Tennis Channel’s encore of 100 Greatest Of All Time on April 7

In case you missed it, and I was one who did, Tennis Channel will have an encore showing of its 100 Greatest Of All Time on Saturday.

This is a great idea, and I am surprised it took the Tennis Channel a while to put something like this together. Who doesn’t enjoy debating who was better? Rod Laver, Roger Federer or Pete Sampras in the men’s game, or Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court, Serena Williams or Steffi Graf in the women’s game.  

Each segment was hosted by an all-time great in a sport other than tennis, which adds to the appeal of the show. These were golf’s Jack Nicklaus (No. 100-71), football’s Jerry Rice (70-41), track and field’s Carl Lewis (40-21), basketball’s Lisa Leslie (20-11) and hockey’s Wayne Gretzky (10-1).

For those of you who want to watch and not know the results, look away. Here’s my thoughts on the list, with the entire list to follow.

Roger Federer is one of the most extraordinary tennis players of all time, but I’ve never heard anything that would make me select him over Rod Laver as the greatest player ever. Laver has done something no other player has done in the past 40+ years, which is win the Grand Slam. And he did it twice! People want to be dismissive of Laver’s Grand Slam, but if you look at the depth of talent early in Federer’s career (think pre-Rafa), you could argue he should have won the Grand Slam and he didn’t. And if you look at that time, how many Hall of Fame players did Federer have to go through? It was less than Laver.

Rafael Nadal is No. 6, behind Pete Sampras at No. 5. Well, you can make an argument that Nadal should be ahead of Sampras since he’s dominated Federer, the No. 1 player on this list. And Nadal has won majors on all surfaces. Of course, we can’t ignore how Pete dominated the tour, finishing as the year-end No. 1 for six consecutive years. And he too dominated his main rival, Andre Agassi, who was No. 12.

Working in the women is a tricky thing. The top woman in the ranking is Steffi Graf at No. 3, followed by Martina Navratilova at No. 4, which seems just about right. Margaret Court is next at No. 8, followed by Chris Evert at No. 9 and Billie Jean King at No. 10. For me, Billie Jean King would be the top woman, but admittedly its for what she’s done socially for this country as an activist. But for just tennis accomplishments, 10 seems pretty good.

Serena Williams is at No. 14, and she might be the toughest one to place. She’s a one-of-a-kind talent who was dominant when she wanted to be. But there is a feeling of potential unrealized. If Williams stayed the course and didn’t have her medical problem, she should still be No. 1 now. Too bad.

Here’s the list.

 

The Top 10
10 – Billie Jean King, F, USA
9 – Chris Evert, F, USA
8 – Margaret Court, F, AUS
7 – Bjorn Borg, M, SWE
6 – Rafael Nadal, M, ESP
5 – Pete Sampras, M, USA
4 – Martina Navratilova, F, USA/CZE
3 – Steffi Graf, F, GER
2 – Rod Laver, M, AUS
1 – Roger Federer, M, SUI
 
Full list: (#11-100)
100 – Michael Chang, M, USA
99 – Ann Haydon Jones, F, GBR
98 – Henry Bunny Austin, M, GBR
97 – Pat Cash, M, AUS
96 – Manuel Orantes, M, ESP
95 – Thomas Muster, M, AUT
94 – Andy Roddick, M, USA
93 – Nicola Pietrangeli, M, ITA
92 – Svetlana Kuznetsova, F, RUS
91 – Shirley Fry Irvin, F, USA
90 – Bill Johnston, M, USA
89 – Dorothea Lambert Chambers, F, GBR
88 – Amelie Mauresmo, F, FRA
87 – Mary Pierce, F, FRA
86 – Tony Wilding, M, NZL
85 – Yannick Noah, M, FRA
84 – Norman Brookes, M, AUS
83 – Jan Kodes, M, CZE
82 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov, M, RUS
81 – Vic Seixas, M, USA
80 – Marat Safin, M, RUS
79 – Gabriela Sabatini, F, ARG
78 – Ashley Cooper, M, AUS
77 – Molla Mallory, F, USA
76 – William Renshaw, M, GBR
75 – Pauline Betz Addie, F, USA
74 – Tony Roche, M, AUS
73 – Jaroslav Drobny, M, CZE
72 – Gottfried Von Cramm, M, GER
71 – Maria Sharapova, F, RUS
70 – Patrick Rafter , M, AUS
69 – Louise Brough , F, USA
68 – Helen Hull Jacobs , F, USA
67 -  Fred Stolle , M, AUS
66 – Bobby Riggs , M, USA
65 – Pancho Segura  , M, ECU
64 – Ellsworth Vines , M, USA
63 – Lleyton Hewitt  , M, AUS
62 – Hana Mandlikova , F, CZE
61 – Neale Fraser , M, AUS
60 – Virginia Wade , F, GBR
59 – Margaret Osborne Dupont, F,  USA
58 – Alice Marble , F,  USA
57 – Jennifer Capriati , F, USA
56 – Stan Smith, M, USA
55 -  Gustavo Kuerten, M, BRA
54 – Manuel Santana, M, ESP 
53 – Tracy Austin, F, USA
52 – Jack Crawford, M, AUS
51 – Doris Hart, F, USA
50 – Tony Trabert, M, USA
49 – Ilie Nastase , M, ROM
48 – Frank Sedgman, M, AUS
47 -  Jean Borotra, M, FRA
46 -  Henri Cochet, M, FRA
45 -  Kim Clijsters, F, BEL 
44 -  Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, F, ESP
43 -  Lindsay Davenport, F, USA
42 -  Jim Courier, M, USA
41 -  Guillermo Vilas, M, ARG
40 – Novak Djokovic, M, SRB
39 – Althea Gibson, F, USA
38 – Maria Bueno, M, BRA
37 – Evonne Goolagong Cawley, F, AUS
36 – Rene Lacoste, M, FRA
35 – Pancho Gonzalez, M, USA
34 – Jack Kramer, M, USA
33 – Mats Wilander, M, SWE
32 – Lew Hoad, M, AUS
31 – John Newcombe, M, AUS
30 – Martina Hingis, F, SUI
29 – Helen Wills Moody Roark, F, USA
28 – Arthur Ashe, M, USA
27 – Maureen Connolly Brinker, F, USA
26 – Justine Henin, F, BEL
25 – Stefan Edberg, M, SWE
24 – Suzanne Lenglen, F, FRA
23 – Fred Perry, M, GBR
22 – Venus Williams, F, USA
21 – Boris Becker, M, GER
20 – Ken Rosewall, M, AUS
19 – Monica Seles, F, USA
18 – Ivan Lendl, M, CZE
17 – Roy Emerson, M, AUS
16 – Bill Tilden, M, USA
15 – Jimmy Connors, M, USA
14 – Serena Williams, F, USA
13 – John McEnroe, M, USA
12 – Andre Agassi, M, USA
11 – Don Budge, M, USA