Recently, the popular World of Statistics account, which has more than 3.2 million followers on social networks, decided to conduct a survey to determine who is the best tennis player of all time. Users were presented with four options: Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Maria Sharapova, Martina Navratilova. Everything would be fine, but suddenly one of the survey participants attacked the other. Navratilova did not like the fact that Sharapova appeared on the list of contenders.
“What kind of joke? Maria? Oh really? Don’t even think about voting! — Martina wrote on Twitter.
Sharapova had a great time at the US Open. Will María really return to the field?
What was Navratilova guided by when she published her message? Most likely, she was thinking about the number of victories of tennis players in Grand Slam tournaments. According to this indicator, Sharapova (5) is inferior to Williams (23), Graf (22) and Navratilova herself (18). In addition, Martina was able to remember that Sharapova’s career was overshadowed by a doping scandal, for which Maria served a 15-month suspension. In any case, her post seems incorrect in terms of respect for a fellow tennis player, even if they played in different eras. Navratilova’s message clearly smacks of arrogance and disdain. She could have expressed her discontent more correctly and calmly, even if she did not agree with Sharapova’s inclusion in the survey.
Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
In fact, it is appropriate to make some complaints about the World of Statistics. The list of applicants is too short. It should definitely include not only Navratilova, Sharapova, Graf and Williams, but at least half a dozen other tennis players. In particular, Chris Evert, 18-time TBS champion, who is not inferior in titles to Martina Navratilova. The legendary Margaret Court won a record 24 Slams. Only 11 of them occurred in the Open era, when professional players competed, but the Australian’s achievement is difficult to ignore.
Billie Jean King (12 Slams, eight of them in the Open Era), Monica Seles (9), Martina Hingis (5) could also be on the list. King had a revolutionary impact on women’s tennis, achieving parity in prize money with the men at the US Open and ultimately every major tournament. Seles and Hingis dominated the court from an early age, becoming a kind of benchmark for the success of young tennis players. For a change, Venus Williams and Justine Henin (seven Slams each) could be included on the list, although they would probably finish last in the poll.
One thing is beyond doubt: Sharapova’s place among the contenders is absolutely deserved. And it’s not about titles. If it was all about winning the Helmets, then it would be worth giving the win to Serena Williams right away. Although in terms of awards, Maria also has something to boast about, namely a career “Slam”: victory at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. In the Open Era, only she, plus Court, Serena, Graf, Navratilova and Evert, achieved this.
“This is not the USSR.” The legendary Navratilova fled to the United States and found true freedom.
Sharapova’s main advantage over the others is her enormous contribution to the popularization of women’s tennis on the planet. María was the highest-paid athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years (from 2005 to 2016), occupying leading positions in various rankings of the most attractive celebrities (in general, all, not just those related to sports and tennis). In fact, Sharapova has become a symbol with which women’s tennis is associated. Yes, she was completely inferior to Serena on the court, but she was more successful off it.
Maria retired from the game in 2020, but continues to popularize tennis. Sharapova’s annual visits to the US Open have become a tradition and attract enormous public attention. Now she Maria regularly participates in various forums for girls, focusing on issues of gender equality in sports. During the recent US Open, she highlighted the importance of men and women receiving equal prize money in all tennis tournaments.
Maria Sharapova is an iconic figure in the history of women’s tennis
Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images
The significance of Mary’s voice should not be underestimated. The total number of her subscribers on the three largest social networks is 28 million people. This is less than Serena (35 million), but by a margin more than any other current or former tennis player. It’s worth considering that Williams is followed primarily by African Americans, while Sharapova appeals to the most diverse audience possible. To briefly summarize: Maria Sharapova is an iconic and epoch-making figure in the history of women’s tennis.
It is logical that in the World of Statistics post on the definition of the best tennis player of all time, almost no one wonders why Sharapova is represented on the list. Especially in a form as tough as Martina Navratilova. In addition, Maria did not take the last place in the voting, which was carried out in the comments. The leaders were Serena Williams (43.4%) and Steffi Graf (27.6%), followed by Sharapova (19.4%) and Navratilova (9.6%) closing the list.
“They are committing fraud.” How Serena and Sharapova Displeased the Legendary Navratilova
Martina was upset by Sharapova’s inclusion in the poll, but ultimately lost to her. He also received criticism from tennis fans who were outraged by his post.
“Sharapova would face you on court even on her worst day, any time. Be glad you played tennis in the age of slow motion. You wouldn’t last a set against modern tennis players”; “You played tennis with a wooden racket and look down on someone from a completely different era? You should be ashamed of comparing yourself to real athletes when you yourself were fighting with housewives who played tennis for fun. Humble yourself and do not impose your obsolete views on us”; “You are older than the iPhone and all popular social networks combined, and yet Sharapova’s inclusion in this vote bothers you so much? You are nothing compared to Maria Sharapova, you need to accept reality. What toxicity in old age… Go to sleep, grandma”; “We’ll figure out who to vote for ourselves, Martina. And you shouldn’t be rude to others”; “What a joke! Martina, what you did was very ugly”; “I’m not a fan of María, but is it necessary to write so harshly about her? She was number one in the world, she won all four Grand Slam tournaments, 36 individual titles “WTA and Olympic silver medals. He was a celebrity during his career. This is just a poll on social media, you shouldn’t react so painfully.”
Of course, among Navratilova’s subscribers there were those who supported her position, although at the same time they did not allow themselves to be rude to Sharapova and some even asked Martina to lower the degree of harshness a little. The result of a poll conducted on “neutral territory” is indicative: Yes, Sharapova did not win. Still, the title gap with Williams and Graf is too big, and that matters. However, Maria turned out to be above Navratilova, who did not want to see her in this survey at all. Was it because he suspected that he might give in to her?
Martina Navratilova and Maria Sharapova in the 2023 US Open final
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It is unlikely that Sharapova and Navratilova will begin to have conflicts over Martina’s post on social networks. They attended the US Open final between Cori Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka, and sat almost next to each other. This happened literally a day after Navratilova’s publication. Even if Maria found out about her, she didn’t give it any importance. She probably takes into account the 66 years of age of the tennis legend and generally understands the character of Navratilova, who has always been famous for her demand and toughness.
Furthermore, Sharapova has a lot to thank Martina for. In fact, Navratilova was the first to notice Maria’s potential during a master class in Moscow. She invited the six-year-old girl to enter the famous Nick Bollettieri Academy and helped with her transfer to Florida. This moment became a turning point in Sharapova’s life and ultimately helped her become a superstar tennis player.