Darren Walton July 10, 2012
Is Roger Federer the greatest sportsperson of all time. Or do you think there is someone even better?
Roger Federer is being hailed as possibly the greatest athlete in sports history after his spectacular return to the summit of tennis with a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon crown.
Federer's spellbinding 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over home hope Andy Murray not only ended all arguments over his status as tennis' undisputed king, but also sparked fresh debate about his place in the pantheon of sport's all-time greats.
Competing in the fierce era of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and with his younger rivals at the peak of their powers, Federer's unmatched 17th career major and return to the No.1 ranking one month shy of his 31st birthday is the strawberries and cream on top of an already unparalleled career.
Murray declared the Swiss maestro deserved to now rank alongside the Peles and Muhammad Alis as ''one of the greatest athletes of all time''.
''He's up there. Rafa as well, for me, is up there in that conversation,'' the vanquished Scot said after having his - and Britain's - hopes shattered with a vintage showing from the grasscourt colossus.
''Both of them have been unbelievable athletes. They've been great for the sport - and he's still playing amazing tennis.
''A lot of people have been asking me 'has he started slipping? Is he not playing as well?'
''If you look at the matches he lost the last couple years, very, very close matches, matches he definitely could have won. He could be sitting on 20 grand slams if one point or a couple inches here or there [had gone his way].''
In the most global of mainstream individual sports, Federer is now three clear of Pete Sampras on the men's all-time grand slam title leaderboard and one behind Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors in golf.
Federer, a four-times Laureus World Sports Star of the Year, was humbled by the comparisons.
''It's nice to be compared to other sporting greats,'' he said. ''If I can help the game of tennis with the image or with making it more popular, that's enough for me really.
''I want to leave the game better off than when I came into this great game … but I drew a lot of inspirations from other great athletes in other sports. I think like Pete [Sampras] and [Stefan] Edberg and [Boris] Becker, I don't know, maybe [Michael] Jordan, Tiger Woods, you name it, Valentino Rossi, they inspire me to keep on pushing further.
''Not just being happy with world No.1 or being happy with a grand slam title, but maybe to reach for more.''
In addition to his 17 titles from an unrivalled 24 grand slam finals, Federer has racked up numbers that will likely never be surpassed.
His record 33 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals - and 30 semis out of the past 33 - may well stand the test of time.
Federer credits the birth of his twin daughters, who turn three this month, for ''playing some of the best tennis of my life right now'' and vows to continue for years to come. Too young to see his last grand slam final triumph in Melbourne in 2010, toddlers Charlene Riva and Myla Rose were in the centre-court stands as Federer matched Sampras' magnificent seven on London's hallowed lawns.
''Obviously that's a dream come true,'' Federer said. ''It's the best. It's a magical moment for me.''
Federer, who equals Sampras' record 286-week reign as world No.1 this week and will break it next week, said it almost felt like his destiny to match his idol's milestone at tennis's spiritual home.
''It's very unique and special in many ways this tournament,'' he said.
''From the get-go I really felt sort of I'm supposed to play well here. It's special.'' AAP