I took a 5-year hiatus on GOAT columns in relation to men’s tennis. I think women’s tennis has seen that debate more or less dissolve over the past 5-years. Serena Williams has a pretty strong claim to being the best ever. Tonight’s semifinal win should be compared to who played in various finals in 1999.
- The 1999 US Open men’s final Andre Agassi d. Todd Martin in 5 sets
- Agassi reached his first Grand Slam semifinal in June 1988 and reached his last Grand Slam final in September 2005.
- The 1999 NBA Finals saw the San Antonio Spurs beat the New York Knicks in 5 games.
- Tim Duncan did rise to prominence in the 1994-95 NCAA season and was MVP of the 1999 NBA Finals. Duncan retired in 2016 so he did have over 20 meaningful years in basketball, but as much as I love NCAA hoops he played in the NBA from 1997-2016 and was not one of the top players when he retired.
- Lennox Lewis was the world heavyweight champion for most of 1999
- John Elway won the MVP of Superbowl 33 in January 1999 for the 1998 NFL Season
- 4 Different Golfers won Majors on the PGA Tour – Jose Maria Olazabal (Masters), Payne Stewart (US Open), Paul Lawrie (British Open), and Tiger Woods (PGA Championship)
- Tiger did win his first major in 1997 and his most recent in 2019, but even the most ardent golf fan must acknowledge that running and mobility are not part of golf making longevity much different than most sports.
I don’t bring these up to suggest that Andre Agassi should be making a run at the 2019 US Open. That would be silly given that he made his first waves as a pro in 1986.
My point is that the sports landscape was radically different two decades ago. Yet, Serena Williams is still here.
It would be nice to see Serena win 24th major in singles, but Serena Williams winning 12 of 13 matches in her two most recent majors two decades after winning a first major is unreal.