If greatness is measured by the quality of the competition - Frazier helped define Ali - then Federer's achievement is made all the more impressive by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Great eras in any discipline come and go, even when nobody's paying attention. Arguably the golden era of professional tennis is now, even with fewer people watching.
Last weekend Serena Williams of the United States won her fifth Wimbledon women's singles title and 14th Grand Slam tournament overall, which puts her in rare air. It's more than one-time household name Billie Jean King, and at 30 she may be reeling in legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. For an encore Williams added a doubles title while paired with sister Venus. In that one family - which grew up playing on the inner city public courts of Compton, Calif. - are 10 Wimbledon singles trophies. It's a remarkable story. It's possible that the female players of today - who like Williams may serve well in excess of 100 miles per hour - would have given the male champions of yesteryear a run for their money.
Meanwhile, on the men's side Roger Federer of Switzerland won his seventh singles title at tennis' marquee tournament and 17th Grand Slam - a record - certainly putting his stamp on the claim of the game's best ever. If greatness is measured by the quality of the competition - Frazier helped define Ali - then Federer's achievement is made all the more impressive by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
TV ratings for tennis peaked about 1980 - when Bjorn Borg played John McEnroe in a classic at Wimbledon - and have tumbled since. Too bad, because these players are incredible. The world is missing something.
Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.