Roger Federer Wins 15th Grand Slam Title After Securing Wimbledon Championship

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 6, 2009

WIMBLEDON, England, July 5 -- This time a year ago, Roger Federer was reduced to tears after losing a heartrending Wimbledon final.

On Sunday, he was hailed by royalty and commoners alike for setting a new standard of excellence in tennis by prevailing in the longest Wimbledon final in history, turning back a dogged assault from American Andy Roddick to claim the 15th major title of his career -- one that breaks the record he shared with Pete Sampras.

With the 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 16-14 victory, Federer reclaimed the No. 1 world ranking he lost to Spain's Rafael Nadal last summer. He also won his sixth Wimbledon, the most storied of the four major titles that comprise the Grand Slam.

In doing so, Federer added one more exhibit to the already compelling case he is not only the best tennis player of his generation, but the best ever to play the game.

Looking on from the Royal Box, three of the men who warrant a place in that debate -- American Sampras, Australia's Rod Laver and Sweden's Bjorn Borg, with 16 Wimbledon titles among them -- rose in unison to pay tribute.

Even before the match, Borg anointed Federer the greatest of all time. Sampras added his voice afterward, "In my book, he is" the best.

If so, Federer, 27, is as humble a legend as the sports world is likely to see. Throughout his record 237 weeks atop the world ranking, Federer was unfailingly gracious to the media, granting interviews in five languages if asked.

Yet he does not seek the spotlight and can happily stroll streets of most U.S. cities without drawing notice. Little pleases him more than playing beautiful tennis and spending time with his wife, Mirka, whom he dated for 10 years before trading vows earlier this year.

And the closest he has come to showboating came after Sunday's triumph, when he donned a warmup jacket tailored for the occasion -- off-white, with "15" embroidered on the back in gold.

Tennis hardly suffers from a lack of stories about Federer's genius. Since he won his first major, at Wimbledon in 2003, journalists have exhausted the thesaurus searching for words that convey the grace with which Federer moves, the artistry of his strokes and the poise he exudes on court.

So on Sunday, it was hardly news Federer is the sport's most complete player. What was revelatory, however, was how much grit lurks inside the Swiss.

Like none before it, Sunday's Wimbledon final proved how tough Federer is and how hard he is willing to work for yet another accolade.

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