You Just Can’t Buy Experience

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By: Grant Fisken

On the sixth of July 2003 two 21-year-olds by the name of Serena Williams and Roger Federer showed off their respective singles trophies at the Wimbledon Champions Ball. At the time Martina Hingis, a year older at 22, was less than 12 months into her injury-enforced break from the sport. Twelve years on, and who could have predicted those three players would still be having such a major impact on the final weekend of a Wimbledon fortnight.

In 2003 Williams was winning her second consecutive Wimbledon final, both against sister Venus. On Saturday she took that tally to six by beating Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 in the final, and became the oldest grand slam singles winner in the Open era, at the age of 33 years and 288 days. The “Serena Slam” is also complete for the second time, as she is now the holder of the US Open, Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles, a feat she also achieved across 2002 and 2003.

Williams will now head to Flushing Meadows to try and defend her US Open title and do something she has never even done, the calendar year grand slam. Only Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) have won all four grand slams in a single year. If Williams can emulate them in New York in September she will also equal Graf’s record of 22 grand slam singles titles in the Open era.

As Williams was winning her second Wimbledon title 12 years ago, Federer was winning his first by despatching Mark Philippoussis in straights sets. On Sunday, Novak Djokovic prevented him from a record-breaking eighth SW19 triumph for the second consecutive year. The Swiss player has been written off on numerous occasions in recent times, like Williams, but at this tournament he has proved to still being capable of playing some of the best tennis of his career. His exhibition of serving against Andy Murray in the semifinal was too hot for one of the best returners in the game to handle, and although he could not repeat that in the final, his imperious one-handed backhand was still in full flow.

If the last two weeks have taught us anything about Williams and Federer, it should be to stop predicting their demise, and just enjoying two legends of their sport continuing to play incredible tennis. In 2016 you can be sure the two will be back as 34-year-olds, with Federer in particular looking to overcome his recent Serbian grass nemesis.

One Swiss player who did leave this year’s Wimbledon with silver ware was Martina Hingis, already at the age of 34. An incredible 17 years after her most recent SW19 success, a doubles win with Jana Novotna, she teamed up with Sania Mirza and Leander Paes (age 42) to win both the women’s and mixed doubles respectively. For all the excitement and flair produced from the innocence of youth on the tennis circuit, Wimbledon 2015 has proved you just can’t buy experience.