Wimbledon and Roger Federer. Since the turn of the millennium, the two have been synonymous at times. The Swiss maestro has reached new heights at the Championships in his career. Federer has lifted the heralded golden trophy eight times on Centre Court, which is more than any other player in history. Now aged 37, he will aim to accomplish that again in the coming fortnight.
Federer’s first couple of attempts at Wimbledon made no headlines. In his first four years at SW19, he went out in the first round thrice. Federer rose to stardom in 2003 when he won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. He defeated Mark Philippoussis in the final. The 21-year-old sporting a man bun would soon become a dominant force at Wimbledon. The man bun gave way to wavy curls, but his dominance on Centre Court only grew.
From 2004 to 2007, he won four successive Wimbledon titles. Rafael Nadal was a stubborn obstacle, and the Spaniard was conquered in the latter two years. Eventually, Nadal got his revenge, and he brought Federer’s five-year run to an end in 2008. The final that year is considered by many as the most excellent match in tennis history.
Federer bounced back immediately, and he claimed the prize in 2009. Andy Roddick was his opponent in that final. Since then, his success at the Championships has dried somewhat. He has claimed the title just two times in the last decade. Federer equalled Pete Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon singles titles when he beat Andy Murray in the final in 2012. “It’s amazing,” he had said. “It equals me with Pete Sampras, who’s my hero.”
The journey to win his eighth to claim the record outright was a long one. Injuries affected him seriously, and he struggled compared to his lofty standards. The lowest point came when unseeded Sergiy Stakhovsky knocked him out in the second round in 2013. He came back strong but to no avail. Novak Djokovic got the better of him in two consecutive finals. In 2017, he finally got there.
Federer beat Marin Cilic in the final to claim his eighth title at SW19. He became the oldest male player to win at Wimbledon in the Open Era in the process. Last year he bowed out in the quarter-final after an epic match against Kevin Anderson.
For the better part of the last 20 years, Federer has provided some unforgettable moments at Wimbledon. The graceful backhand, the accurate forehand, and that calm yet steely demeanour have together made history. Now aged 37, he’s not getting any younger.
As he enters the final stage of his career, Federer will love to get hands on that golden trophy yet again. It’s not a long shot by any means. But it’s not a near certainty like it used to be about a decade ago. Most people would think eight are enough, but Roger Federer is not like most people, is he?