The G.O.A.T. Series Part Two: Women’s Edition

Following on from the men’s edition, we now turn our focus in on the women’s sport and their greats. Names such as Venus and Serena Williams, Flo-Jo and Irene van Dyk spring to mind, due to their sheer dominance of their codes, but they have plenty of competition for their respective thrones:

Tennis - Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams, Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King

Armed with a booming forehand and Olympian athleticism, Graf was more than ready for the numerous duels that she would have with Navratilova. It was one of these, in the 1987 French Open final, which catapulted her to prominence, using it as a platform from which to complete the “Golden Slam” the following year (winning all four Grand Slams in a year (French Open, Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open) as well as an Olympic Gold). Steffi Graf dominated women’s tennis from 1993 and went on to win a record 22 Grand Slams. She was also World No. 1 for a total of 377 weeks, the longest period for which any male or female player has held the No.1 ranking.

The legendary Billie Jean King, during a career spanning two decades, won a total of 39 Grand Slam titles that included 12 Singles, 16 Doubles and 11 Mixed Doubles.

A formidable force until 50, Navratilova amassed 167 singles titles and 177 doubles titles, an unassailable record in both categories. Moreover, she is one of just three women who have achieved the “box set”, winning all four Grand Slams in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Furthermore, she was World No.1 in singles for a total of 332 weeks and World No.1 in Doubles for a record 237 weeks making her the only player in tennis history to have held the top spot in both singles and doubles for over 200 weeks.

She shares the box set record with none other than Margaret Court. Her name is plastered throughout the record books, some of her accomplishments needing a second read to make sure they’re not a typographical error. From 1960 until 1975, Court won a record 24 major singles titles, best in history, regardless of gender. Court tacked on 21 major titles in mixed doubles and another 19 in doubles, pushing her total to a mind-boggling 64 major championships.

Invincible and indomitable for over a decade and counting, Serena Williams cannot and will not be forgotten. Serena, along with her sister Venus, changed the texture of women’s tennis, and now holds the record of 23 Grand Slams. She has injected pace and power into a game that was for a long time centred around touch and finesse. With a career winning record in singles of 86 percent and still going strong, Serena is the G.O.A.T. of women’s tennis.


Netball - Irene van Dyk, Sharelle McMahon, Laura Langman, Natalie Medhurst, Mo’onia Gerrard, Maria Tutaia, Temepara George.

Look, plenty of great competitors here, but don’t we just all love Irene? Look at that face! Having played for the Silver Ferns since 2000, Irene has amassed a World Championship Gold and two Commonwealth Games golds, while shooting flawlessly throughout and lighting up the lives of all around her. Irene van Dyk is the G.O.A.T.  of netball.


Athletics - Florence Griffith-Joyner

“Flo-Jo” as she was famously known, sprinted into the history books when she ran the fastest women’s 100m sprint of all-time, going from line-to-line in 10.49 seconds in Indianapolis in 1998. Moreover, she holds the 200m world-record with 21.34 in Seoul 2009, a meet in which she won three Gold medals and one Silver medal. Although accused of drug use numerous times, Griffith Joyner retired from competitive track and field after her Olympic triumph in 1988. She was repeatedly drug tested during the competition, and she passed all of them. Griffith Joyner made public her decision to retire from Olympic competition one week after it was announced that random out-of-competition drug testing would be instituted during the 1989 season.

After her death in 1998, Prince Alexandre de Merode, the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission, claimed that Joyner was singled out for extra, rigorous drug testing during the 1988 Olympic games because of rumours of steroid use. De Merode told The New York Times that Manfred Donike, who was at that time considered to be the foremost expert on drugs and sports, failed to discover any banned substances during that testing. De Merode later said:

"We performed all possible and imaginable analyses on her. We never found anything. There should not be the slightest suspicion."

With her records still intact and incredible, Flo-Jo is the G.O.A.T. of women’s athletics.


Football - Marta, Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach

Chosen as one of FIFA’s best 125 living players, Hamm was one of just two women to be included in this prestigious list by the great Pele. Although born with clubfoot, she made her debut for the USA Women’s National Team at the ridiculous age of 15, retiring in 2004 after over a decade of excellence. She won US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year five times in a row, along with three ESPY awards.

Marta is often considered the GOAT here, coveting the nickname “Pele with skirts” from the great man himself; and well-warranted it is. Named FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive times between 2006 and 2010, she also holds the record for most World Cup goals (15). Marta is the G.O.A.T. of women’s football.

This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2017.
Posted 11:37am Sunday 28th May 2017 by Charlie Hantler.