With Drake's Help, John McEnroe Joins Chorus Of Praise For Serena Williams
LONDON -- "Last name 'Ever.' First name 'Greatest.' "
Drake's got a lyric for everything. The last two weeks, the rapper has been in Serena Williams' player box at the All England Club, where on Saturday he got a chance to see Williams win her sixth Wimbledon championship and her 21st Grand Slam title. All around the grounds, tennis legends weighed in on the accomplishment.
John McEnroe, who won three Wimbledon singles titles, has long thought Williams earned status as the greatest woman to play tennis.
"Three years ago, I thought she was the best to ever play, but it sort of cements it in historical terms," McEnroe said. "... To me, she could arguably be the greatest athlete of the last 100 years."
Chris Evert watched the win and reflected on the context -- comparing eras is always difficult, and she made history with three Wimbledon titles among her 18 Grand Slam singles championships.
"Martina Navratilova won 167 WTA events, I won , Serena's won 67," Evert said. "You've got to put Martina and Steffi [Graf] [in the conversation for] greatest of all time. [Serena] at her best could beat any of the former champions just because it's a better era in any sport. You've got better equipment, training techniques; it's a whole new generation. But it's impressive."
Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said sometimes when you see history in the making, it's hard to appreciate the challenge of it.
"It's easy to say, 'But Serena's better than everyone so this is normal.' This is not normal at all," he said. "She could have lost so many matches at Australia, at Roland Garros, at Wimbledon, and she every time found a way, but it's a tremendous effort, tremendous. That's why I feel sometimes people don't realize how incredible this it."
At 33, Williams became the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam title, surpassing by 26 days Navratilova and her Wimbledon title in 1990. But former top-10 player Mary Joe Fernandez said she doesn't see Williams slowing at all; on the contrary, she's playing some of her greatest tennis ever.
"She can keep going and keep winning," Fernandez said.
And next up is the US Open, where Williams will go for a calendar Grand Slam. The last woman to get that was Graf back in 1988. Williams already is looking ahead, and so are a lot of the former players who now analyze the game.
"This makes the US Open huge," Patrick McEnroe said.