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by Robb Reel

Yes, this is a post about tennis.

Try not to let that run you off.

It's more about all-time greatness.

What Rafael Nadal has done in Paris is truly amazing.  The Spaniard winning eight French Open titles -- more for a single Grand Slam than any player in the modern era of the sport -- is indeed for the ages.  The 27-year-old has floated above the clay of Le Stade Roland Garros like its namesake aviator.  At that age, he may not be quite done either.  He could legitimately be declared the greatest player in tennis history.

[REUTERS/Thierry Roge]


His accomplishment wasn't even the top story of this one event.

Enter Serena Williams.  She won only her second French Open title and it would be easy to say that pales next to Nadal.  The 31-year-old is likely near her last go-round, but this win was more than a final feather in her career cap.  She won her first 11 years ago, impressive in noting a career so long and successful.  Watch highlights of a 17-year-old Venus winning at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing; her game is dramatically different now.  She is more focused, more patient, yet still just as dominant.

[Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville] 

That's certainly not enough to make Williams the greatest in tennis, especially when held against Nadal.

However, when looking at what this win does to her resume, it becomes clear.  The younger Williams has won at least two titles at every Grand Slam -- Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian Open and now the French Open.  That covers all three surfaces: grass, hard court and clay.  Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis never won on that red French clay.  Monica Seles and Ivan Lendl couldn't cut it on the grass.  Not only did Bjorn Borg never win a hardcourt Grand Slam, but he never even made the final match Down Under.  One title could be considered a fluke [just ask Roger Federer], but two -- certainly two more than a decade apart -- would indicate more than luck.  Moreover, Williams has won two women's doubles titles at each of the four.

[Photo: REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol]

It's the combination of longevity, versatility and adaptability that makes Venus Williams the greatest tennis player of the open era and, perhaps, all time.

In this case, the math works out in her favor:

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