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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Roger Federer

"I believe right now we're more likely to see Roger back," Tennis Channel analyst Pam Shriver said.

Photo credit: Hopman Cup

Superstars converged when Serena Williams and Roger Federer shared the court in a transcendent tennis moment at the 2019 Hopman Cup.

The iconic champions seems to be taking disparate paths on the comeback road.

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Given both champions are aiming to comeback from leg injuries at ages when even elite players can lose a half-step, clearly it's tough to call how their comeback paths will track.

Still, both have made successful comebacks in the past and both have said they're intent to play again.

In a social media appearance with Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, the 40-year-old Serena suggested she was targeting a possible Wimbledon return.

The 40-year-old Federer has listed both is hometown tournament in Basel and the 2022 Laver Cup at London's O2 Arena on his calendar.

So who is more likely to play tournament tennis this year: Serena or Roger?

We put the question to Hall of Famer and Tennis Channel analyst Pam Shriver during a conference call with the media to promote TC's Roland Garros coverage starting Sunday.

Shriver says Federer is more likely to play a tournament this year, but suggests Serena is the better bet to play a Grand Slam.

Seeing is believing and Shriver says the sight of Federer seemingly progressing in some training videos he's posted contrasts with Serena, who has been relatively quiet on social media and whose coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, is now coaching former world No. 1 Simona Halep.

"What concerns me about Serena is through the years she's actually kept us occasionally informed with her workouts and playing tennis on her social media posts," Shriver said. "Maybe I missed something, but I haven't seen anything that's really giving away that she's back on the tennis court. By now, given it was a hamstring strain or slight tear or whatever happened at Wimbledon last year against Sasnovich, she should be back, so I'm really concerned there.

"Whereas I feel like Roger is giving us some evidence of his progression towards a comeback. I believe right now we're more likely to see Roger back."

The fact that no one—not even Federer himself—can forecast how the Swiss superstar's surgically-repaired knee would respond to the rigors of a best-of-five-set match is a primary reason why Shriver sees Serena more likely to play a major than the Swiss Maestro.

"But if you were to say who would we be more likely to see back in a Grand Slam singles, I might pivot to Serena," Shriver told Tennis Now. "I don't know about this year, but I think Roger is going to find three out of five sets really a challenge.

"But I think he can rehab his knee and certainly go out more on his own terms than what happened at Wimbledon last year.So I guess I would go with Roger."

Four-time Olympic gold-medal champion Serena and Federer are friends and have each named each other as the GOAT in past interviews.

In a 2018 interview with Wall Street Journal Magazine, Federer cited Serena as GOAT.

“It’s been fascinating to watch,” he told the magazine of Serena’s career. “She had a totally different upbringing — I came up through Switzerland with the federation, she did it with her dad and her sister. It’s an amazing story unto itself — and then she became one of the greatest, if not the greatest tennis player of all time.”

When asked to clarify if he was selecting Serena as the greatest female player of all time, Federer reiterated he regards Serena as the greatest “overall” player of all time.

Asked her view on the GOAT debate, Shriver said she regards Serena as the women's GOAT and her former doubles partner, and sometime TC broadcast partner Martina Navratilova as the Greatest All Around Player of all time.

"Well, if you're talking singles player since the open era began, it's Serena on the women's side," Shriver said. "So in other words, careers that are played all in the open era, it's Serena. And probably I would say Serena in singles throughout history.

"If I can do a category of all-around greatest, meaning singles, doubles, mixed, I would put Navratilova's record, singles, doubles, mixed up against anybody, and she would be my greatest all-around player.

Tennis Express

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has the inside track for men's GOAT, according to Shriver, who believes the Serbian will win between two and four more Slams.

"If you want me to dive into what I think is going to play out over the next four years, I think Novak Djokovic will be considered the greatest male singles player of all time," Shriver said. "We don't really have a similar Navratilova category on the men's side unless you go back to John McEnroe's five years.

"But Johnny Mac just didn't win enough singles majors to be -- when he dominated singles and doubles over that same five-year period, he would be in that all-around category. But let's say Martina -- let's say Martina covers it for both men and women."


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