Johannesburg - What more can you do after amassing several titles during the terms of three United States presidents, winning the world number one title in tennis several times and there are still critics who refuse to consider you as the best?
Serena Williams recently won her seventh Australian Open title, but to some people it is not enough to make her the greatest tennis player in history.
The readers of Eurosport sports network recently voted her the second best tennis player of all time after Roger Federer.
Williams has won a record 23 grand slam singles titles in the open era and is second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court’s 24, having surpassed Steffi Graf’s record of 22.
The US superstar is the only tennis player in history to win singles titles at least six times in three of the four grand slam tournaments and the only player to win two of the grand slams seven times each (seven Wimbledon and seven Australian Open titles).
She is also the only tennis player to win 10 grand slam singles titles in two separate decades.
All in all she has consistently beaten most of her rivals since she became a household name.
On the other hand, her male counterpart Federer trails his main rival Rafael Nadal, who has won 23 out of their 35 meetings since they squared up in 2004.
Federer’s victory at the Australian Open on Sunday was his 12th against Nadal.
Williams’ all-time record against her so-called rival Maria Sharapova is a lopsided 18-2. In fact, Sharapova has not beaten Williams since 2004.
They have faced off in seven grand slams and Williams has won six times, with Sharapova only coming tops in their first Wimbledon meeting in 2004.
Williams has won 17 straight matches against Sharapova, who is considered one of her biggest rivals.
Heated and competitive
Williams first reached number 1 in the world on July 8 2002.
Since then, at various points, nine different women have reached the summit but she has managed to reclaim the title.
Her biggest rival in her early days was Justine Henin with whom she clashed 14 times, with Williams winning eight of those encounters.
Their rivalry was one of the most heated and competitive between two female players on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour as they produced scintillating tennis.
Williams has consistently proven that she is the greatest, but the cameras seem to focus on other tennis players who have not managed to achieve as much success as she has.
For example, some analysts have called Federer the greatest tennis player of all time.
In 2016 he was ranked by ESPN sports channel as the greatest male or female tennis player of all time.
One of the big reasons Federer stayed dominant between 2004 and 2008 was because he was up against players who were not as good as he was.
When he began winning grand slams, he did so after the previous golden era dominated by the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Gustavo Kuerten had come to an end.
Until the arrival of Rafael Nadal in 2005, Federer was far ahead of the opposition in terms of victories.
His two main rivals were underachiever Lleyton Hewitt and the erratic Andy Roddick. The two were good tennis players but no match for Federer who easily beat them.
To do with gender
In any individual sport, if one player consistently has the measure of another, it diminishes the loser’s standing as an all-time great.
In boxing for example, Muhammad Ali had difficult fights with Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, but ended up beating them both.
Had that not been the case, he would not have been called the The Greatest, a moniker he conferred upon himself.
To be the greatest you need to lead your rivals in different aspects. Williams has four Olympic gold medals while Federer has one gold medal and a silver.
For Federer to be considered the greatest tennis player he has to win more grand slams than Williams.
This seems like an almost impossible task considering that at 35 (the same age as Serena), time is not on his side.
Perhaps as she has once said it has to do with her gender.
Serena told ESPN in December 2016 that: “If I were a man, I would have 100% been considered the greatest ever a long time ago.”
Take it whichever way you like, but she is indeed The Greatest.