Is Roger Federer the GOAT despite some moments of mental lability and despite he is at disadvantage in the head-to-head with his two biggest rivals? Can Novak Djokovic be considered the GOAT because he is ahead in the head-to-head with his two rivals and, numbers in hand, he would seem destined to overcome them both? And Rafael Nadal, the man who won 12 French Open titles, a record never happened to anyone in men's singles or women's singles? The Wimbledon final has put the question back on who is the greatest tennis player ever.
This is a question that everyone has asked, era-by-era, and which, in my opinion, will never find a true answer. Federer is the most loved tennis player by the crowd, the most successful in the Slam in men's singles (for now), and the most beautiful to see from a stylistic point of view (I think he has the most beautiful player to so play on a tennis court).
But despite this the bulk of his triumphs came when Djokovic was not yet the tennis player he is today. Federer has shown over the years of being human, and that mental lability is probably his biggest limitation. Strange to say this of the one who is considered the greatest ever, but if he had had even the same mental strength of a player like David Ferrer, he would probably be chasing the 30th Slam, not the 21st.
Serena Williams is in my opinion the one who comes closest to the title of GOAT, in women's tennis. But even here, what can we say about Suzanne Lenglen or Helen Wills Moody, if they had the teams of today, the training of today and the diet and the technology at their disposal? The same goes for men's tennis.
Imagine Fred Perry, René Lacoste and the other Musketeers or Rod Laver with all aspects of today's tennis players; a team of more people, physiotherapists, mental coaches, dieticians, athletic trainers, and all the rest? And obviously the opposite.
How would Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic play in the 1920s or 1950s? Without considering the playing surface. Let's take grass-courts as an example. This year at Wimbledon the grass of the courts was very slow, completely different from that of twenty years or thirty years ago. I don't think I say a heresy if I say that a tennis player like Boris Becker or Stefan Edberg could have beaten Federer, Djokovic or Nadal without too much trouble, on a grassy surface like the 80s and 90s.
So can we say that the Big Three would have had the same Slam titles today if they had lived in other eras? And the tennis players of the past? Talking about GOAT, both in men's tennis and women's tennis, is a very complex topic in my opinion, which includes many factors. We should simply call them GsOAT, the Greatests Of All Time.