This won’t be a post about GOATs or Ghosts. Just appreciation for a sport and one particular player. I have two distinct memories of Tennis. One is of my dad trying to teach me and my siblings how to play the sport. We all gave it a half hearted try but we weren’t interested. The other memory is of Wimbledon. During my childhood I spent many summer mornings watching Wimbledon on HBO. I looked forward to the Tournament every summer. In the time spent watching Wimbledon I was able to learn the rules of Tennis and the great history of this particular tournament.
Wimbledon is one of the four major events – Grand Slams – in professional tennis. The other 3 are the Australian Open played in Melbourne, Australia; the French Open played in Paris, France; the US Open played in New York City. Wimbledon which is played in London, is the oldest of the four Slams and was founded in 1877. The competition in London is played on a grass surface while the French Open is played on clay and the Australian Open and US Open are played on hard court. I’ve had many fond memories of Wimbledon like the first time the Williams Sisters played each other in the final or that time Serena “C-walked” after winning a Gold Medal there during the 2012 London Olympics. Another great memory is from 2010 when John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest match in Wimbledon and tennis history. The match started on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 and ended on Thursday, June 24, 2010 lasting 11 hours 5 minutes.
Far and above all of those memories is watching Roger Federer play. Four years ago, I was asking for Fed to retire – as if we know each other personally – via Twitter. My exact words were “Don’t want to see him out there flabby and sick.” Cause at that point he was. 2013 marked the first time he had failed to reach at least one Grand Slam Final since 2002. He regained a bit of form in 2014 and 2015 to reach 3 finals out of the 8 Grand Slams he played. But in 2016 he again failed to reach a final. He skipped the French Open and US Open while reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Many fans (myself included) felt that we wouldn’t see him win another Slam Championship. Tennis has always been seen as a young person’s sport and now with Roger in his mid-30s it looked like his playing career was nearing an end. Roger has found a way to amaze us once again despite the negativity around him. He started the year by winning the Australian Open and then skipped the French Open. Then on yesterday he won the 19th Grand Slam title (most amongst Men) of his career. Federer put himself at the top of the list for most Men’s Singles titles won (8) at Wimbledon. He has long been seen as one of the best to play on grass and he didn’t disappoint this year by winning every set he played in the tournament. In the Open Era, Federer has not only won the most Grand Slam titles but has also appeared in the most finals (29), semifinals (42), quarterfinals (50), match wins (321), and appearances (70). He has a winning percentage of 86.3 which puts him 3rd. To put that in perspective, from 2004-2010 Federer played in 21 Grand Slam finals and won 15 of them.
If you watch a tennis match that features Roger Federer you will often hear the announcers speak about his grace and elegance on and off of the court. There is a ball of fierce competition that powers Roger when he steps on the court. Without it there’s no way he would’ve turned around his game at this point in his career. Tennis is an individual sport but after winning yesterday Roger was quick to thank – his team, family, opponents, fans – everyone. I took solace in the fact that even for a player at Federer’s level there has to be joy in what he’s doing. We should all keep that in mind.