a record. He’s also appeared in more Grand Slam finals (28), been in 10 Grand Slam finals in a row and was world number one for almost six years straight.
Serena Williams has won 23 singles titles, more than Federer, but despite that being the highest total of the Open era, it’s not the highest ever. She is one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time tally. However, the American is still going strong and could equal that record before she retires.
But it is her doubles career that perhaps gives her the advantage in this contest. Alongside her sister, Venus, she has won no less than 14 doubles titles, one of the most successful pairings in history. She was even successful in mixed doubles, winning the 1998 US Open and Wimbledon tournaments. It could be argued that competing on two fronts during a Grand Slam is far easier for a woman, because there are generally less sets in matches, but these achievements cannot be ignored.
Roger probably never has been the best in the world at any specific aspect of the game, with the possible exception of his return game, but at his peak, he was in the top 3 in every category and that’s what made him succeed. Everything about him personifies coolness, he’s always calm, collected and a complete gentleman of a sportsman. You seldom see him smashing his racquet into the ground. He doesn’t even grunt either, a real rarity in the modern game, he is an absolute pleasure to watch.
Serena can simply overpower her opponents through brute strength, she has such an advantage over every other female tennis player in this respect. That’s not taking away from her skill, though, when called for she has excellent shot placement and can make her professional opponents look like amateurs.
Who would win in a head-to-head?
This obviously would never happen while both are still active professionals but it’s fun to theorise. It’s a titanic matchup that people have been calling for, for years. Even now, with Federer arguably declining I believe that he would win in a singles match against Serena Williams. It sounds harsh to say it but the top professional male tennis players are better than their female equivalents, there’s a reason why they’re separated for tournaments.
So, who is the GOAT?
This is a tough one to call. Both have been exceptional during their careers and more than deserve all the plaudits that they receive. Serena has more singles titles and has had huge success in doubles tournaments, while Roger in his prime would win in a head-to-head contest and is a joy to watch. I’m going to give it to Federer, on the basis that the men’s game has had much more strength in depth than the women’s during their era.
But who do you think is the GOAT? Federer, Serena or someone else? Let me know in the comments below!