Has there every been such an unstoppable champion as Serena Williams?

Serena isn’t quite that unstoppable. Justine Henin won 7 slams between 2003-07, Serena managed just 4 in those years. She was stopped just fine.

Serena’s late career surge has a lot to do with the lack of any decent opposition. In her last four slam finals she’s been up against three slamless punching bags. (Wozniacki, Safarova, Muguruza).

Michael Jordan does not belong in this discussion. He had the benefit of an amazing multitalent at small forward, who stuck with the team through thick and thin, even during Jordan’s vacation in '94 and ‘95, despite being underpaid for nearly his entire career (think Lebron James could’ve used someone like him?), and a rock-solid power forward, and later an even better power forward who pretty much just fell in the Bulls’ laps, AND a genius coach with the absolute perfect mindset and gameplan for the team. That plus his team lost in the second round of the '95 playoffs. The idea that he won everything all by himself apparently comes from the need for sports fans to pin everything on one guy…y’know, like how Bill Buckner singlehandedly blew both a three run lead and the entire game 7, or France would have absolutely massacred Italy if Zinedine Zidane didn’t throw that headbutt.

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer played in the same era, therefore neither was an unstoppable juggernaut. Diego Maradona’s period of dominance was too short for consideration, nowhere near the long-term success of, say, Pele.

From everything I’ve heard of Wayne Gretzky, he is a true hockey megastar; sadly, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen him in action, so I can’t judge. I would be interested in a discussion of how he stands up to the hockey greats of the past.

Anyway, since I grew up following sumo and never completely stopped, I’d like to offer this.

He’s 30. He’s had to withdraw from a grand total of two tournaments in his entire career. He’s never had any health problems and is in fantastic shape. His grip power and forward charge are just about unstoppable. He knows all kinds of tricks and techniques from his Mongolian wrestling background. He already is two championships clear of Taiho’s record, a mark once thought absolutely unassailable. He’s on pace to break the Makuuchi division wins mark sometime in 2016.

His dominance has become so crushing that, reportedly, someone in the Sumo Association begged him to ease up on opponents, just to give the fans some hope…and he was so legitimately worried about killing the sport that he agreed to it! But favors don’t last forever, and when he’s in the twilight of his career with nothing to lose, expect him to be utterly merciless in increasing his already mountain-sized stamp on history.

That, to me, tells me everything I need to know about the “sport” of sumo wrestling.

It’s not a legitimate sport if a fan-favourite agrees to back off on the opposition. This has now just crossed into stupid wrestling territory.

Can you imagine a competitor in a real sport being asked, and willingly agreeing to cutting his opponents some slack? “Sorry Mr. Ovechkin, but we need you to stop scoring as frequently.” “Oh, da, no problem. I understand.”

Fuck that.

World Cup Semi Final. Germans against Brazilian.

Having an entire team agree to just take it easy and play out the second half of a game in which they have an insurmountable lead is a little different than asking one solo performer to take it easy on his competitors.

Hockey teams (for example) with a huge lead play a much more defensive game in the third period, but that doesn’t mean individual players won’t capitalize on scoring opportunities if they present themselves.

This question has been asked on this board before. My answer is always Marion Tinsley:

As good as Tendulkar is and has been, it’s hard to convey just how superior Bradman is in sheer figures. Bradman (and other Australian batsmen) were specifically targeted by what was widely condemned as an “unfair” bowling/fielding tactic in the 1932-33 Ashes series aimed at putting a brake on his phenomenal scoring. It succeeded to the extent that England scored a crushing victory in the series and that Bradman’s average for the series was only 56. But that curtailed average - considered a huge success for the English tactics - is still superior to Tendulkar’s.

Over his whole Test career, Bradman averaged 99.94, and it would have been 100 if he hadn’t been out for 0 in his very last innings. And over his first-class career, Bradman scored a hundred on average every third time he batted, or exactly once every other match (which shows clearly that half the time he played, Bradman didn’t need to bat twice).

