Is Serena Williams The Best Athlete Of Her Generation?
Serena Williams claimed her sixth Wimbledon title today, defeating Spain's Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4. It was Williams’s 21st career Grand Slam, one shy of tying Steffi Graf’s modern day record.
Williams is 33 – ancient by tennis standards, or should I say conventional tennis standards – and is the #1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world, and it’s not even close. What she’s accomplishing is almost unheard of.
That begs the question – is she the best athlete of our lifetime? Or at least of the 2000s?
Because I’m not a morning sports radio talk show, I won’t break it down by championships or combination singles/doubles wins or titles. And I won’t mention Lebron (okay, I won’t do it again) or Federer or Usain Bolt. I’m not sure you can compare athletes of different sports.
I’m not here to settle the debate, just to start the conversation. If you are going to talk about the best athlete of our time, Serena is right there. She has to be in the conversation.
Whether she is or isn’t the best is kind of a silly, but fun, discussion. Yesterday in the Daily Beast, I read something more important about Serena. Actually it’s about us.
We all know Maria Sharapova. We know that she “plays” tennis but we know her because she is, by most societal standards, gorgeous.
Williams has quintupled Sharapova’s prize money; she is 18-2 versus the model/tennis player, including 17 consecutive matches. But she makes half of what Sharapova makes in endorsements. Half.
Think about that. The exact opposite of that would be if Geno Smith made twice what Tom Brady does on endorsements. Or, to keep the correct “shading” of our analogy, imagine Jay Cutler making twice the endorsement money that Russell Wilson does.
So when we think about the best athletes of our generation, you might dismiss Serena quickly. But you shouldn’t, and if you do, think about what criteria you might be using to come to your conclusion.
Let's have that discussion too. It's more important.
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