Serena Williams is one of the most well-known household names there is. An athlete whose list of accolades seemingly never end. Nobody can argue with her greatness, but what if I ask the question, “Is she the greatest American athlete ever?” Before that question can be answered, let’s take a quick look at her career and some of the other names on the list of greats.
Ask anyone who they consider to be the greatest ever, and you will most likely hear the same few names; Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods, and Michael Phelps. All can very easily make a case for themselves on why they should sit atop this list. The accomplishments in their respective sports are unmatched, but that is not the only thing to take into consideration.
Some of the records that Serena currently holds in tennis are:
- The most Grand Slam titles (23)
- The most Grand Slam match wins (343)
- 3rd highest Grand Slam match winning percentage (87.72)
So how does someone go from being the best in only their sport to being the best American athlete of any sport? Achievements in their field, worldwide success, and their involvement in social issues are a few common ways to achieve that. One other way that cannot be measured by any form of a statistic is the fear that an opponent can instill in their competitors. I believe that in their primes, Tiger Woods and Serena Williams were the absolute best examples of this. If you were competing against either of these athletes, you already felt defeated before the competition even began.
Serena has won four Olympic gold medals throughout her career. The first coming in 2000 when she was only 19 years old. She followed that up with another gold in 2008 and two golds in 2012. Currently, she is tied with her sister Venus with the most Olympic gold medals in American tennis history. Nobody will ever have the Olympic career that Michael Phelps had, but she truly is the Michael Phelps of tennis.
The last area I will discuss is the impact that she’s had on civil and human rights. Muhammad Ali will always be remembered for the stance he took regarding these issues. Serena has attempted to do the same thing on current issues that she finds important. She has openly talked about racist comments she has received, and the role that she feels sexism plays in women’s tennis today.
At a young age, she showed numerous children that they could achieve their dreams. It didn’t matter where they were born. It didn’t matter their gender or the color of their skin. Many children now realized their own goals could be achieved, simply by seeing Serena persevere through all the struggles that life presented. When you put all of this together, I believe that Serena Williams is indeed the greatest American athlete of all time. Not just the greatest women’s athlete and not just the greatest African American athlete. Simply…the greatest of them all.