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  1. #1
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    Graf & Navratilova - The Never Ending Debate

    I sure hate to ask this question but I found myself watching a Martina Navratilova. story on TTC where one of the principle spokes persons was Billy Jean King, who made reference that in her opinion, there was no question, Martina is the Greatest Female Tennis Player to date. Well I seem to recall and thus researched just to make certain, the same Billy Jean had made quite another statement which was recorded in Tennis Mag. at the time Steffi Graf officially retired, Billie Jean King commenting to Peter Bodo in 1999, "Steffi is definitely the greatest women's tennis player of all time.". Well there you have it, I guess we can consider the case closed if you feel Billy Jean King's opinion is the end all of debate on any topic regarding Tennis. Quite frankly I would agree but others who share an opposing opinion argue that Martina's record of achievements thoroughly overshadow Steffi's and should without question be considered the best of all times.

    I've personally debated this issue to the point of exhaustion and one time in Huntington Beach, Calif. just before myself and three others were geared up to play a few sets of Hit the Yellow Ball. we got into the back-n-forth so passionately that it turned into a full blown argument resulting in two of the players packing up their gear and leaving before we even started playing tennis.

    Yeah it never ends but you are a fresh crop of ideas and I'd like to calmly ask which do you feel was the Greatest Female Player? Please spare me the, "Well if Monica hadn't of ... blah blah blah" because we can not talk about what if's we can only discuss what is.

    Martina Navratilova amounted (18) Grand Slam Singles Titles (167) Titles in all
    Steffi Graf banked (22) Grand Slam Singles Titles (107) Titles in all
    Margret Court gained (24) Grand Slam Singles Titles * (92) Titles in Open Era
    Chris Evert collected (18) Grand Slam Singles Titles (157) Titles in all
    Billy Jean King won (12) Grand Slam Singles Titles (84) Titles total in open era

    This is just to give a perspective of their incredible achievements which there's much more actually. Interestingly enough, all of the above have won a Slam Title on all four Grand Slam Events whereas in contrast, on the Men's Tour (in the open era) only Rod Laver & Andre Agassi have yet to achieve that honor.

    So the point is, one can argue achievements and Steffi Graf should win that argument given she's won more Singles Titles but Martina has won more titles which include her Doubles Titles. Also it should be noted that Steffi Graf won Grand Slam Titles in three generations of Players. She won Grand Slam Titles at the time Martina & Chris were at the top of the Women's Game. Then she of course won more Slam Titles while Players like Arantxa Sanchez, Monica Seles, Gabriel Sabatini, etc. were the top ranked players and then she won in 1999 against Martina Hingis, following that up with wins over the William's Sisters subsequently losing the Wimbledon Final to Lyndsay Davenport.

    Whereas Martina Navratilova, although attempted to compete with the afore mentioned, couldn't amount notable wins over the top raked players in Steffi's Age group and thereafter players like Serena & Venus.

    So my vote is for Steffi Graf
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  2. #2
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    A very thorough approach to this topic. Let me just add a few things, and even you say I should spare you with the Monica Seles story, there is still no doubt that Graf would have had about 10 grand slam titles less without getting rid of Seles. You mention Navratilova couldn't win against 3 generations of players. Well, she is 15 years older than Graf and she was playing during the time the racket industry made huge progress with the materials and due to this technical revolution some "older" players like Navratilova didn't really have the chance to adjust their type of game to the new circumstances, whereas Graf being so much younger started out with those new rackets. So the whole comparison about beating or not beating 3 generations of players hinks. And if we talk about the best player, shouldn't we talk about a complete player? For me a complete player is a player who can be top in singles AND doubles. And when you think that Graf concentrated only on singles to save energy, while Navratilova faced three times the amount of matches during a tough Grand Slam tournament and still managed to be successful in each and every draw, so who is the best player ever?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by saha View Post
    And if we talk about the best player, shouldn't we talk about a complete player? For me a complete player is a player who can be top in singles AND doubles. And when you think that Graf concentrated only on singles to save energy, while Navratilova faced three times the amount of matches during a tough Grand Slam tournament and still managed to be successful in each and every draw, so who is the best player ever?
    I chose this section of your post to respond to solely because as much as I adored Steffi Graf, I am always reminded of the total disrespect and show of complete selfishness she displayed at Wimbledon 99', when she partnered with John McEnroe in the Mixed Doubles competition and I believe, without looking it up, they had reached the semis when she bailed on him because she had also reached the finals of the singles competition and clearly in her mind, that overshadowed all else regardless of what her pulling out meant for John McEnroe, who looked to be on his way of gaining yet another Grand Slam Title and achieving it in his arguably strongest area of expertise, doubles. Not to mention he would have won with Steffi, which is yet another feather in one's cap.

