Roger Federer recalls the time he beat the legendary Pete Sampras, whose record he surpassed on Sunday, in 2011 at Wimbledon. At the time he was just 19 years old and wore his hair in a pony and showed away his anger – as any teenage tennis player would. But move to 2017, he’s married to two sets of twins and the anger on court have subside. He won his eighth Wimbledon title on Sunday but by his own admission, he didn’t think he would become this successful at the All England Club.
“I didn’t think I was going to be this successful after beating Pete here,” said Federer who also won a fifth Australian Open in January. “I hoped to have a chance maybe one day to be in a Wimbledon final and have a chance to win the tournament. Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for. If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of three on, who think you’re like a project. I was not that kid.”
Federer had announced himself on the world stage with that Sampras win in 2011 but won his first Grand Slam two years later. Now, 14 years later, he has accumulated a staggering 19 Grand Slam titles to move four clear of closest rival Rafa Nadal and stand joint-fourth in all-time list man or woman.
Many had written off Federer and expected him to retire at the end of last season where he lost in the Wimbledon semi-finals and then took six months off to rest an ailing knee. But he vowed to return and he has returned strongly to win Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Halle and now Wimbledon. “I’m incredibly surprised how well this year is going, how well I’m feeling, how I’m managing tougher situations, where my level of play is on a daily basis,” added Federer. “I am surprised that it’s this good. I knew I could do great again maybe one day, but not at this level. So I guess you would have laughed, too, if I told you I was going to win two slams this year. People wouldn’t believe me if I said that. I also didn’t believe that I was going to win two this year.” Federer has won the most titles on the men’s tour this year following his Wimbledon triumph.
He also clarified on the on-court comments that he would definitely be back to defend his title at Wimbledon in 2018. “Honestly, ever since I had the year I had last year, I think a year ahead of time, you know, with my schedule, fitness schedule, tournaments I would like to play.”
“So I totally see myself playing here this time next year. There’s never a guarantee, especially not at 35, 36. But the goal is definitely to be here again next year to try and defend.”