Tennis and golf. The two sports are played without a clock and both call their most significant accomplishments “Grand Slams.” Golf and tennis are related in other ways too — ask a person on the street to name two “country club” sports, and you’ll hear golf and tennis 90% of the time. The two sports are also widely understood to be activities one can, unlike perhaps basketball and soccer, play well into seniority — “sports for life” they’re are sometimes called, meaning you can play them as long as you can stand on your feet. The great Roger Federer has taken the latter concept and applied it to the pro game. Tennis has a history of player burnout at a young age — indeed Bjorn Borg, the player Federer just matched as the only other to win Wimbledon (1976) without dropping a set, retired at age 26. But Federer just breezed through (there’s no other way to say it) Wimbledon a few weeks from his 36th birthday — for his second Grand Slam title of the year.
Wimbledon 2017 is Federer’s 19th major overall, which puts him further out in front as the all-time men’s tennis leader. And it also pushes him past the major championship mark held by Jack Nicklaus in golf, a mark once thought to be under assault by Tiger Woods but which now seems safe. Nicklaus won his surprising 18th major at the hoary age of 46, a decade older than Federer is now, capturing the 1986 Masters six years after his last Slam win. Though golfers tend to have longer careers than tennis players, major success at later stages is to be elusive. Federer’s next target for a record will have to be in his own sport, as he chases Serena Williams‘s astonishing 23 Grand Slam titles.