Former world No. 1 Connors received criticism from fans for comments he made about the tennis legends while discussing the 2023 Wimbledon final.
During this discussion, Connors stated that Federer and Nadal, who have 20 and 14 Grand Slam titles respectively, could not be thought of as the greatest players of their time due to the dominance of the other Big Three member, Novak Djokovic.
Referring to people’s thoughts about the Serb’s current career status, Connors used the Swiss and the Spaniard’s large fanbases as examples to support Djokovic, saying
“It comes to a point where a lot of people think he’s had enough. To me that’s bulls**t. Look at all the people that were on the Federer bandwagon and the Nadal bandwagon as the greatest of all time. They’re not even the greatest of all time in their own era.”
This sparked outrage among some fans, but now Connors has defended himself on the latest episode of his ‘Advantage Connors’ podcast. He did so by underlining that it was the fans who started using Grand Slam victories as the main reference point to decide the greatest players of all time in the first place,
“They’ve made the rules that the Grand Slams have become the important thing. You know, ‘He’s won this many Grand Slams and that’s why he’s the best.’ For me, I go back to every day, every match, every tournament, every year, it seems that that changed in the past 15-20 years, where it’s all about Grand Slams and how many you win,” he said.
Moreover, Connors made it clear that it was not his intention to insult the two tennis stars, but that because 23-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic has more major titles than them, he should be considered by modern standards the greatest player of his era,
“I’m not saying and I never said that Federer and Nadal aren’t the great players that they are, I just said that there’s a new guy on the top of the heap, that’s all. And he’s won the most Grand Slams at the moment.”
He then went on to praise the pair, adding
“I was not saying that they are not great players and I’m not in the kiss-a*s business anyway. I’m not going to say they are or if they’re not. They are and they’ve proven that and they’ve proven it for 15, 16, 17, whatever amount of years that they’ve been playing, with the amount of Grand Slams that they’ve won. I’m just saying that the rules were set on the importance of the Grand Slams. That’s all I’m saying.”