Holding some kind of a record for whatever reason must be pleasing in some way to the holder and/or resented by others. They could refer to how many times or how long one has held a particular public office, say, as Prime Minister or as Secretary to one regardless of how that came about.

That aspect of ‘records’ once came to mind when a colleague of mine declared that he had been shoved into the public service Pool for longer than anybody else (including me).

In sports or games ‘records’ could be established in ways that the rules of the game were not designed to allow. At motor sports for example one could force a rival into a crash or have someone else do it. In boxing you could bite off his ear, in cricket you could ‘knock his block off’, have his bowling action declared illegal or have his name dragged into some charge of ‘match-fixing’.

Time was when the World Champion, so considered, at chess could hold on to that title simply by refusing to play against some rival he feared as Emmanuel Lasker, 1895-1921, or Alexander Alekhine, 1927-1946, contrived to do. In case he lost, Mikhail Botvinnik, 1948-1963, insisted on a return match, which meant that his opponent had to defeat him twice within a year. Gary Kasparov, 1984-1999, launched his own championships – rather as it has been in boxing with its several belts.

Today the focus is on tennis: how many Grand Slam singles titles?
Steffi Graf did win 22 Grand Slam singles titles. She was ranked No 1 four years running till 1991 when Monica Seles went past her. Seles repeated that in 1992 and was leading the field the following year when, in April 1993, during a break in a game in Hamburg, she was attacked by a fan of Graf. He had been unable to put up with the prospect of his heroine never reaching the top spot again. He had used a kitchen (boning) knife with a 9 inch blade to stab her. Miraculously it had missed her spine.

At that point Seles had won six Grand Slams, the only player to do so while yet a teenager. In the four of them in which they met she had defeated Graf thrice. In Grand Slams she had won 54 out of 55 matches.

Other great players, including, Martina Navratilova, declared that the tennis world and Monica had been ‘cheated’.