Tennis: Sport of Kings & Queens

On January 31, Novak Djokovic (SER) defeated No. 2 Andy Murray (GBR) 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) in Melbourne, capturing a record sixth Australian Open title, and tying Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg with his 11th Grand Slam title.

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic, now 5th all-time in career Slams, was completely disrespected by the American sports media led by ESPN, SI, etc… when he wasn’t named Sportsperson-(or at least Co-Sportsperson)-of-the Year, in 2015.  Serena Williams is amazing, but so is Novak Djokovic, and what he does is tougher– playing on the ATP. [1]

Djokovic 2

This is the current career men’s singles tennis Grand Slam top 8 list:

Player                     Career Slams    AUST   FRENCH   WIMBLEDON  USO

1  Roger Federer SUI     17                       4              1                 7                   5
2  Rafael Nadal ESP       14                       1             9                  2                  2
2  Pete Sampras USA    14                       2             0                  7                  5
4  Roy Emerson AUS     12                       6             2                  2                  2
5  Novak Djokovic SER  11                       6             0                  3                  2
=  Björn Borg SWE          11                       0             6                  5                  0
=  Rod Laver AUS           11                       3             2                  4                  2
8  Bill Tilden USA             10                       0             0                  3                  7

Roger Federer

On the women’s side, Serena Williams came to Australia as the favorite, and she lived up to it, until she ran into No. 7 Angelique Kerber (GER) in the finals. Kerber raised her game & persevered 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to win her first major title. Afterwards Williams said she’s “not a robot”, and she may be attempting to live up to an impossible standard, at age 34. She’s still pretty good. Here’s the current all-time women’s singles top 8 list:

Player                     Career Slams    AUST   FRENCH   WIMBLEDON  USO

1  Margaret Court AUS         24              11            5                   3                 5
2  Steffi Graf GER                 22              4              6                   7                 5
3  Serena Williams USA        21              6              3                  6                 6
4  Helen Wills USA                19              0              4                  8                  7
5  Martina Navratilova USA  18               3              2                  9                 4
=  Chris Evert USA               18               2              7                  3                 6
7  Billie Jean King USA         12               1              1                  6                 4
8  Monica Seles YUG/USA    9               4              3                  0                 2

Serena Williams

The biggest asterisk on the women’s career list relates to one of the ugliest incidents in the history of modern professional sports. On April 30, 1993, Monica Seles was the victim of an on-court attack in Hamburg. Günter Parche, an obsessed fan of Steffi Graf, ran from the middle of the crowd to the edge of the court during a break between games, and stabbed Seles with a boning knife between her shoulder blades.

German authorities quickly ruled out political motivation for the attack, even though Seles was known to have received death threats in relation to the ongoing conflict in her native Yugoslavia. Parche was charged but never jailed for the public stabbing.  He was found to be ‘psychologically abnormal’, and was sentenced to two years’ probation and psychological treatment.

Monica Seles was 19 years old at the time of the assault, and had already won 8 Grand Slams. Steffi Graf, age 24 had already won 11 Grand Slams, but had clearly been surpassed by Seles. Monica Seles rejoined the WTA in 1995, and added a fourth Australian Open title in 1996, but was never the same player again.

Monica Seles spoke about the incident years later, “From the time I was stabbed, I think the security hasn’t changed. What people seem to be forgetting is that this man stabbed me intentionally, and he did not serve any sort of punishment for it.”  Seles has not played tennis in Germany since. “I would not feel comfortable going back. I don’t foresee that happening.” [2]

Monica Seles 1991

For some unknown reason, no one pays much attention to professional doubles, even though it’s the version of tennis that most recreational players enjoy.  On the men’s side in the 2016 Australian Open doubles finals, Bruno Soares (BRA) and Jamie Murray (GBR) beat Daniel Nestor (CAN) and Radek Stepanek (CZH) 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Jamie Murray & Bruno Soares2

The Bryan brothers don’t win majors anymore, but they were the best ever, and they’re still active.  Best men’s Grand Slam doubles tandem (open era)

16    Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan USA
11    Todd Woodbridge & Mark Woodforde AUS
7      John Newcombe &  Tony Roche  AUS
=      Peter Fleming &  John McEnroe USA

Mike & Bob Bryan

In the women doubles final, Martina Hingis (SUI) and Sania Mirza (IND) beat the Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (1), 6-3 to extend their winning streak to 36 matches, on the way to their third major doubles title as a team.

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza

Venus (age 35) & Serena Williams don’t play doubles at majors anymore. [3]


Here are the top women Grand Slam tandems of all-time:

20  Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver  USA
14  Gigi Fernández & Natasha Zvereva  USA/USSR
13  Venus Williams & Serena Williams   USA
8    Virginia Ruano Pascual & Paola Suárez  ESP/ARG

Martina Navratilova & Pam Shriver

The No. 1 priority now in professional tennis (ATP & WTA), is to clean up the match-fixing. Evidence of throwing matches needs to be thoroughly investigated, then made public; with those responsible named & punished appropriately. The same goes for PEDs. Tennis is a great game, and a superb alternative to American football & soccer, for those athletes looking to avoid concussion risks, but its competition must be clean & fair at its highest levels to attract young players. Therefore organized crime, gambling elements and dangerous chemical enhancements need to be kept outside of the sport.

Nikolay Davydenko-ATP

All the best tennis players want the integrity of their sport maintained, as a gentlemen’s/women’s game– the “Sport of Kings.” This means clean, hard-nosed competition, with respectful etiquette always observed on the court– win or lose.

Nadal Federer 2