Is Serena Williams the best female tennis player of all time? Her victory over Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in this year’s Wimbledon Finals is definitely a step in that direction. This is her 5th Wimbledon victory (she also won in 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2010) and her 14th Grand Slam title (she has 3 U.S. Open, one French Open, and 5 Australian Open titles). Though she doesn’t rank first in titles, she’s already out-earned the competition: Serena Williams has won more prize money than any other female athlete.
Impressively, her win at Wimbledon is an accomplishment that comes when many thought her career was over. The 30-year-old was hospitalized in May 2011 for a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lungs. That September, she was the runner-up in the U.S. Open, losing to Australian Samantha Stosur. That Williams was able to compete at all is an achievement, and nearly winning is an unbelievable one. Even so, it wasn’t until this year’s win at Wimbledon that the question of how competitive Williams could be was answered.
Formerly No. 1 ranked John McEnroe declared Serena to be the best player of all time after Wimbledon, but what will she need to really live up to that ranking? Four more Grand Slam titles would tie her with Chris Evert and Martina Navritilova, who currently occupy second place behind Steffi Graff’s 22 singles titles.
Nevertheless, there’s more to judge by than just the number of titles: Graff achieved what’s called a “Calendar Year Golden Slam,” by winning all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold, an achievement that demands both endurance and the ability to compete on all surfaces. If Serena goes on to win in the London Olympics, as it’s predicted that she may, adding an Olympic gold in singles to the two she already has in doubles will go a long way to proving that she still has the power to consistently dominate.
If she’s not the best female player of all time, then one thing’s for certain: she and her sister Venus are the best sibling pair of all time. Together, they’ve won 13 Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles, including Wimbledon 2012, and Venus adds another 7 Grand Slam singles titles to give the pair a total of 21 between them. A Williams sister has won in ten of the last 13 Wimbledon tournaments, and Serena and Venus are ranked first and second in total championships among the currently active players. As a doubles team, they’ve won two Olympic gold medals, in 2000 and 2008. If their third gold comes more than a decade after their first, their enduring legacy will be cemented.