Who’s the greatest tennis player of all time? That’s a simple 8 word question with a not so simple answer.
Roger Federer? Pete Sampras? Steffi Graf? Martina Navratilova?
Bring this up to any group of tennis fans and you’ve got yourself one heck of a debate. A debate that can go on for hours and hours and end with no clear-cut winner. But there is one player that just might be greater than that group of Hall of Famers.
Her name is Esther Vergeer and she is the best tennis player you’ve never heard of. She’s right handed, 29 years old and has 37 Grand Slam titles. No need to rub your eyes or adjust your monitor, you read it correctly, 37 Grand Slam titles. She is a Dutch wheelchair tennis player and she hasn’t lost since January of 2003.
Here are some of her other staggering stats:
– Ranked #1 since 1999
– 418 match winning streak (take that Djokovic!)
– 5 Paralympics gold medals
– 21 Year End Championships
– Between August 2004 and October 2006 she won 250 consecutive sets
– Her overall record is 634 wins and 25 losses in singles, and 415 wins and 32 losses in doubles.
So who is this lady? What’s her history? This is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Vergeer developed paraplegia when she was 8 years old due to an otherwise successful, very risky surgery concerning hemorrhaging blood vessels around her spinal cord. During rehabilitation she learned to play volleyball, basketball, and tennis in a wheelchair. After playing basketball for several years at club level, she was invited to join the national wheelchair basketball team. She played with the Dutch team that won the European championship in 1997. Vergeer had started playing tennis in parallel with basketball, playing her first international tournament in 1996, and switched to full-time tennis in 1998. Coached by Marc Kalkman, her first big win was at the US Open championships in 1998, moving her from 15th to 2nd in the world ranking. She beat top seed Daniela Di Toro to win the singles title and partnered with Sonja Peters to capture the doubles.
She’s a safer bet to win any tournament in the next few years than Tiger Woods ever was to win at The Masters or Michael Jordan was to hit a game winning shot. She’s better at winning than Charlie Sheen ever was.
When it’s all said and done, she might not just be the greatest tennis player of all time, but perhaps the greatest athlete of all time.