Roger Federer is the greatest sportsperson of all time

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    Over the past few years there was always a controversial debate about who really should be considered as the greatest tennis player to grace the game.

    Many players were mentioned such as Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg, each who were considered the best of their time.

    Rafael Nadal was catching up to Roger in terms of grand slam titles and still to this day he holds a better head-to-head record which put the argument on hold – up until now.

    Now that we can all comfortably admit that the Swiss maestro is the best tennis player the world has ever seen, it is time to move to the next argument in determining whether he is the greatest sportsman of all time.

    For me, its a yes.

    Let’s start with the remarkable work Federer does off the court. In 2003, he was the founder of the Roger Federer Foundation which supports educational projects in Africa and his home country of Switzerland. Since then it has been able to raise $15 million.

    He has also attended multiple tennis charity matches with former and current players to raise money for natural disasters and for people in Africa.


    (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

    Federer is loved and adored by almost everybody not only in the tennis community, but everywhere around the world. He is seen as just a normal guy who goes about his everyday business just like any other normal person. His compassion and kindness is what makes every kid look up to him as a hero. It is why he is a role model to many.

    In 2016, he was named the most marketable sportsperson, earning over $60 million. This means that his name is the most recognisable in sport all over the world. The popularity of Roger is unreal. Everyone knows who he is.

    On the court, his style of play is what makes his stand out among the greats to have played the game. He makes it look so easy that you get to a stage where you just scratch your head wondering how he does it.

    His 19 grand slam titles is only the icing on the cake of an extraordinary career. He has been able to win two grand slams this calendar year at the age of 35, which is impressive in itself. The only name I can think of who is one of the best in the world for their respective sport at an old age is goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (39).

    To call him the greatest athlete of all time is a bit of a stretch. Don’t get me wrong, he deserves to be in the conversation, but I feel as though there are athletes both past and present that deserve that title.

    The three that come to mind are Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and LeBron James. The two footballers from Argentina are ahead because they are known as the greatest in their respective generations, causing an interesting debate.

    LeBron’s achievements on the basketball court are too impressive to turn down and ignore.

    The most marketable athlete currently, the greatest of all time for his respective sport and arguably the most respected athlete in the world. Federer has always given his fans something to smile about whether it be on or off the court.

    Is he the greatest sportsman of all time? Yes. Is he the greatest athlete of all time? No. Depending on how much Federer is able to achieve from now until the end of his career, that debate will have to wait for another day.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • July 20th 2017 @ 3:10am
      jeff dustby said | July 20th 2017 @ 3:10am | ! Report

      most marketable doesnt equal best sportsman

      • July 20th 2017 @ 5:05am
        express34texas said | July 20th 2017 @ 5:05am | ! Report

        Jeff, read the whole article. That was just one of the author’s arguments.

        The examples given of better athletes are quite puzzling. Maradona/Messi are tiny people, and Messi still has never won the World Cup, and often played poorly on the biggest stage. James has also played poorly many times on the biggest stage, and often outplayed by much inferior players. As far as raw athleticism, yes, James deserves to be in the conversation, but doesn’t sound like that’s what’s being talking about here, especially with Maradona/Messi getting mentioned.

        • July 20th 2017 @ 7:57am
          Jeff dustby said | July 20th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

          Incorrect about James . You are also trying to compare individual versus team performance
          Roger has failed many times on the big stage

          • July 20th 2017 @ 12:51pm
            express34texas said | July 20th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

            Actually correct about James. He’s only 3-5 in the Finals, and has been outplayed by several players who have no business outplaying him. He also has mentally checked out several times before and often coasts in games not giving full effort even in the playoffs, which he’s admitted to, btw.

