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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Who is the G.O.A.T?

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GRAPHIC: CASEY WOOD ’23/THE HAWK

Black female athletes should be leading the debate

The greatest athlete is certainly not some overly-macho football player with an ego the size of the moon. So maybe he’s won seven Super Bowls (after openly cheating), big deal.  Every football season on Twitter people claim how seven Super Bowl victories make Tom Brady the greatest athlete of all time. However, that completely undermines the numerous and far more impressive feats that female athletes have accomplished. 

Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles and 16 Grand Slam doubles. Naomi Osaka is an undefeated Grand Slam champion. Simone Biles is so good at gymnastics, there are moves she isn’t allowed to do because it’s unfair to other gymnasts. The judges don’t know how to score her runs because she keeps inventing new moves—and they keep naming them after her. Misty Copeland is one of the most revered prima ballerinas in the world, and she didn’t even start ballet until she was 13. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team has won four world cups, while the men’s team hasn’t even been to the finals. 

The greatest of all time (GOAT) is, undoubtedly, a woman. All of these women are excellent contenders for the title of GOAT athlete but, without a doubt, it is Williams. 

Overlooking Williams and saying that the GOAT is a man is sexist.  Twitter fans can certainly state their opinion that Tom Brady is one of the greatest athletes of all time. But saying he’s the greatest is simply not true, and completely erases all of the things Williams has accomplished to put her on top.

Not considering her as the greatest athlete of all time undermines the prolific and record-breaking accomplishments she has achieved, which are far more impressive and difficult than that of Brady’s. 

Historically, Black female athletes have been overlooked. Williams, as well as other Black female athletes, are not considered GOATs because they’re Black women. Women are rarely added into the mix, and Black women are considered even less often. This is inherently sexist, misogynistic and racist. 

If you look at the statistics, this point is even clearer. Serena is the highest earning female athlete of all time. She has 23 Grand Slam titles, the most of any tennis player ever. From 2009-18, she didn’t lose two matches in a row. Not a single set of consecutive losses. When she was young, she beat players twice her age and now she’s beating players half her age. In 2017, she won the Australian open to earn another Grand Slam while eight weeks pregnant. She consistently sets records and breaks barriers. 

But still, every year, I have to hear about how Brady’s the greatest. In 2014, when Brady was on the Patriots, he was caught openly cheating against the Indianapolis Colts by ordering the deliberate deflation of footballs . Deflating footballs makes them easier to throw and catch, assisting the Patriots in their win  at the American Football Conference Championship Game. The only punishment for Brady was a four game suspension. 

However, when Serena clashed with a referee who accused her of “coaching,” which is when a tennis player’s coach calls out advice from the sidelines, she fought back and said she’d rather lose than cheat. The referee was relentless and continued making unfair calls, causing Serena to get angry and slam her racquet on the ground. The referee took away another point and a third was taken away for, “verbal abuse in the judgment of the umpire, which required a game penalty.” When male tennis players do the same thing, it’s no big deal, by the way.  

A Black woman shows aggression and anger in her sport and is stripped of precious points that cost her a Grand Slam, what would’ve been her 24th title. A white man cheats and is allowed to go to the Super Bowl every year and consistently gets called the GOAT. Coincidence? Not quite.

Williams held the No. 1 tennis ranking for a combined six years (319 non-consecutive weeks), has 851 career wins, 23 Grand Slam titles playing singles and 16 Grand Slam titles playing doubles. She wins 85% of games she plays (851 wins, 148 losses). Brady has won only 76.7% (264 wins, 80 losses in his NFL career). 

Brady is the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Serena is one of the oldest tennis players currently and won a Grand Slam while pregnant. It’s not a question of who the GOAT is. It’s a question of why we keep entertaining the sexist idea that the GOAT could be anyone other than Williams.

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