All good things must come to an end. The same goes for great things, like Brett Favre's 297 straight starts -- which ended Monday night. In his honor, we look at these five fantastic tennis streaks:
Chris Evert's 13 consecutive years with a Grand Slam tournament win
It's the most impressive tennis record to me for a few reasons: First, Evert couldn't avoid her principal rival, Martina Navratilova, in achieving this. Indeed, Navratilova often waited in finals, and though she won 10 such encounters, Evert beat her four times for a major title. Second, in only five of these years (1974-86) did Evert play all four Grand Slam tournaments, so she had fewer chances to extend the streak. Third, and maybe most telling, how many pros actually play -- let alone contend for Slams -- for 13 years? Not many at all.
Roger Federer's 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals
Evert had more -- 34, from 1971 to 1983 -- but as mentioned, she didn't play all four of the majors in many of those years. Federer did, and starting at Wimbledon in 2004, he reached the final four of every Slam tournament until the 2010 French Open, when Robin Soderling beat him in the quarterfinals. Scores of opponents were drubbed on clay, grass and hard courts to set this incredibly high bar, but Federer also won when he wasn't at his best. He more than doubled the previous record, 10 straight Slam semis, held by Ivan Lendl.
Martina Navratilova's 74-match winning streak
That's what Navratilova responded with after her loss to Hana Mandilkova in the 1984 Virginia Slims of California final in January. She wouldn't lose again until December, to Helena Sukova at the Australian Open. In between, Navratilova beat Evert three times for Grand Slam titles and was pushed to three sets just six times (twice by Mandilkova). The longest such streak in men's tennis is 46 consecutive match wins, held by Guillermo Vilas.
Rafael Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay
If there was a low point to Nadal's breakout 2005 season, it took place during the clay tournament in Buenos Aires, where he lost 0-6, 6-0, 6-1 to Gaston Gaudio. A few months later, Igor Andreev beat Nadal on clay in Valencia. Then no one did -- until 2007. It's the longest single-surface winning streak in the Open era. And for good measure, since Federer ended the run in Hamburg, Nadal won 82 of his next 85 clay-court matches.
Pete Sampras' six consecutive seasons as year-end No. 1
All of these streaks required consistency, but Sampras' achievement demanded a different kind. You need to beat one person to win a match, and five to seven opponents to win a tournament. You need to beat everyone in the rankings to finish a season No. 1. Sampras did that six years running, from 1993 to 1998. Honorable mention: Federer's 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1, from Feb. 2, 2004 to Aug. 17, 2008.