The question has been asked endlessly: Is Serena Williams the greatest of all time? Perhaps it depends on how you slice the numbers, but the fact of the matter is that it's hard to argue she's not. As the world No. 1 embarks on the final leg of her season-Slam adventure, a feat only three women in history have accomplished, the query won't cease any time soon.
Pam Shriver has been around the game for more than four decades, winning 112 doubles titles before embarking on a career as an announcer. She has seen her share of greatness. When Shriver was asked whether she thought Serena was the best to ever play, the 2002 International Hall of Fame inductee did not hesitate.
"No question," Shriver said. "It's hard to match her longevity of greatness. That coupled with her record in finals [21-4] and her record in major women's doubles finals [13-0], not to mention her incredible record over her rivals.
"And look at what she has done in her 30s alone. Add it up and that says to me she is the greatest ever -- no matter what she does in New York. She doesn't need the season Slam to solidify herself as the best."
While Serena will dominate the headlines, and the rhetoric of her place in history will persist throughout the US Open, there are other storylines to follow. We gave Shriver five other seminal storylines to think about in the form of true or false. Here is what she had to say:
Nick Kyrgios is bad for the game
False: He is a dynamic young player with flair. Hopefully, he will mature so he can see his best side, all that his game has to offer, more often. We don't want to see his controversial side like we did in Montreal. But he needs to start winning, and winning with class and dignity to restore his broken image. He's had a history now of this kind of behavior, which is only hurting him on the court. But if he can show some maturation, he has all the shots and is capable of winning big and grabbing the spotlight.
2015 will be Venus Williams' last playing full time
False: I believe the Olympic year next season is more likely to be her last on tour. She is still a player who can have glimpses of being a top player and winning big titles. But we should also expect to see a player with a wide range in quality of play. She'll have some great events where she can take out a top player or two, and others where she is going to lose in the opening round. But no matter what is in store for Venus, she is going to handle it like a pro and with good sportsmanship. I think she realizes what the reality of her game is, but she is going to leverage everything she has until she decides she has had enough.
The best of Rafael Nadal is behind him
True: Look, he can still win more majors, but he's not going to dominate like he did in his greatest years when he was winning French Open title year in, year out. He became an excellent hard-court player as well; he has won each Slam. For Nadal, the question is obviously whether he can remain healthy, but this season he has shown psychological vulnerability. In the past, when he was hurt, he never showed any mental frailty, but couple his mental issues with any physical problems (and granted he has been healthier this year than in year's past), but it's hard to be a champion, never mind just a successful player, if you're ailing both mentally and physically.
Equal center court time is a problem
True: But only in some major events. Not at the US Open, but at the other three. Considering the cultures of England, France and Australia, it's going to be a while before they market women's tennis equally and before they perceive women's tennis on a level playing field with the men. This compared to the US Open, which established equal court time for men and women in 1973. But I will say it doesn't need to be equal in terms of time spent on court. The answer is not to have women play three out of five sets but schedule the same number of matches on the show courts. That said, we also have to recognize this is one of the most glorious years we've seen on the men's side. And it's hard not to schedule the top men. But it comes in ebbs and flows. There will come a time when the same number of marketable, dynamic champions on the women's side will be equal or even surpass the men.
Novak Djokovic is no longer the favorite to win the US Open
False: Given his year in majors and the fact that the Slams are three out of five sets and also the fact that he has lost only one Slam match all year, he has to be the favorite. He's the best hard-court player in game. But I do worry about him physically. Djokovic has a great team to help solve that problem by next week, though. He raises his level in major tennis, so the only concern I would have is if he is not raising his level during the first week.