    For her to pull out only because she was so focused only on her own personal achievements was in my opinion ironic that she would eventually lose to Davenport, when she most likely felt adding another Slam Title to her numbers was in the bag. For this, I lost a fair amount of respect for Steffi Graf and it only points to the old saying, "you never really know anyone".

    I used the term "adored" in referring to Steffi Graf but in all accounts, while watching her play throughout the years from the time she beat Chris Evert to gain her 1st Title (Tier II), I was never a huge fan of her style and/or technique of play.


    Quote Originally Posted by Saha
    and even you say I should spare you with the Monica Seles story, there is still no doubt that Graf would have had about 10 grand slam titles less without getting rid of Seles
    I have no idea where you came up with that number (10), therefore I nor anyone else for that matter could possibly discuss it on any level of intelligence and to use the phrase, "getting rid of Seles", suggest you have conclusive proof that Steffi Graf was infact a co-conspirator on the attack on Monica, reminiscent of Tonya Harding.

    These are not arguments I will be able to exchange our beliefs upon given they are filled entirely with speculations, innuendos and unsubstantiated conjecture that I would suspect borne from one who is moreso a non-admirer than one who is simply a believer that one was most likely better than the other.

    Fear not my friend, because given you're a member of our Community, that above all makes you someone I appreciate and will always look forward in discussing ideas with pleasure & anticipation. If we are to talk about Graf v Navratilova, let's keep it to - 'Just the Facts'

    You do make a good point when speaking about being a complete Player which is the sole reason, many people hesitate to crown Sampras and/or Federer as the GOAT given neither have achieved the coveted French Open Trophy. Therefore if I were to consider that as a barometer, I'd have to say with Martina's amass Doubles Titles, which I can go out on a limb in saying Pam Shriver probably contributed very little to those won, Martina would have a point more for those achievements.
    Last edited by Coach; 11-06-2008 at 04:32 PM. Reason: misspelled word correction
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  4. #4

    Fact

    Fact, I dont know who the best player was.
    Fact, I sure do belive it was MONICA

  5. #5
    I think they are all pretty amazing athletes. But, it is very hard to argue when you look at 1988.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southerngirl View Post
    I think they are all pretty amazing athletes. But, it is very hard to argue when you look at 1988.
    Of course as a Steffi Graf Fan, I was very pleased with her results in 1988. Having said that however, the level of competition wasn't imo the most impressive. When you think of someone reaching the Finals of a Grand Slam and being beaten without winning a single game i.e. the French Open, is indicative of the point.

    Our friend is obviously a big Monica Seles Fan and I appreciated Monica's contribution to the Sport as well. But more than that was, Monica again in my opinion was intricate in elevating Steffi's game. Finally there was qualified competition and Steffi had to rise to the occasion in order to remain at the top. Everyone knows how sad it was that Monica's dominance was thwarted by a manic who didn't think Steffi could stay on top as long as Monica was around and that's just unbelievable that Fans can be that insane.

    I mean, there were times I hated watching Monica beat Steffi but that's what Sports is all about. If every Team or Person I like won everything, what's the point of watching? I'm a huge Roger Federer Fan but I'm excited about Rafa Nadal's insurgence at the top. Roger will have to work harder if he wants to regain his status or we simply have a new King.
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  7. #7
    I agree with your point. Monica had some impressive results and who knows what would have happen in her career if she wasn't attacked.

    If the the level of competition was impressive why haven't other's done it? It is an amazing accomplishment now matter what the level was. Their have been times when others have had the same opportunity and still have not pulled off what Steffi did (to pull off all a Golden Slam). Don't get me wrong, I am a big Martina fan (as well as Little Mo, Court, BJK, Evert and many others). Steffi's achievement is still one of the most impressive out there.

    I think Court, BJK, and Martina are the most complete players (singles, doubles and mix).

    By the way, I'm not sure why it's coming up that I am a junior member. How do I fix it?

  8. #8
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    Hi Saha ~ Please read my response post to your comments about Monica vs Steffi very carefully. You should find that although I do take great exception to the notion that Steffi's accomplishments are meaningless because of the tragedy that occurred to Monica, I will always agree that Steffi was not a shoe-in for the Title if she faced Monica. Unfortunately, Tennis Fans for both Players will argue over this for years to come but History has its' quirks and there were reasons beyond what we mere Mortals can figure out as to why this happened. How do you think it makes Steffi Graf feel to know many people think Monica would have reduced the number of Slam Titles she currently has if that stabbing has not happened?

