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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Is Pete Sampras the greatest ever?
Pete Sampras
In winning Wimbledon for the seventh time on Sunday night and claiming his 13th Grand Slam victory, Pete Sampras has created history and become the most successful tennis player of all time.

His triumph on the grass courts of south-west London meant he finally moved clear of the Australian Roy Emerson's Grand Slam tally of 12, which he had equalled last year.

Sampras, who called Wimbledon "a home from home" after his rain-interrupted four set win over Pat Rafter, also promised to return next year and possibly further extend his modern-day record of seven Wimbledon titles.

But do the right-hander's achievements now make him the best tennis player of all time? After Sampras' latest win, former English tennis star John Lloyd called him: "one of the greatest players of all time, if not the greatest."

However, despite his prowess at Wimbledon, Sampras has still to win the French Open, the only Grand Slam title to elude him so far in his illustrious career.

Yet since 1993 Sampras has only lost one game in the Wimbledon championships - a quarter-final against Richard Krajicek in 1996 - and in his finals has triumphed against the likes of Agassi, Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic.

Given the fact that he was also carrying a leg injury throughout this tournament, does that make his achievement even more impressive?

And do you agree with John Lloyd's statement about Sampras possibly being the greatest ever?

This page has been archived.

Have your say


He is indeed the greatest of the modern tennis players. Even though he has not won a French Open, we should understand how competitive and how popular tennis has become from the earlier years of Grand Slams. Because of the popularity people from more countries are playing in the top seeds and the competition is getting tough.
Hari Krishnan, India

Only Rod Laver can compare to Sampras. Were it not for his absense from the slams 1963 - 1967, he would easily have won 20 slams in total. Still, I don't think this is the most important factor. Pete Sampras has been dominant in the most competitive of decades where there has been true depth. Matching him up to Laver, Borg and McEnroe et al is pointless. There is no competeition ...Sampras is the best. People should not over-hype former champions.
Robert, England

You'd be a fool to say he is not the best of all time

The 'H', England
I must say that Sampras undoubtably is the best in the world at the moment. Looking back over the years, you must ask yourself what would the players of old be capable of in the modern game. I think you'll come up with the same answer, they would be average players. The game today is a hell of a lot more gruelling than in the past. Just looking at old clips, it looked like they were knocking up at the start of the match. Sorry, but as Sampras is the best at the moment, and has been so for some time, you'd be a fool to say he is not the best of all time.
The 'H', England

Congratulations must go to Pistol Pete on his victorious win at his home Centre Court Wimbledon, 53 matches won out of 54. What a magnificent achievement. He's the most successful grass court player of this modern era we can't really say of all time. Pete has all the elements in his game to win and he has proved that over all the years especially breaking the record of Roy Emerson's Grand Slam wins. Not even an injury can stop him. I don't think anyone will be able to match pete but definetly he is a class player on and off court. Well done Pete.
Niall Moonan, Ireland

Pistol Pete's supremacy on grass is undisputed. His fluent service action, his flowing ground strokes and excellent control of vollies make him the best ever on grass. But he still has to conquer Roland Garros which is the only hurdle in declaring him the best ever. My opinion might be shared by many but one thing's for sure: No one has been as consistent in the game as Sampras.
Tarun Bhatnagar, India

Pete obviously can be regarded as one of the best players in the world at the moment after his triumph at Wimbledon. Though he has not won the French Open but his record of Grand Slams speaks for itself. People may say that he may not be the best player of all time because he is not good on clay, but being ranked number one in the world for six years in a row is a convincing argument.
John Ngui, Malaysia

No, Pete Sampras is not the best tennis player ever. He is undoubtedly the best grass court player currently, and maybe the best ever. However, he has never been able to attain the versatility and all round skill of Bjorn Borg who was capable of winning on any surface. Pete Sampras has never looked impressive on clay has not achieved anything at Roland Garros over the years. This Wimbledon run must be kept in perspective, he is a great player but not the greatest.
John Whitney, Russia

Borg won six at the French and five at Wimbledon and never bothered to compete seriously in the Australian. Who is to say he wouldn't have won two titles there and claimed the record number of grand slams? Someone else has remarked Emerson is not mentioned in the same breath as Laver, for all his 12 titles. So it has to be more than just winning the most grand slams. The missing French Open is a glaring hole in the Sampras resume and Borg's wins are all the more impressive considering he was not a serve-and-volleyer.
Anand, USA

