Federer Gets Serena’s Vote in GOAT Debate

May 20, 2021 Updated: May 21, 2021

While fans and pundits continue to debate who should be considered the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, 23-times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams says Roger Federer gets her vote.

Rafael Nadal picked up a record-extending 13th French Open title in October to join Federer at the top of the list of men’s Grand Slam winners with 20 titles, while world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the youngest of the ‘Big Three’ at 33, is on 18.

The 39-year-old Federer is this week playing only his second tournament since returning to the Tour in March after spending more than a year on the sidelines due to two knee operations.

“I think two words sum it up: Roger Federer,” Williams, who turns 40 in September, told reporters at the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma on Monday.

“He’s just a synopsis of greatness and class and amazing and really changed the game. You see players playing like him, moving like him, doing his techniques. The guy is genius.”

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Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska, Tennis—WTA Premier 5 —Italian Open—Foro Italico, Rome, Italy, on May 12, 2021. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)
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Switzerland’s Roger Federer during his round of 16 match against Spain’s Pablo Andujar, Tennis—ATP 250—Geneva Open—Tennis Club de Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland, on May 18, 2021. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

Williams won the last of her majors at the 2017 Australian Open before becoming a mother and has since been chasing a 24th major title to equal Margaret Court’s record.

On Monday, the American won her first match since losing in the Melbourne semi-finals in February and said she was a Federer “superfan.”

“I just feel like he is really the greatest player,” Williams said.

“You can’t not like the guy, that’s how I feel. His game is so fantastic. If I could only play like him.”

“It was something that I wanted, to have a match against Roger, just to tell my kids and my grandkids when I get older that I played him,” Andujar told reporters.

“I think when you play Rafa, Novak and Roger … these guys became myths, (they are) something above the sport. I would say that the most important is that they grew the sport.”

By Sudipto Ganguly