The Best: Lindsay
When looking at who has the best serve in the women's game the one name that
stands out for me is Lindsay Davenport. She not only had the best serve but she
also had the ability to really turn it on when it mattered - much like my men's
pick Pete Sampras.
There were many occasions where Davenport
was able to stroll through matches on the back of her serve and I think that
was one of the reasons why her career lasted as long as it did. She always knew
she had that serve in reserve if she ever got into trouble.
It was destructive, it was difficult to read, and she was always able to
produce big serves on break points down, set points down and even match points
She had a phenomenal serve - the best I have ever seen in the 20-odd
years I've been commentating on the game.
The Best of the Rest:
Well Brenda Schultz-McCarthy had
the biggest serve ever recorded - although it didn't come in a regular tour
match - so she deserves to be mentioned. It was a brute of a serve, but to be
honest if you look at the stats of service games won she wouldn't be up there
with the leading figures of the game, and if you are broken a number of times
then it is hard to call yourself one of the all-time great servers.
Venus and Serena Williams are interesting cases. Something has
happened to Venus's serve at the moment.
For me, she has been the best of the last decade but it has gone sadly
wrong now and there is something seriously amiss. I hope she addresses it
though because you can't dismiss what she achieved with it in the past. She
could serve amazingly quick - up to 129 m/ph - a record in a tour match that
still stands today. She could also serve out wide, had a good variety and was
difficult to read.
Serena too has an impressive serve. It is probably more reliable than
her sister's because Venus's has gone off at times while Serena's has been a
more constant factor. It is not that far behind in terms of velocity either.
Martina Navratilova and Steffi
Graf also had good serves, but you wouldn't say it was the stand-out factor
for either of them. I think it was more prominent a tool in Navratilova's game.
Graf was so great because of her movement, her all-court play, and her forehand
more than her serve.
Navratilova's serve was key though - all those Wimbledon
titles bare testament to that. She had good disguise, a bit like McEnroe - but
for me, Lindsay Davenport was the best.