Let’s start with my age – 30. At the age of 30 I feel old in countless ways: I can no longer play tennis for any more than an hour without feeling it the next morning, no matter what time I go to bed I don’t sleep past 8am, I actually want to mow a lawn (that is, if I had one), I can’t have more than 3 alcoholic beverages without feeling their effects the next morning, etc, etc, etc. Meanwhile, in some parallel world (or, more simply, another country), Serena Williams & Roger Federer are winning Grand Slam tournaments at the same age! I don’t know whether to rejoice in the fact that, as I’ve been told countless times, life does indeed not end at 30; or get even more depressed at the gap in talent/stamina/athleticism/fill in the blank between myself and my fellow thirtysomethings. But enough about me…
Say what you want about Serena William’s attitude, her negative actions both on and off the court, whatever. For a few minutes, simply focus on her tennis game. To come all the way back from a serious medical condition and win Wimbledon for a 5th time (not to mention her 5th doubles title with her sister) is astounding. You will hear lots of people say that her winning is more evidence that the WTA is in dire straits right now, because if a seemingly out of shape Serena can take the Wimbledon Championships than no one at the top really deserves to be there. This is not the case. Azarenka played like a champion against Serena, Radwanska (save for the opening few games) would’ve beaten almost anyone else in Women’s tennis that day. The bottom line is when Serena is on, and when she is serving like Pete Sampras, I’m not sure that anyone in the history of the WTA could beat her. She might not be your favorite, she might actually be the exact opposite, but no matter what – she is the best. Kudos on your amazing fortnight, Serena.
I want to give Roger his own space here, so a quick word about the runner up. Andy Murray did not lose the finals, he simply got beat. He played like a top 4 player in the world, and lost to the guy who is now #1 in the world, and the greatest champion of this generation. Add on top of that he has the pressure of an entire nation on his shoulders (that is not an overstatement, if you believe it is then I urge you to go to London during Wimbledon next year), and I’d say he comprised himself in amazing fashion. And if your eyes didn’t get misty during his post match interview, you don’t have a soul.
As for Mr. Federer, the man just tied Pete Sampras for most Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championships (7) of all time, and in a week’s time will pass Pistol Pete for most weeks ranked #1. Does anything more need to be said? Probably not, but I’ll say it anyway. For me, Federer’s greatness is not measured in a single statistic – though the number of Grand Slam titles, or consecutive quarterfinal streak, or weeks at #1, etc. – but rather the body of work as a whole. Yes, I know he has a terrible win-loss record against Nadal…but consider that for Nadal to equal Federer’s quarterfinal streak (which now stands at 33), Nadal would have to make it that far in every Grand Slam he plays from now until the 2020 US Open. That is, of course, assuming Federer loses before the QF at this year’s US Open. Ha. Or how about that Federer is assured 287 weeks at #1, almost 6x as much as Djokovic and almost triple Nadal’s total. That gap will most likely tighten over the next couple of years, but it’s still staggering. And while there is a solid chance the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, or even Murray might challenge for the odd slam in 2017 (when they are all approximately Federer’s age now), I’ll let Milos Raonic have a free serve at my butt if any of them are consistently playing the final weekends of Grand Slams like Federer is now. At the age of 30, Federer is now ranked higher than other dominant players in his era who are in their primes…while there is no telling the future, I would be shocked of the same will be said of Nadal & Djokovic in five year’s time. Hell, for all we know, Federer will still be ranked #1 in 2017!
In summation, Serena and Roger and pretty damned good at tennis, and I feel privileged to be able to still watch them…even if my eyes are starting to go in my old age.