As great as he was there still drivers that could compete on his level, like Mika Häkkinen. Sebastien Loeb on the other hand was virtually unstoppable. Nine WRC championships in a row.

How about darts?

In a variant; Walter Lindrum won the World Professional Billiards Championship in 1933 and 1934, and held it until his retirement in 1950 (for most of those years no other professional was prepared to challenge him). He would concede a start of up to 7000 points to his opponents.

It was a two run lead in Game 6, but yeah.

There is no comparison between someone like Jordan, Gretzky or Ruth and a person who dominates a sinle person sport. When Serena Williams wins it’s because Serena Williams was the best player, full stop. There is no help from anyone else. There is something much more pure about that kind of dominance.

Gretzky was the greatest hockey player of all time, full stop. I assure you he was as great as you have heard. A few players have briefly attained his level of dominance - Orr and Lemieux, certainly - but only briefly.

Still, Gretzky never single handedly took a team to a championship. No player can do that. He played twenty years and 16 times he didn’t win a Stanley Cup. The four times he did he had terrific teammates. So it is in any team sport.

Sébastien Loeb has been World Rallye Champion nine times in a row from 2004 until 2012.
Maybe Stephen Hendry should count for dominating snooker during the 90s, being world champion seven times from 1990 to 1999.

Xavi and Lothar Matthäus have been mentioned. I don’t think they qualify. Spain may have dominated world football/soccer from 2008 to 2012 and Xavi may have had a large part in all that - but it has been a major team effort: Casillas, Iniesta, Ramos, Puyol and many more were all major contributors to their success. I would not dare to claim one of them was more important than the others. A similar argument should be made for Matthäus. And even less so, as Germany hasn’t dominated world football in Matthäus’ time as Spain have during “their” time.

I’m biased (grew up as a Bruins fan right after Orr came into the NHL) but I think Orr was also a transformative player for the league. Gretzky deserves the title GOAT but I could see Orr, Lemieux, and even Gordie Howe in the conversation.

Different eras make direct comparisons difficult, but if given a single vote I’d still give it to Gretzky.

Men’s Tennis has had MUCH more competition in the last 10 plus years, and there was a time that, other than in Australia, Roger Federer was winning pretty much everything (clay was hi kryptonite)

So I would venture to say that ole Rog has been more dominant than Serena based on competition alone.

Gretzky is definitely the GOAT, but when Orr was in his prime, he was as far beyond any previous defenseman as Gretzky was beyond every other previous NHL center.

The young Gretzky was outscoring every other NHL center by 100 points a year. But Orr was scoring 100 points a year when defensemen just didn’t DO that. He was a revolutionary figure.

Gretzky at his peak was better than Orr at his peak, and Gretzky’s peak lasted longer. But like Gretzky, Orr did things no one had ever seen before or had ever expected to see.

If there were World Rankings during the Jack Nicklaus’s era, he would most likely been either #1 or #2 from the end of 1962 to the beginning of 1979. over 16 years. Palmer, Casper, Trevino, Miller, and Watson might have been number 1 for some of those period of times. All of Hall of Famers.

Wozniacki has been number 1 in Serena’s “reign” and she is no Hall of Famer IMO. There have been times where her ranking has dropped significantly either because of injury, suspension, or sheer boredom with the game.

I wouldn’t say that Clay was his Kyrptonite, because he was very good on clay, Just Nadal was so much better. Federers record on Clay vs Non Nadal Opponents is extraordinary.

IMO, the reason why Nadal’s Head to Head record against Fed is better is because Fed was so good on clay. He faced Nadal on Clay a lot in the finals of tournaments.

How about Al Oerter winning four straight Olympic gold medals in the discus, or Carl Lewis winning four straight Olympic gold medals in the long jump?

When it comes to unstoppable champions, it’s hard to beat Aleksandr Karelin. Greco-Roman wrestling, overall record of 887-2

I’ll give you that one. I guess I didn’t really think about just how many times he lost to Rafa in the finals.