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Roger Federer Says Serena Williams May Be Greatest Overall Tennis Player Ever

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 08:  Wimbledon Singles Champions Serena Williams and Roger Federer attend the Wimbledon Championships 2012 Winners Ball at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel on July 8, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roger Federer called Serena Williams "one of the greatest, if not the greatest tennis player of all time" during an interview with Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal.

Federer, considered by many the greatest player the sport has produced, marvelled at Williams' rise to the top alongside sister Venus and father Richard.

Federer then clarified his original opinion by saying Williams may be the greatest "overall," not just among women tennis players.

The distinction made by the word "overall" is a significant one from the Swiss. It means Federer isn't limiting Williams' greatness to her dominance of the WTA circuit.

Williams' enduring talent has been recognised by the greats of her sport, including Federer.
Williams' enduring talent has been recognised by the greats of her sport, including Federer.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Instead, he's recognising her skills and accomplishments as distinctive in any arena of the sport. Gay noted the 36-year-old recounted numbers and titles attributed to Williams and Steffi Graf superior to any of the greats in men's tennis.

However, Federer didn't downplay his status in the history of the sport:

"But we know [Serena] is all the way up there. I'm probably up there with somebody, somehow. Maybe there's a group, a best of five—and if you're in that group, you should be pleased and happy. Tennis is a funky sport when it comes to that stuff.

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"I'm in full admiration of Serena. And Venus, too, by the way."

Federer considers himself among the best.
Federer considers himself among the best.Mike Frey/Getty Images

Gay also told how he mentioned the comment to Williams, who replied: "I think we can say that about both of us, respectively. He's done amazing things in his career—I have the utmost respect for him."

The records make Williams' case as the best ever hard to argue against. She's won 39 Grand Slams as both a doubles and singles competitor.

A more direct comparison with Federer shows Williams' 23 singles titles eclipse the 20 he has to his credit. Both will be involved at Wimbledon in July when Williams will bid for an eighth title at the All England Club, while Federer will aim for his ninth triumph.