            Individual sports much different than team sports. But, the biggest stage in tennis is Wimbledon. Fed now owns the most Wimby titles all-time, while going 8-3 in Finals. In all 3 losses, he played extremely well. In 2 of the losses, he was an ‘old man’ in tennis years, too. That’s just a bit different than James’ ‘big stage’ results. If we count overall GS Finals, he stands alone with 19 going 19-10 in Finals. If we include the year-end final, which is essentially the playoffs like in basketball, he’s 25-14 in Finals.

            I think it’s safe to say Fed has maximized his ability to the fullest. James obviously hasn’t come close to doing this.

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          July 20th 2017 @ 8:18am
          andresilva10 said | July 20th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          Wouldn’t call Maradona and Messi “tiny people”

          Maradona won the World Cup carrying Argentina on his own shoulders

          Yes, Messi hasn’t won the World Cup, but he has broken record after record and sometimes it’s not about trophies…it’s about the actual quality of the player. It’s a team sport

    • July 20th 2017 @ 5:49am
      Galatzo said | July 20th 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

      Roger’s a remarkable guy and probably the best tennis player of all time although that won’t be determined till quantum computers are up and running and the greats of the past and the greats of the present can play one another.
      But Roger excels in one sport only, while two other people come to mind who mastered more than one discipline.
      Jim Thorpe won gold in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played pro baseball and basketball and remains a legend of American football. In the ’32 Olympics Babe Didrikson won gold in the 80-meter hurdles and the javelin. Later, in 1950, she won the grand slam of women’s golf including the US Open.

      For my money, they’re the two greatest athletes ever.

      • July 20th 2017 @ 6:33am
        express34texas said | July 20th 2017 @ 6:33am | ! Report

        The article was about ‘sportsperson’ not athlete. And just because someone excels at multiple sports doesn’t mean he is necessarily a better athlete. As far as just athleticism goes, Wilt is #1. He could do everything and was 7-1. Height does have a lot to do with athleticism. Basketball continues to have the best athletes on average of any sport, and Wilt is the best athlete to ever play.

        Galatzo, your examples are good, but neither one of them would come close to approaching what they did if they competed today. Wilt would still be the best basketball player in the world if he played today.

        • July 20th 2017 @ 7:57am
          Jeff dustby said | July 20th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

          Are you his defendant ?

          • July 20th 2017 @ 8:04pm
            Mitcher said | July 20th 2017 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

            Defender, you mean?

    • July 20th 2017 @ 10:50am
      Tony N said | July 20th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      Federer has won the most prestigious sports award in the world — the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year a record four times (out of six nominations). Lebron James was nominated only two times (never won) and Messi was nominated five times (never won). Maradona played in an era before these awards began in 2000. Based on the Laureus awards, the greatest sportsperson or athlete in the 21st century narrows down to Federer or Usain Bolt.

      The sports legends of the Laureus World Sports Academy are the the distinguished panel of global sports experts who vote each year on the most outstanding sportsman, nominated by top sports journalists around the world. They understand sports better than anyone else. See who they are in the link below:

      Kevin Ferrie has a compelling argument on why “Roger Federer has elevated himself above his peers to be the outstanding sportsman of the era”

    • July 20th 2017 @ 11:46am
      CJ said | July 20th 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      I think Federer is the most personally charming and even possessed of the more noble characters and generosity of spirits of tennis players of all time and maybe one of the best three with Laver and Gonzales. Maybe Borg as well. But these are not relevant criterion to establish “Now that we can all comfortably admit that the Swiss maestro is the best tennis player the world has ever seen”

      As for greatest sportsperson, if we are looking at this kind of rubbery criteria, then I would be looking at Jesse Owens who overcame incredible odds of racism in a historically significant way. If the war did not intervene he might have had a record like Bolts.

    • July 20th 2017 @ 2:53pm
      Tony N said | July 20th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

      Jack Kramer was best qualified to assess the best tennis player the world has ever seen. Rod Laver ranks Kramer the second-best player from the pre-1968 era (From “Rod Laver’s Top 10 from Past and Present players” ). Bud Collins called Jack Kramer “the most important man in the history of tennis”: Kramer was a great player (who practiced or played with the greats from the 1930s to 1960s (Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Pancho Gonzales, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, etc.); he promoted and ran the professional tour before the Open Era; he fought for tennis to be open to professionals; and he co-founded the ATP in 1972.