One can easily say that Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time

Shrikant B, India
Rod Laver is the greatest player of all time. Had he played between the years 1963 and 1967 in Grand Slam competitions, he would have won many more titles. Emerson was only an average player and won all his titles when the best players of his generation were professionals. Laver's Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969 prove that he would have dominated world tennis in that decade.He was also a more complete player than Sampras, with a greater range of shots. Both Laver and Sampras are great players but Laver was the greatest.
Michael Sanderson, Australia/born in the UK

Well, I would say that he is the greatest of the greatest era in tennis. There isn't a player from the past who could match his achievements in the present. Tennis is tougher now in terms of the quality of the field, as well the surface.
Gopinath, USA

Whilst Sampras may have won the titles, his characteristic "I have an injury" at the beginning or during each title ensures that win or lose his excuse is always ready. If he wins the injury was overcome and if he loses his injury was the cause. He's no "class act". Emerson, like Laver always lost and won graciously.
Virginia Racine, Australia

The game has changed considerably from the time when Laver played - since his achievement is the one generally regarded as a marker for other players.
Sampras can only be considered the best ever when he has won the French Open on clay.

Fraser Chisholm, UK
Andre Agassi, despite having won the four slams, did so in different years, where each of those years yielded him mixed results. In a scenario, with new talents, specialised players and a year-long playing schedule, Sampras has not only won the most slams, but has also remained no.1 for a long time. He may not have won all the slams, but he has certainly dominated the decade. None of his peers, including Agassi, can claim such a dominance. Isn't that enough of a mark of greatness?
Sheila Dixit, Fiji

The greatness of Sampras stems as much from his incredible achievements on the court, as from his impeccable behaviour on and off it. Taking both into account - and I believe the second factor is just as important as the first - one can easily say that Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time.
Shrikant B, India

It is very difficult to compare players from different era's, what with changing technology being a major factor in the sport nowadays. Pete is definitely a great athlete and usually very balanced, except a couple of times when he had his share of histrionics that made people doubt whether he was really ill and so on. But until he slams, or at least wins the French, I guess he won't be considered the greatest.
Devanand, K, India

I think Pete Sampras certainly has one of the greatest records, but to argue that someone is or isn't the greatest ever is futile. It's enough to be one of the greatest.

Chris, UK
"Greatest of all time?" No. Top five? Yes. Sampras hasn't won the French Open. Even if he wins the French Open for the next two years he's not the best. Rod Laver was banned for five years at the peak of his career, god only knows how many more "Grand slams" he would of won.
Warwick, USA

It's tricky comparing Sampras with successful players in different eras. The percentage of skilful players is greater now compared with past decades. The match statistics, the opponents Pete had in all tournaments should prove he is on his own, in a class above the rest.
Sheri Pitigala, USA

It is undeniable that Pistol Pete Sampras now stands as the greatest of all players in tennis

Omphiele Rhee, Botswana
Without doubt Sampras is the best. People often make comparison to Laver and point out that he won the Grand Slams but back then three championships were played on grass. If that were still the case today can you imagine how many tournaments Sampras would win?
Steve, Spain

Presently he may not be playing as good as he was two years ago but still he survives with his professional approach, determination and coolness. He is also able to beat the new generation. Maybe we should call him the greatest professional player of the professional era.
Jaile Sebes, India

It is undeniable that Pistol Pete Sampras now stands as the greatest of all players in tennis. This young and talented star has made history and all accolades are due to him.
Omphiele Rhee, Botswana

The best you can ever be is the best in your era. Making comparisons between players from different eras in any sport makes for an interesting debate, but is ultimately not capable of being definitively answered. All we can say for certain is that for most of the 90's Sampras was the greatest player of his generation and deserves to recognised alongside Hoad, Laver, Borg, McEnroe and Lendl, each of whom dominated the game for considerable periods of time after the war.
Richard, UK

Pete has to win the French to add to his other titles . Until then he has yet to conquer the game in its entirety and can not be called the greatest player of all time.
Chris , USA

I may agree that Sampras is the best of all time if he ever wins the French title

David Green, England
Yes Pete is the greatest player of all time, no question. The era in which he has dominated has been more competitive with a greater number of talented opponents that anyone previously has had to face. The fact that he has not won all four grand slam events and has yet to win on clay does not lessen his achievements. He still has a few years yet and could carry on breaking his own record. I think we should all give him the recognition he deserves.
Stuart Morrison, Scotland

