When Roger Federer and his growing family embarked on a new tennis season in 2017 after his six-month injury layoff, the big goal was winning Wimbledon. He did it!
It has been that sort of tour-de-force season for Federer, the 35-year-old Swiss maestro who might not yet have regained the No. 1 ranking but is firmly atop the sport on every surface except clay.
On Sunday, he won his eighth Wimbledon singles championship and 19th Grand Slam singles title by defeating Marin Cilic in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. The victory, his first at Wimbledon since 2012, made Federer the oldest man to win at the All England Club in the Open era, which began in 1968.
It also broke Federer’s tie with William Renshaw and Pete Sampras, who each won Wimbledon seven times.
Mild-Mannered Marin Cilic Prepares to Take on a Juggernaut JULY 14, 2017
He also became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win Wimbledon without dropping a set.
“The tournament I played, not dropping a set, it’s magical really,” Federer said in the postmatch ceremony with the trophy back his hands.
Cilic, seeded No. 7, defeated Federer in right sets in the semifinals of the United States Open on his way to the title. He had three match points against Federer in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year before Federer prevailed in five sets.
A hard-fought, close match in this final would have been no surprise. Instead, it turned into a rout as Cilic struggled for consistency and with his emotions.
In the early stages of the third set, he showed flashes of the attacking baseline game that had carried him to the final. But Federer took control for good by breaking Cilic’s serve in the seventh game.
Federer, who did not lose his serve in the match, eventually closed out his eighth victory at Wimbledon with an ace.
He was soon in tears himself as he sat in his chair and looked in the direction of the players box where his twin daughters and twin sons were now standing next to his wife, Mirka, and the rest of his team.
He won his first Wimbledon singles title in 2003, sporting a scraggly beard and a ponytail. Fourteen years later, Federer, now the father of four young children, was clean-cut and clean shaven.
“I don’t remember what I did back in 2003, to be honest,” he says in his pre final routine. “The team was much smaller. I didn’t have kids running around, potentially waking me up at night. Today we’ve got to, like, close down the hinged doors, say, ‘Daddy is sleeping.’”
But neither right time nor late-night interruptions have yet blunted Federer’s power or dulled his skills. Improved and refreshed, he has earned five of the seven competitions he has performed this full season. Including both Grand Slam occasions where he has used part.
In January after surprising himself by winning the Australian Open up, he skipped the clay-court golf swing. He had time to prepare himself for grass and the major tournament that suits his game and improvisational ability best.
But to call this year’s Wimbledon a grass-court event is partly true. Hardly ever in its modern era gets the area across the Centre Courtroom baseline been more scuffed up for a men’s last.
On Saturday the court conditions resulted in several bad bounces. In the women’s final, won by Garbiñe Muguruza, 7-5, 6-0, over Venus Williams. At 37 she was trying to be the oldest women’s singles champion at Wimbledon in the present day era.
Federer fared better in his search. It’s been that type or kind of season, one for him and his nomadic family to take pleasure from.
“If you see others who are 35, 36, I think you can obviously see that the age is affecting them. However, not with him,” said Tomas Berdych, who lost to Federer in the semifinals. “You need to be a distinctive one for that.”
Read next: What NOT to do this hot summer