      In 2007, Jack Kramer said that Roger Federer was the best player he had ever seen: “as someone who is better placed than most to analyse players through the ages, he is ready to anoint Roger Federer as the best he has seen. ‘I thought Ellsworth Vines and Don Budge were pretty good,’ he says. ‘And Gonzalez and Hoad could play a bit, too, but I have never seen anyone play the game better than Federer. He serves well and has a great half-volley. I’ve never known anyone who can do as many things on a court as he can.’ (From “Jack The Lad” )

      In 2008, Todd Woodbridge wrote: “Is Roger Federer the best of all time? Yet recently I had reason to say Federer is the best singles player to have played the game. Just before Christmas, I had the opportunity to interview American Jack Kramer about his life in tennis… Nearing the end of our chat, I broached the subject of Federer and asked if he compared with the greats of Kramer’s era. Federer is tied with Roy Emerson on 12 grand slam titles and looks set to pass him on Sunday week. You would think Pete Sampras’s record of 14 titles looks likely to tumble soon, too. Having played against and watched every champion since the 1930s, I thought there was no one better credentialled than Kramer to answer the question. Kramer said Don Budge, Gonzales or Hoad might have been the equal of Federer if they had been able to use Federer’s racquet. Yet he had never seen any player do more with a ball than Federer. Federer, Kramer said, was the only player he had seen with the complete package; he is a fantastic offensive player, a super server and can play defence. We all have our dream match-ups we would have loved to see play against each other in their prime. Mine would be Rod Laver and Federer playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Kramer’s is Gonzales taking on Federer using the same racquets. Kramer finished the interview by saying Federer was simply the best player he had seen play the game. With credentials as good as his, who are we to argue?” (From “Worm turns Federer’s way in the debate)

      In 2007 and 2008 (and until 2013), Federer had been using a smaller-head and technological backward racquet compared to the rest of the men’s ATP tour. Had Federer in 2007 and 2008 been using his current larger head and more advanced racquet, the standard of his play would have been even higher!

      • July 25th 2017 @ 10:17am
        BrainsTrust said | July 25th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Jack Kramer was heavy on players having good looks and being markeable. The pro tour consisted mainly of touring many cities and playing a set of exhibition matches, so it was important the players in the match up could draw crowds.. So when he says the complete package he also means more than just tennis.
        Height and good looks part of the main package, while Laver played attractive tennis he was also very short and didn;t have the moviestar looks of Lew Hoad, and Rosewall the tiny weak looking man with his defensive style, was the hardest sell of all.

        • July 25th 2017 @ 5:02pm
          Johnno said | July 25th 2017 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

          Oh so your saying Anna Kournikova is more important to tennis putting pumps on seats and Tennis marketing than Lindsey Davenport.. And the casual fans the majority don’t appreciate Davenport unlike kournikova, only the tennis tragics and purists, but tennis purists don’t make money for tennis..

    • July 20th 2017 @ 5:45pm
      Johnno said | July 20th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

      3-meausrments- success/longevity/mass appeal, I’d add a 4th the generation or era you played in e.g. participation rates, and yes he’s well up there.
      Bradman’s average is so remarkable in the 99 batting average back then would be like about 115 today. Imagine someone like Sachin Tendulkar having a test batting average of 115, it puts the Don’s achievements into context e.g. 99 in an era of uncovered wickets/no helmets/heavy bats/long boundaries and no ropes etc. And Don Bradman faced world class fast bowling and spin bowling to..
      But then again Don played cricket when basically only 4 countries were good at it (OZ/Eng/South Africa/NZ)…
      I’d still say Serena Willaims is greater than Fed. The thorn in Fed’s greatness is his lack of doubles achievements. Rafa has done well in doubles, and Serena and Martina Navratalova have great doubles records…
      Soccer has to rate highly in that so many people play. That’s why to me Zidane has huge credit points. He was dominant in the modern era when soccer was huge in the 90’s-2000’s.. Wayne Gretsky’s stats are awesome too.

