The natural order was restored at Wimbledon as Roger Federer joined Pete Sampras as the most successful male competitor in its history, while Serena Williams claimed a fifth victory, emulating her sister Venus’ record, and only Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova have won more often in the professional era.
Most supporters in Centre Court on Sunday were hoping that history would be made as Andy Murray looked for his first grand slam and the first Briton since Fred Perry lifted the famous silverware 76 years ago. Some cautious supporters were also mindful of the last Briton to reach a final. Bunny Austin also had firm support behind him in the 1938 final against Don Budge, but won just four games in the entire match.
The Scot began strongly, and broke Federer within two minutes, and took the opening set. However the 17 time grand slam champion showed all his class in the second, and after the roof was closed during the third, most observers felt this played into the third seeds hands. Murray never let his standards slip, especially in the final set when the Swiss ace appeared to be pulling away, clawing back games that seemed to be slipping away. The 30 year-old closed the game out to become the oldest winner since Arthur Ashe in 1975, and will become the second oldest man after Andre Agassi to reach the number one world ranking.
“It feels nice to have my hands on the trophy again – like it’s never left me. It feels so familiar. I’ve obviously missed playing in the finals and it’s a great moment for me” Federer said after accepting the trophy. “I’ve gone through some struggles. There have been a lot of changes in my life so this one, like any Grand Slam victory, comes at the right time. I’m now level with Pete Sampras who is my hero and it feels amazing. It’s a truly magical moment.” Murray was highly emotional after the game, and struggled to compose himself for the courtside interview. “I’m getting closer,” he said later with the hint of a forced smile, and the crowd laughed with him. He paused for a moment, puffed out his cheeks and, voice croaking, congratulated Federer, thanked his team and paid tribute to legions of well-wishers, inside the stadium and drenched on the hill, for their support.
Serena Williams picked up her fifth Wimbledon and fourteenth career grand slam to dispel any notions that her career was slowing down. After a life threatening blood clot, and two operations on her foot, it was feared the American would have to call time on her career, but her stunning 6-1 5-7 6-2 over Agnieszka Radwanska was a reminder that while the wins puts her in fourth position in the world rankings, she is certainly still the woman to beat.
“People were thinking, ‘can she do it again?'” Williams said as her victory began to sink in. “But now I’m winning titles. I don’t hear what people say and quite frankly I don’t really care. Obviously, I would love to be No1 but if I had to choose now between grand slams and rankings, I would choose grand slams. I’ve been No1, but grand slams add up.”
Radwanska had been suffering with a respiratory infection going into the decider and had to forfeit her doubles match with her sister Urszula the previous day. The number three seed produced a sterling effort on Centre Court, demonstrating huge determination and skill in claiming the gruelling second set. The energy expended in that set clearly took its toll for the final set, but the Pole can be satisfied with her tournament, having never got past the quarter-final stage of a major tournament.
Federer and Williams emphatically showed critics that despite being in their 30’s, their hunger is as strong as ever. They have put behind them loss of form and serious injuries to cement their place in history, and are eager to add to their silverware collection. “It’s always about trying for another one. Every tournament that I go into, I go in trying to win it, so that’s the way I go” admitted Williams. “I’m like a fine wine, I get better with age. I want to keep doing more, I want to keep playing well. I don’t think about any legacy at all – I’m definitely going to be playing for many more years to come.