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View Poll Results: Who was the toughest ever?

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  • Billie Jean King

    3 21.43%
  • Chris Evert

    4 28.57%
  • Steffi Graf

    1 7.14%
  • Monica Seles

    4 28.57%
  • Arantxa Sanchez Vicario

    0 0%
  • Other

    2 14.29%
Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1

    Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    Caveats explained, let’s go.

    BJK. You take the court when half the people in the stands see you as a pushy brat for something that you know you were right about (prize money) and the other half sees you as a political threat (women’s rights). And on top, you go and claim “Pressure is a privilege”. Toughness is one thing. Bravery is another level.
    Chris Evert. I saw her devastated once: after she lost the 1984 USO final. Other than that, the toughest and most balanced player on a court.
    Steffi Graf. The focus was intense to the limit.
    Monica Seles. On every point, on every match, the intensity was dialed to 11. A lunatic ruined her career but she was always present.
    Arantxa Sanchez Vicario. You go out there and play Graf or Seles with weapons that were equivalent to taking on the Taliban armed with nothing more than a wet copy of the National Enquirer. This girl never quit.

    Honorary mention.
    Althea Gibson. From too long ago. But this has to be mentioned. She was the first player of color to win a Slam. With the stands packed with people insulting her. It is well documented. Few people, if anybody, can relate to what this woman went through. And conquered.
    Martina Navratilova. Same reasoning as Agassi and Djokovic. In the beginning, she was a mess, so she cannot qualify for the main list. But she learned. She taught a lot of us that being mentally tough can be achieved.
    Vera Zvonareva. WHAT?! Yes. If you don’t care, it is “easy” to swing. But for Zvonareva, every match was a crucifixion. HER’s. And yet, she went out, again and again, and reached #2 in the world. When you are not scared, everything is easy. When you are, and still do it, it is brave.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  2. #2
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    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    I'm giving Monica bonus points for the comeback.

  3. #3

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    Serena is my "other" vote--definitely the most mentally tough player, IMO
    This is not the bouquet you toss

  4. #4

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    From the selections I'm going to go with Monica with honorable mention to Chrissy. Both women dared you to beat them.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  5. #5

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    There were two players I debated to include.
    Henin. She was very tough in many matches. But the retirement against Mauresmo in the 2006 Aussie open was as cowardly as you can get. Gastroenteritis (her claim) is not a reason to retire and not allow the other player to shake your hand and have a real score in her box. And then, I remembered that, as much as I loved Justine, there is no way it can be denied that giving her a mentally-tough award would be the same as giving it to Carlos. Their on court coaching was blatant to the point of defiant to the sport. Therefore, I balked.
    Serena. Yes, she seems tough. But is she? You can look tough when you are beating on a poor player that has 50% your weapons. But then look at the details. The Hantuchova match at the Aussie, when she lost 1&6, was a meltdown, especially when she then claimed she was playing "at 10%" (10% and you lost 7-6 in the second?). Then, the infamous Henin match at the French was another example. Yes, Henin did raise her hand, and she was at fault, but that is precisely what mentally tough means. Other players (Evert, Graf, Seles) would have put it behind and win the match. Actually, I can perfectly well see Evert and Graf (especially Evert) using it as motivation and trash the opponent. Serena couldn't.
    Add to that so many matches at the USO. The meltdowns against Clijsters, Stosur and Osaka. And when she was going for the calendar slam, she completed freaked out in the semis, against Roberta Vinci. When Graf was going for her Slam in 1988, Sabatini took the second set in the final. Steffi's response? 6-1 in the third, just in case there was any doubt.
    So, sorry. I said it was considering an entire career, not matches in which you knew you had it in the bag. As somebody said about Rafa: last year, against Medvedev, it looked like Rafa was toast. And somehow, he pulled it through. Serena has gone completely AWOL in too many matches to include her in the list.
    Last edited by ponchi101; 07-21-2020 at 01:21 PM.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  6. #6

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    I'm sure that we could cherry pick matches for all players where they didn't display mental toughness. There have been a million times where Serena has also taken that anger and frustration out by pounding aces or punishing opponents with her ground game, mustered up an epic come from behind victory (ie; AO2010 QFs vs Vika), or administered a 15 year long, 20-match winning streak against an opponent who pissed her off in a grand slam final. I think she takes this category easily.

    Speaking of, Sharapova should probably also be in this conversation, I would think. Even with the asterisk next to her name for the doping, her mental toughness was fierce.
    This is not the bouquet you toss

  7. #7

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    That is where you and I disagree. And I will change my mind if you can cherry pick and find me one match in which the following players did not display mental toughness:
    Rafa
    Connors
    Borg
    Ferrer
    BJK (although my memory does not go that long)
    Evert
    Graf
    Seles

    This is the toughest category because it is so hard to see the players' minds. Borg later admitted he was always afraid of losing. Evert said her motivation was to picture her opponent smiling at the net if she were to lose. Graf refused, totally, to acknowledge that hitting slice to Seles' forehand was a bad play. So we can only see the outside. That is the reason I mentioned Vera. There, you could see the tremendous pressure she was under. And yet, she endured. I admired her for that.
    Sharapova. I debated that one too. And I did not include her because, as you say, for 15 years she was scared against one player. Regardless of what she says.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  8. #8

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    Jimmy Connors Calls Lendl a F*ggot On Court


    Connors lost this set 6-2 and the last set of this 1992 US Open encounter 6-0
    Last edited by JTContinental; 07-21-2020 at 04:51 PM.
    This is not the bouquet you toss

  9. #9

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    This is a tough category to breakdown. So here is my attempt.

    It's easy to give it to Seles, and for little over two years she demolished tennis. Except that it was only for two years. Because of the stabbing we don't know how her career would have otherwise played out. And after the stabbing she was never the same. But at the end of the day, I can't give it to her on just two years of domination when others dominated for a decade or longer.

    I eliminate Serena even though at here best she could dominate like nobody, but her career is filled with a disproportionate amount of histrionics and bad losses. We have to count her inability to win during here last four slam finals in this discussion along with those US Open meltdowns.

    So you're left with Evert and Graf. I'm ok with either pick. Both at times were dominated by their rivals but neither ever took the court ever believing they were going to lose. Even after devastating losses I do not recall ever seeing either cry on court.

    Years after being dominated by Navs, Evert somehow climbed back to #1.

    People forget the summer Seles came back from the stabbing, Graf's father was arrested on tax evasion and there was a real threat she might get arrested too. So with that on her mind, and having to prove her slam wins while Seles was sidelined should not be discounted, she beat Seles in that US Open final and then the next year went on to win three more slams while the tax evasion scandal and Seles continued to loomed over her.

    With Evert, Graf, and Seles you could tune into a match and based on their focus and intensity, you would never know if they were winning or losing. They always had their game face on.
    Last edited by Miles; 07-21-2020 at 09:27 PM. Reason: Typos galore
    Towel Avatar, do your thing!

  10. #10

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    The sole reason in the end I went with Evert was that Graf retired when she realized she no longer had it mentally. She one day woke up with no desire to train. Which was fair.
    Evert quit when she realized she no longer had it physically. She could no longer beat Navs and Graf. Other than that, none of the women I included, in my opinion, ever blinked on court. As Miles said. A picture taken at 1-1 in the first would be the same picture taken at 6-6 in the third, 5-5 in the tiebreak (other than the sweat, of course).
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  11. #11
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    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. WTA.

    I voted Other for Serena. Watched her intimidate her way out of too many walkabouts and injuries and win matches. Also, Serena overcame a bunch of non-sports medical issues and stayed on top.

    She's not my favorite but there's a reason she's the winningest.


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