He enjoyed one of tennis’ greatest careers, amassing titles at an astonishing rate and winning fans with his smooth style
Shortly after Pete Sampras departed the 2000 Wimbledon final as a 13-time grand slam champion, he was asked a simple question in his press conference: “Can you think of anybody beating the record?” At the time many people wondered the same thing as Sampras built a seemingly untouchable standing in the game. Now it seems laughable. Exactly a year later, that person toppled him on Centre Court.
So often in sport, the concept of a young upstart taking the baton from a veteran is more myth or narrative than reality, yet in Roger Federer’s case it was a defining moment in tennis history. He marked his arrival at the top of the sport by defeating Sampras, his idol, at 19 years old in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2001.