The grass-court season is ongoing in full fledge with the most prestigious Grand Slam being played out at the All England Club. The Championships, Wimbledon with its strict all-white dress code for the competitors to the culture of slurping down strawberry and cream and occasional gracing of the Royalty every now and then, is undoubtedly the Slam that matters the most. This year, we have the Swiss Great, Roger Federer, at 34 and Venus Williams, at 36 being the oldest competitors in the Slam. Federer, as we know is bidding for a record 8th win, here on his favourite surface.
With top-seed and double defending champion, Novak Djokovic, being shown the door in the 4th Round and Rafael Nadal opting out of the tournament, the path seems almost hindrance-free for Roger. Venus, too is in great form and her lithe abilities powered her into the semi-finals of the Big W, for a record ninth time but sadly she won’t be playing her sister, Serena, in the final.
With two such greats having the vigour to continue participating and qualifying for quarters and semi-finals at such an age where their form should be dropping and their plans should revolve around retirement instead of ways to improve their game, is really incredible. Roger Federer proudly comments , “Like I say so many times, I hope I’m still on tour for a while. There are no plans to retire yet, I don’t have a definite date, even though that would make things easier to plan.”, when probed about his desire to retire. To these greats, age isn’t a bothering factor.
If we leaf through the pages of Wimbledon history, we’ll come across several winners of the singles who are treading in their early thirties.
5. Billie Jean King – 31 years old
Billie Jean King, with a staggering win of 39 Grand Slam titles, has 12 Singles, 16 Women’s Doubles and 11 Mixed Doubles titles to her name. In the year 1975, she overwhelmed an amateurish Aussie Evonne Goolagong in a final with 6-0, 6-1 match statistics and went on to possess the 6th Wimbledon Venus Rosewater Dish. King was 31 years 7 months when she achieved this feat.
The American is a star player and the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association ( WTA ) along with her husband. The USTA National Tennis Center in New York City was renamed in her honour as USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center . Having a philosophy of, “Champions keep playing until they get it right”, this woman is someone who caters to Serena’s source of inspiration and is an eminent persona of the women’s tennis fraternity.