Few moments are as significant as a young star’s first Grand Slam title, let alone winning Wimbledon. If every young athlete dreams of competing at the Olympics, every young tennis player dreams of winning Wimbledon. Though Federer had stunned crowds in 2001 with the defeat of Sampras, it wasn’t until this victory that he cemented his greatness, having spent two years fine-tuning his craft. Besting Mark Philippoussis in the final, Federer held the trophy aloft and a legend was made.
No. 1 Ranking, 2004
Though some can only dream of being the best in the world, even fewer will achieve it (and maintain the position). If ever there was a dispute about Federer’s greatness, you need only consider that in 2004 with his victory at the Australian Open after defeating Marat Safin, Federer secured the No.1 ranking for the first time in his career. He remained there for a record-breaking 237 consecutive weeks and in his career, has spent a staggering 310 weeks in the spot.
His coming-of-age victory against Pete Sampras, 2001
Everyone loves an underdog story, and Federer’s match-up with Pete Sampras in 2001 had all the trappings of a classic story. Then, Sampras was one of the greatest players in history, taking on a young, but nevertheless, talented star. Having dominated the court, many thought Sampras would claim an easy victory but Federer proved the fighter he is on court, clinching the win with 7-5 in the fifth set. In many ways, this was a passing of the baton as Federer looked to his idol and began his own promising career.
Fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, 2007
As a spectator, you can never guarantee who you’ll see in the final of any tournament but when names like Federer and Nadal enter the arena, you are certain to see a passionate display of athleticism and skill. It was a nail-biter - these matches always are between the pair - but in clinching victory, Federer won Wimbledon in 2007 to join Bjorn Borg as the only player in the Open Era to win the All England Club in five straight years.
Wimbledon loss to Rafael Nadal, 2008
Sport isn’t just about the highs, it’s also about the lows and how you handle them and when you look to any time Federer has lost, you see not only his vulnerability and deep emotion, but also his class and the respect he has towards his opponents. This match will go down as one of the greatest in tennis history, with the pair facing off in incredible fashion. Federer was ever the fighter, crawling out of a two-set deficit after winning the third and fourth sets in tiebreak fashion. Sadly, Nadal ended up taking the fifth set 9-7.
French Open title at Roland Garros, 2009
Roland Garros is Nadal’s domain, everyone else is just there for the ride. Having been beaten by the Spaniard in the French Open semifinals in 2005, then the finals in 2006, 2007 and 2008, Federer finally caught a break in 2009 when Nadal went out early to Robin Soderling in the fourth round - his first ever loss at the French Open. In the final, Federer and Soderling faced off in a gripping four sets which saw Federer claim his first French Open title, giving him his 14th major title in his career.
World-breaking 15th major at Wimbledon, 2009
2009 was an impressive year for Federer, but few matches will top this one. Just weeks after his Roland Garros victory, he then held up the trophy at Wimbledon after beating Andy Roddick in what will go down as one of the greatest matches of all time, and the one where Federer was truly tested. Roddick put up an incredible fight, and Federer only nabbed victory in the fifth set, 16-14. It saw him pass Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major titles as he held up his 15th Grand Slam singles win.
Return to World No.1, 2012
Though Federer has dominated the sport of tennis for much of his career, he’s also had to contend with the likes of Djokovic and Nadal. He relinquished his position atop the leaderboard in 2010 when Nadal took the French Open title, with Federer being just one week short of Sampras’ record of 286 weeks spent at the top of the rankings. But from 2011, he went on to win seven titles from September to May, capping off with his 17th major title at Wimbledon. His first Grand Slam win in more than two years saw Federer return to the world No.1 spot.