Commentary: Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player of all time. Case closed.

Photo courtesy of Hamish Blair/Associated Press

Commentary: Serena Williams is the greatest tennis  player of all time. Case closed.
March 03
13:04 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Let us be abundantly clear about this fact. Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player of all time. Stop the doubt and embrace the truth.

Some media have compared her to other players. Stop it because there is no comparison.

The Australian Open is over and Serena lost in the semifinals to the eventual winner, Naomi Osaka. Serena does not need another major title to be the greatest. Serena Williams has won on every surface, indoors and outdoors, for decades. She is a once-in-a-lifetime generational player.

When she leaves the tennis scene, we will not see another like her. Do not get me wrong. There are and will be other great players. However, Serena has left a mark of greatness on the sport that will not be duplicated.

Some years ago, there was an expression attached to basketball great, Michael Jordan. It was “Be Like Mike.”

Now the same moniker will be attached to Serena, “Be Like Serena.”

She has won so many tournaments over time that she is now playing against players that were once babies in the crib. Her high level of playing tennis is unmatched. Comparisons to her are useless and do not hold water.

Serena has won 73 singles titles. She and her sister, Venus, have been a dynamic duo over the years. Venus has captured 49 singles titles and together they have won 22 doubles titles. Both are Olympic gold medalists and world ambassadors for the game.

Serena Williams, the legend, is not a “part” of the conversation. She is the conversation.

While born in Saginaw, Michigan, her tennis journey began in Los Angeles, California, on public courts. Her father, Richard Williams, was her first coach. He did not have a tennis background.

Fast forward to the present day. Her coach is Patrick Mouratoglou. He has been her coach since 2012. Serena has consistently been at the top of the tennis rankings. She has been ranked number 1 for a total of 319 weeks.

The reports show that Serena holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles among active players. Her accomplishments cannot be compared. Trying to say otherwise is literally unwise.

Other great players have been on the tennis stage. Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert come readily to mind. However, we cannot forget Althea Neale Gibson.

Althea Gibson was the first African American player to win a Grand Slam title in 1956. If you are a tennis fan, then you know the term Grand Slam. If you are not, it refers to the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S Open.

Players who have defeated Serena usually lose in the next round. Why? It is because they consider playing her the match of their life. As a result, it is hard for them to keep up their competitive edge for the next match.

Records and Serena Williams are synonymous. Every time she takes the court, she is breaking a record.

Serena has won 23 major tennis championships. The record of 24 is held by Margaret Court of Australia.

Those affiliated with tennis have long since determined that Serena Williams is the greatest of all time. Winning a 24th major will be nice, but it is not required.

Let us enjoy the grace, style and winning ways of Serena Williams because we will miss her when she is gone.

So as you watch this champion, you can emphatically and unequivocally say that you are watching the greatest of all time.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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