With 20 Grand Slams to his name, Roger Federer is one of the most successful athletes in the history of men’s tennis. The Basel, Switzerland native’s career would go down in history if it ended tomorrow, but he appears hell-bent on bolstering his legacy.
Heading into Wimbledon 2019, Federer may very well reach his 21st Grand Slam title. The 37-year-old shows no sign that he is ready to give up as he heads into the semi-final match against Rafael Nadal.
The early years
In 1998, a 17-year-old Federer won the Wimbledon junior championship. Then, in 1999, he became the youngest tennis player to land among the top 100 players in the world (No. 64 at age 18). Fans already recognized his talent, but Federer really turned heads when he defeated superstar Pete Sampras at Wimbledon 2001 (he eventually lost in the quarterfinals.)
King Roger, as some called him, became a Grand Slam champion in 2003 after defeating Andy Roddick and Mark Philippoussis en route to a Wimbledon win. From there, a star was born. Federer became a perennial favorite, winning Grand Slam titles every year.
Struggles and resurgence
By 2010, a 28-year-old Federer had 16 Grand Slam Titles and was on pace to win many more. Then, his career hit a lull. Federer struggled to consistently hold the titles as he did in earlier years. Between 2010 and 2017, the Swiss star only won one Grand Slam at Wimbledon 2012.
Federer experienced a renaissance in 2017. After battling injuries for years — including a knee surgery after hurting himself while running a bath for his twin daughters — fans noticed he looked nearly as healthy as he did earlier in his career.
The result: a pair of wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017. Then, in 2018, he won his 20th and last Grand Slam title to date.
The other man
Besides Venus and Serena Williams, there are perhaps no two names in tennis as connected as Federer and Nadal. Since 2004, they have competed against one another 39 times (as of publication). The Swiss athlete trails the Spaniard 15-24.
Their most recent battle occurred at the 2019 French Open, a match Nadal won en route to the final. With 18 Grand Slam titles, Nadal uses his opponent’s achievements as a benchmark for his own. Both athletes have struggled with injuries. As they return to form, the duo’s rivalry perseveres on their mutual respect and competitive drive.
At Wimbledon 2019, Federer hopes to get his 21st Grand Slam title. If King Roger proves to be the champion, his legacy will only grow.