Facing off against your childhood idol and the best player in the
world in an event such as the Wimbledon can be an intimidating prospect for a teenager. But for
Roger Federer, it was the spark that ignited a career never before seen in the sport,
and perhaps never to be seen again in Wimbledon – tennis’ oldest and most prestigious

As a
19-year-old in 2001, ‘FedEx’ came up against Pete Sampras, a decade older and at the
peak of his powers – particularly in the Wimbledon, where he was a four-time
defending champion. However, the American great’s 31-game winning streak ended as
Federer announced himself to the world with a 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2/7),
7-5 win.

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described Federer as “a bit extra special” after that defeat, and the Swiss Maestro
went on to prove him right. Not immediately though, losing at the quarterfinals
that year, before crashing out of the first round a year later.

In the 2003
edition, Federer won his first-ever Grand Slam title, defeating Australian Mark
Philippoussis in straight sets for the first of his record eight Wimbledon
crowns. It was the start of an incredible run of five consecutive Championships,
a record he shares with Swedish great Bjorn Borg.

In 2004, Federer
defeated American Andy Roddick in straight sets, as he started an incredible
streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, out of which he reached 19
finals and won 14 titles. He defeated Roddick again in the 2005 final, before
defeating ‘Big Three’ rival Rafael Nadal in the next two finals.

The pair
met again in the 2008 final, which went to rival the legendary 1980 final between
Borg and John McEnroe as one of the greatest Championships encounters of all
time. Nadal, who critics said could never emulate his clay supremacy on grass, resisted
a late Federer comeback to win his first Wimbledon title by an epic 6-4, 6-4,
6-7 (5/7), 6-7 (8/10), 9-7 margin.

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Federer won
his sixth title in 2009, defeating Roddick in a repeat of the 2004 and 2005
finals, before crashing out of the next two editions in the quarter-finals. Defeating
local hope Andy Murray in the 2012 final brought him his seventh Wimbledon
crown, before multiple injuries started taking their toll on the Swiss.

His next
title, an unprecedented eighth, came in 2017 when he roared back from his
setbacks to defeat Croatian Marin Cilic. He also became only the second player in
the Open Era to win a Wimbledon without dropping a set, after Bjorn Borg in 1976.
This was also the second Grand Slam he won without losing a set, after the 2007 Australian Open.

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With his 40th
birthday fast approaching, it’s not a secret that Federer is a shadow of his
former self. Injuries have blighted him, as he had to pull out of the 2021
French Open due to knee problems. But Federer is eyeing a 21st Grand
Slam and ninth Wimbledon title, and he may just have a few tricks left up his
sleeve to help him achieve the feat and further cement his godly status in tennis.