It was an epic win that gives Serena what should be viewed as an indisputable claim to being not just the best player in women's tennis right now, but ever.
The numbers do not bear this out...for either claim. She will maintain her No. 4 world ranking and her 15 Grand Slam titles has her fourth behind the 18 of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and the 22 of Steffi Graf.
However, this argument cannot be waged on numbers alone. I'll let another U.S. Open champion explain that. Here is Kim Clijsters, as quoted by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times, on Serena:
I mean, to me Serena is the best ever. Because I think physically she just stands out. When she’s in good shape I think she just stands out tremendously. She’s fast, she’s strong, she has a very good eye, as well. I think the combination of that is — what we have seen over the last few months is the best player ever.
Clijsters is right on the mark here. When Serena is healthy and focused, she is a cut above her competition. She is the complete package. This argument is not based solely on the fact that Serena's combination of power and speed can't be matched either.
After all, given advances in equipment and training in the natural progression of time, greatness has to be measured in comparison to the players of their time, and Serena shines here as well.
The best example of this is her longevity. Her win at the U.S. Open came 13 years after her first major, which was at this tournament in 1999. No player in the history of tennis has won a major that long after their first.
Serena is as dominant as she ever was. She has won 26 of her last 27 matches, which includes her winning two majors and Olympic gold, and this is coming against an entirely different era of players than when she beat Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis to win her first major.
And she is not done yet. Considering how she is playing now, she is absolutely the favorite to win the Australian Open, and it would be a shock if she did not win at least one major next year. Not that she needs to do any of that to secure her legacy.
Given Serena's talent, sustained dominance over her competition and her longevity, she can already lay claim to being called the greatest ever.
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