Pete Sampras did not play one seed on his way to the finals. The vote is out as to whether or not Sampras even had an injury. No, he is not the greatest player of all time. He must win on all surfaces to enjoy that accolade.
Sally Cooperman, USA

I may agree that Sampras is the best of all time if he ever wins the French title. There's no doubt he's a great player, but his game is suited only to the faster courts. The true test is whether or not a player has the all-round game to do what Laver did - win a Grand Slam.
David Green, England

Pete Sampras is an eloquent sportsman who understates his talent. He plays his sport without ranting, raving or complaining. He has proven himself to be the best ever through victories all around the world and remains a gentleman and a superb role model. I would suggest that he richly deserves the accolade of "greatest ever player" and only when his record is bettered will there be cause for debate. It's interesting to see a few negative responses from the readers from Australia - I wonder why??
Neil, Great Britain

Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time - he has all the strokes, determination and resilience and he's not finished yet

Stuart, England
To win seven Wimbledon singles titles is an outstanding achievement. But would Sampras have beaten McEnroe, Borg or Connors? He still hasn't won the French Open. Andre Agassi has won all 4 slams.
Trev, UK

Sampras' achievements at Wimbledon certainly make him the greatest player Wimbledon has ever seen, and that is certainly a powerful argument to make him the greatest player the world has seen. Congratulations Pete, you are a Champion in every sense of the word.
Philip levy, UK

I'd say that Pete Sampras is, without a doubt, the most talented grass court player around. He has a great aura that is reflected in his games. I hope he comes back next year to win the title an eighth time. Good luck and God bless you Pete!!!
Carol Devadasan, England, U.K.

He has yet to claim a grand slam clean sweep. Let's wait and see. There is no doubt Sampras is one of the great players, but I'd say Rod Laver is the greatest player of all time.
Santhosh S, India

Pete Sampras can never be hailed as the greatest player of the modern era, let alone of all time, until he wins in Paris

Paul Baker, Australia
Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time. Pete may be labelled as a serve and volley player, but in reality he's the most complete player in tennis. He proved that in last year's final with Agassi. For a man to compete at that high level with such consistency over several years is nothing but pure genius.
Osei, England

Pete Sampras can never be hailed as the greatest player of the modern era, let alone of all time, until he wins in Paris. It is unlikely that he ever will win there because his groundstrokes are not good enough, and this counts against Sampras as the best player ever. I think his incredible tally of wins at Wimbledon is due to the fact that he has been, by far and away, the best serve and volleyer in the world over the last decade, and his victories at the All England Club should not be used to cloud his weaknesses in other areas of the game. Player of the decade, no doubt. Best player ever? He still has to prove himself.
Paul Baker, Australia

The pressure in top level sport, coupled with the emergence of many nations not previously playing tennis, installs Sampras as the greatest ever player. No-one has come close to achieving the dominance of Sampras for twenty years.
Paul, UK

Classifying Sampras as the greatest of all on the basis of a swag of Wimbledon titles and more majors than anyone else is flawed reasoning. Why? Because, firstly, most of his wins have been on grass and none on clay, so his prowess is seen to be somewhat restricted. Secondly, despite his previous record of 12 grand slams, no one would place Roy Emerson in even the top six of all time, so clearly the measure is flawed. Thirdly, Rod Laver, Sampras's main contender for the title of greatest of them all, was prohibited from playing the majors for 5 years when at the peak of his power. The fact is he won a grand slam (all four majors) in '62 before he turned professional, and he did it again in '67 - the next time he could enter the competitions. Successive grand slams. Sampras may lay claim to be the greatest when he betters that.
Robert, Australia

The young man dubbed "Pistol Pete" who makes his racket do the talking instead of resorting to theatrics like other players, is undeniably the greatest tennis player of all time. I think he's got more years ahead of him to cement that accolade.
Joe Appiah, Switzerland

There is no doubt in my mind that Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time. He is able to raise his game to whatever level is necessary in order to win the match. He has all the strokes, determination and resilience and he's not finished yet!
Stuart, England

The game today is much tougher then in the past. There are more top class players, and those players are fitter, faster and hit the ball much harder then in the past. The previous greats would have difficulty playing in the current era. Is he the greatest ever? Without a doubt !
D. Ryan, Germany

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