      For mine the best would be that I can think off.
      1) Don Bradman 2) Michael Phelps 3) Jackie Joyner Kersie 4) Usain Bolt 5) Serena Williams 6)Martina Navratalova 7)Steffi Graff 8)Rod Laver 9) Fed 10) Wayne Gretzky 11)Michael Jordan 12)Kelly Slater 13)Sergi Bubka 14)Bo Jackson 15)Zidane 16)Ken Rosewell 17)Rafa 18)Floyd Mayweather 19) Mark Spitz 20) Carl Lewis

      ps: I know squash tragics will bemoan this list e.g. why I left out Jahangir Khan/Heather Mckay but put Bubka/Kelly Slater in the list etc. Surfing in the 90’s onwards had more appeal than what squash ever had.. And Pole Vault is not mainstream but a famous Olympic sport and Bubka went around forever(longevity), 80’s/90’s/2000/s…

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        July 20th 2017 @ 5:56pm
        andresilva10 said | July 20th 2017 @ 5:56pm | ! Report

        I agree with your criteria, but when we’re talking about tennis, the women in my opinion cannot be ranked above the men’s players. Who knows what would happen if Serena Williams had to play 5 sets every game on tour? How would her body cope? Would she of won as many grand slam titles as she has? I respect her hard work which has given her so much success, but the men’s side are put through grueling matches with the ball being hit with pace and the rallies are always long and more entertaining.

      • July 20th 2017 @ 6:39pm
        In brief said | July 20th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

        You lost me on Serena, I respect what she’s done but comparatively the level of women’s tennis is poor. I think what sets Federer apart is his ability to play his best on the biggest stage in the biggest moments. With everything is on the line he rises to play his best, most fearless tennis.

        • July 20th 2017 @ 10:15pm
          Johnno said | July 20th 2017 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

          Disagree with your serena theory. You say 5-sets to 3, your making up rules as you go. If the rules of men’s tennis were changed to 3, whose to say it wouldn’t be a power game and guy like Phillipouous/Greg Rusedski/Becker/Richard Krajeck/marit safin/sampras/nadal/tsonga wouldn’t dominate.
          The preparation would change and the gam would be even more a power sport then, if players were training for 3 set tennis all year round in men’s.
          You could say 3-set tennis helped the serena’s and navratlaova’s and seles types, and nullified chris evert(she was very dominant already) or Hennin being more dominant.
          Plus serena was often playing in 3 ties in a grand slam, singles/doubles/mixed, three comps in the one tournament and still would often win the singles, Maybe one slam she won all 3 in the tournament, She’s certainly one a doubles and a singles title in the same tournament.,, So the Endurance argument backing Fed vs Serena is flawed. Lleyton Hewitt used to play singles and doubles in slams a lot as did Johnass Bjorkman. At one wimbledon in the 2000’s(modern era) in 2006, Bjorkman made the men’s semi finals in singles and the wimbledon quarter finals all this at age 34. He had to play 11 matches over like 12 days. All this in the era of men playing 5-sets in both singles and doubles… And as said this is in the modern era, not the 1950’s, 60’s 70’s or 80’s or even 90′. This is post 2000, Jonnes Bjorkman was doing this in doubles/singles efforts..
          And Serena and venus have been doing the same thing. And women’s era weaker, well Serena had Hennin for ages, Clisters, and Venus and Sharapova, and Davenport or Azerenka, I don’t see that as weak.. Plus she’s still been winning slams after aged 30 when you lose some zip naturally…

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