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Serena Williams: Is she the greatest?

Serena Williams of the United States gestures between

Serena Williams of the United States gestures between points during the women's singles final against Garbine Muguruza of Spain at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Saturday July 11, 2015. Credit: AP / Kirsty Wigglesworth

When her opponent's final shot sailed out, Serena Williams wasn't sure whether the match was over or not. It took a few seconds before the realization sunk in -- not only had she won her sixth Wimbledon title, but her bid for another "Serena Slam" was complete.

Williams overcame a slow start, eight double-faults and a nervy finish to dispatch Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday for her fourth Grand Slam championship in a row and 21st major overall. Is she the No. 1 women's player of all time? The rankings by Newsday's Jeff Williams:

1. Serena Williams

2015 Wimbledon champion Serena Williams owns the greatest weapon in the history of women's tennis: her serve. Combine that with her overall power game and unrelenting determination, and you have the most dominant women's player ever. She's won 20 Grand Slam titles, including the Serena Slam of 2002-2003 when she captured, in order, the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open. Williams also has battled through illness and injuries that looked to derail her career. But at age 33 she's still going strong.

2. Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf was a remarkably consistent and dominating player on all surfaces -- hard court, grass and clay -- and her 22 Grand Slam titles illustrate that. She won seven Wimbledon's on grass, six French Opens on the red clay, five U.S. Opens on hard court and four Australian Opens on hard court. In 1988 she won the true Grand Slam, all four major titles in the year. The German native was known as "Fraulein Forehand" and she spent 377 consecutive weeks ranked as the No. 1 player, a record.

3. Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova brought unparalleled physicality to the game when she roared onto the scene in 1973. The native of Czechoslovakia played a serve- and-volley game, and after taking criticism for being out of shape early in her career, she zealously took up physical conditioning which allowed her to overpower nearly everyone she played. She won 18 Grand Slam titles, including nine at Wimbledon, and was also likely the best women's doubles player of all-time with 31 Slam titles.

4. Chris Evert

Chris Evert was Martina Navratilova's chief rival, and while she couldn't match Navratilova's power, she made up for it with finesse, cunning, speed and uncanny court sense. Evert also won 18 Grand Slam titles and she won them on all surfaces. While she was often looked upon as the all-American girl, that disguised the fact she was a tough-as-nails competitor.

5. Margaret Court

Margaret Court was the dominant player of her era in the late '50s through early '70s, winning 24 Grand Slam titles. In 1970 she won the true Grand Slam. She is the only player to have won all four Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at least twice. The Australian is often credited as being the first women's player to adopt a physical fitness regimen.

6. Monica Seles

A native of the former Yugoslavia, the teenage Seles became the major challenger to Steffi Graf in the early '90s and had won eight Grand Slam titles by the age of 19. Then she was stabbed by a spectator at a tournament in Germany, an incident that severely derailed her career. She came back, but won only one more Grand Slam at the Australian in 1996. She was known for swinging two-handed from both the forehand and backhand side, and uttered a shrill squeal as she hit the ball.

7. Billie Jean King

There is no question that Billie Jean King was a great player, with 12 Grand Slam titles to her credit, including six at Wimbledon from 1966 to 1975. She was a charging player who wasn't afraid to serve and volley. Just as important, she wasn't afraid to stand up for women's rights in the sports world, where she became highly influential in the fight to get women paid as well as men and to have their game respected.

8. Venus Williams

Serena Williams' older sister, Venus, certainly set a championship example. She won seven Grand Slam titles with a big serve and swooping groundstrokes, and if not for the success of her younger sister, she doubtless would have won more. Venus, at 35, has battled through injuries and has to deal with an energy-sapping condition known as Sjogren's syndrome. She won five Wimbledon titles and when healthy might have been the best grass court player of all time.

9. Justine Henin

It's unlikely that any women's tennis player ever got more out of a small body than the Belgian Justine Henin. She was only 5-6, but she played a commanding game that included a powerful one-handed backhand. She won seven Grand Slams titles, but never could quite grasp the Wimbledon trophy. There was never a doubt that Henin would give anyone a tough time.

10. Evonne Goolagong

The Australian may have been the most graceful of all women's players. She seemed to float across the court and get surprising power into her shots. She played during the Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert era, and held her own with seven Grand Slam titles. She won Wimbledon in 1980 after giving birth to her daughter in 1977. She never won the U.S. Open but she reached the final from 1973 through 1976.

With AP

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