Tennis Channel: Fed is the GOAT

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Tennis Channel counted down the sport’s 100 best players over the course of a five-part special this week.

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, the network’s100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranked both men and women together on the list.

While I didn’t get to see the show (thanks, Cablevision), I was happy to learn that my two favorite players by gender, Roger Federer and Steffi Graf, were deemed to be the ultimate first and third seeds, respectively. All-time men’s Slam leader “The Fed Express” and “Fraulein Forehand,” the wife of No. 12 seed and Tennis Channel investor Andre Agassi and whose 22 singles Slams titles are the most in the Open era, sandwiched Rod Laver. “The Rocket” is the man many of the players look up to as the GOAT.

It could be argued that Tennis Channel’s on-air analyst Martina Navratilova, whose Grand Slam resume included 59 titles across singles (18), doubles (31) and mixed doubles (10) competitions, could have finished higher than fourth. Around the office on March 23, the discussions centered on Pete Sampras, another network investor and server extraordinaire, as being the GOAT. “The Pistol” finished fifth.

Rafa Nadal, who holds an 18-10 head-to-head edge over his rival Federer and 10 Slams and counting; Bjorn Borg, the master of the French-Wimbledon double, who retired way too young; Margaret Court, she of the 24 women’s Slams titles, including 11 from Down Under and a record 62 majors overall across the three disciplines; Chris Evert, “America’s Sweetheart,” aka as “Ice Maiden” and The Queen of Clay” with the killer backhand and 18 singles Slams; and Billie Jean King, the indomitable pioneer with 20 Wimbledon crowns to her credit; rounded out the top 10.

Elsewhere, Johnny Mac, the man who truly ignited my love of the game with his high-strung genius and asbestos hands at the net, was 13th. That positioning for Douglaston’s duke of the serve and volley and lord of the tennis airwaves must have further endeared him to best bud and Tennis Channel analyst, Jimmy Connors, who ranked 15th in the poll. Serena stands in between, her 14th-place showing, no doubt a function of her various injuries and spells of on-court inactivity and indifference. With her talent, Serena could have achieved so much more. Still, she’s eight rungs ahead of Big Sis, Venus.

And when the network updates this list in, say, five years, let’s see how far a certain Djoker has risen from his current 40th-place ranking.

In the meantime, raise a glass to all the seeds and let the debates begin in earnest.

Check out the full list below. For more details, click to Tennis Channel’s website.

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

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

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