There's no question that Pete Sampras, with a record 13 Grand Slam titles in his career, ranks as one of the greatest men's tennis players of all time.
Former ATP Tour pro MaliVai Washington provided ESPN.com with in-depth analysis throughout Wimbledon. Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.
But while Sampras is easily one of the top two or three players ever to pick up a tennis racket, it's difficult to pick the best player because the game -- and players -- have changed so much over time since the first Grand Slam was held in the 1800s.
Roy Emerson won 12 Grand Slams. Rod Laver won 11.
What might be more important than the overall number of Grand Slam titles, however, is the ability to win all four majors. Emerson and Laver -- and Andre Agassi, another one of the all-time greats -- have done it, and that counts for a lot in my book.
Sampras now has seven Wimbledon titles, four U.S. Open championships and a pair of wins at the Australian Open. But in 10 trips to Paris, he has never been able to win the French Open -- or master the clay courts of Roland Garros. Sampras hasn't even reached the French Open final and has advanced past the quarterfinals only once.
Still, several other great tennis legends -- such as Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl -- have come up short in their quest to notch wins at all four Grand Slams. They remain great players who have accomplished great things.
And with seven Wimbledon championships, Sampras remains the greatest grass-court player in the history of the sport.
A look at his 13 Grand Slam victories:
|No luck needed on these 13
1990 U.S. Open|
Final: Beat fourth-seeded Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3, 6-2
Highlights: Won four of seven matches in straight sets; eliminated three-time U.S. Open champion and third-ranked Ivan Lendl in five sets in quarterfinals; also beat John McEnroe and Thomas Muster.
Washington: "In addition to becoming the youngest player to ever win the U.S. Open, Sampras' quarterfinal victory over Ivan Lendl was huge and signified a changing of the guard at the U.S. Open. Lendl had reached eight consecutive finals, but Sampras snapped the streak."
Final: Beat third-seeded Jim Courier 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-3
Highlights: Also beat fourth-ranked Boris Becker (in straight sets) and 13th-seeded Andre Agassi.
Washington: "Rain pushed the men's final back a day, and when it was played, Sampras and fellow American Jim Courier met for the title -- on July 4. Sampras went on to win his first of many Wimbledon titles."
1993 U.S. Open|
Final: Beat No. 15 seed Cedric Pioline 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Highlights: Won five of seven matches in straight sets while dropping just two sets in the tournament.
Washington: "Sampras' second Grand Slam of the year (he also won Wimbledon) really starts his domination the men's tennis tour; he wins at least two Grand Slam titles a year for three consecutive years."
1994 Australian Open|
Final: Beat ninth-seeded Todd Martin 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-4
Highlights: Needed five sets to beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov in a second-round victory that included a 9-7 fifth set.
Washington:"Sampras wins his first major in Australia -- and also has his best year yet, winning a career-high 10 titles, including five straight and seven of his first eight tournaments of the year."
Final: Beat No. 4 seed Goran Ivanisevic 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5), 6-0
Highlights: Overcame 25 aces in final -- and two tie-breakers -- to win second straight Wimbledon title; also beat sixth-ranked Todd Martin in semifinal.
Washington: "Sampras notches his eighth win of the year, and becomes the second American (Agassi was the first, in 1992) in three years to deny Goran Ivanisevic his first Wimbledon title."
Final: Beat third-seeded Boris Becker 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-4, 6-2
Highlights: As the No. 2 seed, Sampras also notched a five-set semifinal victory over Goran Ivanisevic.
Washington: "After beating Becker in the final, Becker essentially handed over the reigns to Sampras. Although I can't remember the exact words, Becker, one of the greatest grass-court players ever, told Sampras, 'Now you're better than I am.' "
1995 U.S. Open|
Final: Beat top-seeded Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5
Highlights: Lost just three sets en route to title.
Washington: "This match is the one that triggered Agassi's two- or three-year decline in the mid-1990s decline.Although Agassi had achieved a No. 1 ranking before, he had never been No. 1 at the end of the year, which is what really matters. That year, Thomas Muster won the French Open, Agassi won the Australian Open and Sampras won Wimbledon, and entering the U.S. Open, Agassi said whoever won would be the tour's legitimate No. 1. For the next few years, Agassi really struggled mentally."
1996 U.S. Open|
Final: Beat No. 2 seed Michael Chang 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
Highlights: Down two sets to one, Sampras rallied to beat Alex Corretja 7-6 (5), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7) in the quarterfinals. Sampras, suffering from the flu, vomited courtside during the match.
Washington: "Sampras is the best pressure player there is, and proved it here, denying fellow American Michael Chang, who was ranked No. 2 at the time, his only opportunity to become No. 1 in the world."
1997 Australian Open|
Final: Beat Carlos Moya 6-2, 6-3, 6-3
Highlights: Beat fifth-ranked Thomas Muster in straight sets in the semifinals.
Washington: "Sampras went 8-0 in championship matches in 1997, and overwhelmed Moya, who was making his first Grand Slam final appearance."
Final: Beat Cedric Pioline 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
Highlights: Also beat 18th-ranked Boris Becker, the highest-ranked opponent Sampras faced at the All England Club in '97.
Washington: "After losing in the 1996 Wimbledon quarterfinals, Sampras begins another dominating three years at the All England Club as he wins his fourth title."
Final: Beat No. 14 seed Goran Ivanisevic 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
Highlights: Sampras joins Bjorn Borg as the only player in the Open Era to win at least one Grand Slam title in six consecutive years; six sets decided by tie-breaker.
Washington: "For the second time in the 1990s, Sampras denies Ivanisevic, who served 32 aces, a Grand Slam title. It was Goran's best opportunity to win. The final was incredible. Rarely do you see a five-set final in a Grand Slam."
Final: Beat fourth-seeded Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Highlights: Lost just one set (3-6 to sixth-ranked Tim Henman in semifinals) throughout tournament.
Washington: "Sampras plays arguably his best match ever to win his sixth Wimbledon title in seven years, and beats Agassi just a month after Agassi's French Open win."
Final: Beat No. 12 seed Patrick Rafter 6-7 (10), 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2
Highlights: Sampras wins his 28th consecutive Wimbledon match (and improves to 53-1 at the All England Club over the past eight years) to surpass Roy Emerson for the most Grand Slam titles (13) and tie Willie Renshaw for the most Wimbledon titles (seven). In final, which was interrupted twice because of rain, Sampras served 27 aces at up to 133 mph and fought a 4-1 deficit in the second-set tiebreaker, all while playing with acute tendinitis in his left shin, which prevented him from practicing between matches.
Washington: "Pete's ability to come from behind in that second-set tiebreaker goes to show you why Pete is Pete -- he can somehow perform at the absolute top of his game when he needs it the most and at the absolute biggest moments. What's even more incredible is the amount of pressure he was able to put up with during Wimbledon. There wasn't a single press conference where someone wasn't asking him about the record (13 Grand Slams), and that had to be on his mind every day. But to play the kind of tennis he did -- and to be able to handle Rafter, who was playing his best grass-court tennis of his career -- was pretty phenomenal."