With a fifth U.S. Open women's championship to her name, Serena Williams would have to be considered the greatest female champion Flushing Meadows has ever seen.
The world No. 1 will play for the U.S. Open women's title for the seventh time on Sunday evening in Queens, looking to successfully defend her title for the first time in her career.
But while a fifth title at the U.S. Open would leave Williams one shy of Chris Evert's Open era record of six, it would tie her with Steffi Graf for second on the all-time list. Even better, though, it would mean that Williams was able to win five times over a span of 14 years.
Williams first broke through at the U.S. Open in 1999 as a teenager, and she last won in 2012 as a 30-year-old veteran. A win this weekend would make the soon-to-be 32-year-old Williams the oldest U.S. Open women's champion of the Open era.
While tremendous cases could still be made for Graf and Evert, Williams' longevity and overall ability give her the edge.
To win five championships in a span of 14 years, crossing three different decades would put Williams in a class of her own. Evert won her six titles from 1975 to 1982, while Graf won her five from 1988 to 1996.
Williams also passes the eye test. Although she only played Graf twice in the early part of her career before the German legend retired and never got a chance to match up against Evert, Williams' unrivaled serve and athleticism elevate her in the conversation of all-time greatest player.
Even Evert considers Williams the "greatest" tennis player to come along, per The Times of India's Moushumi Bora:
When she is at her best, she is better than the rest. At 31, she is still going strong. She looks more calmer, determined than before. She is chasing records now and knows her place in history. Although she has won 16 Grand Slam titles and way behind Margaret Court's 24, I think she's the greatest tennis player that we've ever seen up until this point. She completely dominates her rivals when at her best.
Evert makes a great point about Williams' dominance when she's on the very top of her game. In 2013, Williams has yet to drop a set en route to the women's final. Even more impressive, she has lost only 16 games total through the first six rounds.
Would you consider Serena Williams the greatest US Open women's champion with a 5th title?
She has won five of her 12 sets at love, running her consecutive games won streak to two dozen from the Round of 16 to the semifinals.
Another straight-sets win in the women's final would cap off Williams' dominant run in style.
But just as Evert mentions, Williams "is chasing records now," and if she can stay healthy, there's no reason to believe she can't add to her U.S. Open title count in 2014 and beyond. When you're as fit and focused as Serena, age is but a number.
With a fifth career U.S. Open crown, Williams would tie Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, who each have five on the men's side.
Only five other tennis players in the Open era—male or female—have won five U.S. Open titles. Williams would be the third female to accomplish the feat, and by far the greatest given her level of play in New York and the length of her reign.
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