Federer, Ashe, Laver: Wimbledon’s Oldest Men’s Champions

In videos | As we move into this year’s Wimbledon, here’s a look at the oldest men’s champions in the open era.

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Tennis
4 min read
File photo of Arthur Ashe, Roger Federer and Rod Laver. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Reuters/Altered by Rhythum Seth)

(This article is being republished after Roger Federer won the 2017 Wimbledon Men’s title just days short of his 36th birthday. He is now the oldest man to claim the title in the professional era. Below is a story on some of the other 30 plus players who won the title at SW19)

One of the most interesting aspects about this year’s Wimbledon is that the top five players going into the tournament are all aged 30 and above.

Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Stanislas Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who have ruled the tennis world for almost 15 years, are aged 30, 31, 32, 30 and 35 respectively.

If Wawrinka or Federer go on to win the Championships, then one of them will beat Arthur Ashe’s record of being the oldest men’s singles Wimbledon champion in the open era.

Arthur Ashe won the Wimbledon title in 1975 when he was 31 years, 11 months and 25 days old.

As we move into this year’s Wimbledon, here’s a look at the oldest men’s singles champions in the open era. The tournament begins on 3 July.

1. Arthur Ashe – 1975

The Wimbledon final in 1975 wasn’t just about two Americans fighting for the title.

Before Wimbledon began that year, Arthur Ashe had questioned Jimmy Connors’ interest in international competitions such as Davis Cup and had called him unpatriotic. Connors’ manager Bill Riordan then filed a defamation case against Ashe.

However, when the duo met at the court for the final – Ashe, who was 9 years older than Connors, took control of most of the proceedings.

Ashe, who was an attacking player, had a wise plan to take the pace off the ball in the final and it worked wonders for him.

Ashe defeated the defending champion 6-1, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 and clinched his first Wimbledon title.

I had the strangest feeling that I couldn’t lose.
Arthur Ashe

2. Roger Federer – 2012

Federer had played out over two years without winning a Grand Slam when he entered the 2012 Wimbledon tournament. And it had to be Wimbledon which would be the saving grace for him.

Many tennis fans felt that Federer was seeing the end of his career and that he would never win a Grand Slam again. However, Federer had other ideas.

He went past Novak Djokovic, who was rising to his prime at that time, with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory and then he beat the homeboy Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

Federer, who won the tournament aged 30 years and 11 months, became the first player to play 8 Wimbledon singles finals.

3. Rod Laver – 1969

Rod Laver still holds the record of being the only player in the open era to win all four Grand Slams in a calendar year. And that calendar year was 1969 – therefore the Wimbledon victory in that year will always be a special one.

Novak Djokovic achieved the feat of holding all four Grand Slams at the same time, when he clinched the 2016 French Open, but he won four slams in a row across two years.

Laver, who was the number one seed in the 1969 Wimbledon tournament, beat Australia’s John Newcombe 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.

Rod Laver, who was aged 30 years, 10 months and 26 days defended the Wimbledon title he won in 1968, aged 29 years, 10 months and 27 days.

Laver is the third and fourth most oldest men’s singles Wimbledon champion.

4. Jimmy Connors – 1982

Jimmy Connors played out a gruelling five-setter in the final against fellow American John McEnroe in 1982 and clinched the second and final Wimbledon title of his career.

After losing two Wimbledon finals to Bjorn Borg in 1977 and 1978, Connors managed to beat Borg’s nemesis in a 4-hour 14-minute match, which was Wimbledon’s longest men’s singles final at that time.

Connors, who was seeded second, took the Wimbledon title away from McEnroe with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory.

He was aged 29 years, 10 months and 2 days.

5. Goran Ivanisevic – 2001

Goran Ivanisevic winning the 2001 Wimbledon title has to be one of the greatest stories in the history of tennis.

The Croatian had won just nine matches that year before the tournament and was ranked 125 in the world. He was given a wild card entry as he had made three Wimbledon finals prior to 2001.

Ivanisevic lost to Andre Agassi in 1992 and Pete Sampras in 1994 and 1998 Wimbledon finals. Before 2001, he was given the tag – “the most talented player never to have won Wimbledon".

But in 2001, nobody could come in his way of completing the dream.

Ivanisevic beat Britain’s Tim Henman 7-5, 6-7, 0-6, 7-6, 6-3 in the semi-final and then triumphed over Australia’s Patrick Rafter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 in the final.

The Croatian was aged 29 years, 9 months and 26 days.

Nobody believed I could do it, even I didn’t believe. I was just happy to get the wild card, to be back at Wimbledon. I was not expecting much, just that I didn’t want to do too badly.
Goran Ivanisevic

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