    But where does it stop my friend? If Mike Tyson had not been (what many people think) falsely accused of rap and spent much of his prime years in prison, he would have regained his Heavy Weight Title but when he got out, he was so out of shape that he could never reach that level again. And even if he was guilty, just the fact that he spent time in Jail thwarted the possibility of him achieving something no other Boxer had done before, was interrupted.

    And O.J.Simpson, although acquitted of the double homicide, has tainted his legacy forever. And what about those Tennis Players who were great but were not allowed to play because of their color, that might have made a difference in who became King of the Court.

    I know Rod Layer and when I think of what he did before the Sport of Tennis was sanctioned. Many of his successes came when he was considered an Amateur.
    And then we have the biggest disappointment of all, when I think about the tragic deaths of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Anwar Sadat. The incredible strides for people they were trying to accomplish, snuffed out because evilness exist in our World.

    The Professional Football Player, Barry Sanders (Running Back) who played for the Detroit Lions, was on his way to break the All-Time Rushing Record and considered by everyone to go down in history as probably the best Running Back there ever was. One day, he just walked away from the Game with no prior notice. People were dumbfounded because he was certain to break the all-time record within one single season of play. But without notice or reason, he just announced, he was done and that was that.

    Although it was horrible what happened to Monica, I for one believe Monica could have and should have returned to the game as quickly as physically possible, not just to get back to where she left off but to demonstrate that, these insane measures that Fans go through will not interrupt the fortitude of the Game.

    Professional Sports is for a special breed of person. Not just anyone can step into a ring, run with a football, hit a tennis ball, charge into a crowd of defenders to either make a Basket or Touchdown. Not everyone has the stamina to get up in the morning and start running for miles then go right onto the Gym and start working out, just to follow that up with then going to the Courts and hitting hundreds of balls over & over again because what they want can only be achieved by reaching deep within themselves for that something extra. That's what Athletes are not only expected to do each & every day of their lives but need to do if they want to realize their dream.

    I, as well as many others here, teach Tennis. I see each day that the vast majority of my kids have no real dream of making Pro someday. Actually, some have the gift already if they apply it but 99.9% of them are doing it for the enjoyment. I talk to many Students privately and ask what they want from Tennis and most will tell me, they are hoping to get degrees in Law, Business, Political Science, Etc. Maybe a couple will say, they want to go as far as they can.

    A friend of mine who also instructs Tennis, had a young kid who had serious weapons for his age and my friend Mac asked me to stop by during a local tourney to check him out. I did of course and agreed that this kid had it. I mean, he had that which you can not teach a person. They are born with it and this kid had it. His footwork was superior to anything I or Mac could possibly teach. His tracking ability was excellent and above all, he used fantastic strategy when playing a match but Mac told me, his Student was determined to have a Military Career like his Father. We both wondered if his Father was putting unfair pressure on him so Mac wanted me to accompany him when he went to talk to the father. As it turned out, both his father & mother have been trying to talk their kid into a Tennis Career.

    All of that was to make a point, Monica Seles was/is a Professional Athlete who had something you can not teach but she lacked something you can not understand. It was the ability to get back on the horse when it threw you off and hurt your butt. She gave her insane attacker far too much power. She allowed that pathetic person to accomplish what he set out to do. Maybe it was not his intention to kill Monica, as he stated but merely to ruin her career. Well you might not wish to acknowledge this or think I may be a monster in saying it but Monica allowed him to succeed by not immediately returning to the game when she was physically well enough.

    The WTA was gracious enough, along with Steffi Graf, who agreed to freeze Monica's Ranking at #1 until she returned. The WTA told Steffi that if she disagreed and held firm that although sad that Monica wasn't able to defend her ranking, once the new totals came out, if Monica's points made her fall in the rankings, then that's just too bad. But Steffi deemed it was only reasonable & fitting that Monica's Ranking remained at #1. In he meantime, Steffi played against whomever was across the net and as a result, became #1. So now we had two #1 Players in the World in the WTA.

    Tomas Muster, was hit by a drunk driver the night before he was to play Ivan Lendl in the Finals of the Lipton. His legs was shattered as a result of that accident and for all obvious assumptions, his career was over. But Tomas had a Champion's heart and decided to grind it out in the gym to regain his leg muscles back again. Months are tortured work sitting on a special prop to hold him up while he hit forehand & backhand shots. For his Coaches, it was nothing more than accommodating him while they secretly felt he was wasting his time. But as it turned out, he wasn't wasting time and did in fact not only return to the game but went on to become the best Clay Court Player in the World and winning the French Open.

    Tomas Muster decided not to allow this drunken driver the power of ending his career. Monica also had that some opportunity. We all love Monica and I for one, wish she had made a different choice at the time, even if it meant watching her come right back and beating Steffi again.

    I hope this is understood.

    Sincerely,

    Coach
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

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