Who's the greatest?
The tennis channel aired a list of the "100 Greatest Tennis Players all-time". Graf ranked 1st among women, Serena 6th.
Event Slams (Graf) Record (Graf) Slams (Williams) Record (Williams) Australian 4 47-6 6 68-9 French 6 87-10 3 54-11 Wimbledon 7 75-8 6 79-10 US Open 5 73-10 6 81-9 WTA Finals 5 31-7 5 29-6 Overall 27 313-41 26 311-45
*WTA Finals = 5th Grand Slam
Steffi Graf Career Grand Slam Strike Rate = 40%
Serena Williams Career Grand Slam Strike Rate = 38%
Remarkable close, with Graf ever so slightly edging Serena out in Strike Rate and Grand Slam Win pct., (Graf = 88%, Williams = 87%). What's more mind-boggling is that Serena, at age 34 Sept. 26th, is likely playing the best tennis of her career.
Quality of Competition
Some analyst seem to think that Graf faced the much tougher competition and that this diminishes Serena's Career Grand Slam Totals by comparison.
The toughest opponent in Serena's career, has been no doubt her sister, Venus Williams. Venus has 8 Grand Slam Titles (*tied 12th all-time) and 220 wins in Grand Slam Tournaments.
Browsing through Graf's competition, besides Seles, where are the "so called" dominant opponents? Navratilova and Evert were in their 30s and past their primes during Graf's peak.
It was Seles that was Graf's primary challenger, just as Venus was to Serena earlier in her career. Unfortunately, Seles was stabbed in 1993 and never fully regained her dominance. Seles was untouchable from 1990 - 1992. But it's my opinion that Venus Williams, given the injury Seles suffered in '93, had the better career in comparison to Seles. Venus was an elite player from 2000 - 2008. Venus won all 7 of her Grand Slam titles and also finished with 6 Runner-up's in that period (each of them losses to Serena).
When I look at the field of competition that both Graf, Serena faced, I find it hard to argue that Graf faced the tougher opponents. I'd give Serena the edge here. I'd argue that if Serena follows this year, with another year of high-level tennis, that she's definitely the better tennis player of the two, and likely the greatest women's tennis player of all-time.