It’s fitting that Roger Federer’s 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Andy Murray came on the stage of Wimbledon 2012. How else can tennis history crown the return of its beloved king? The coronation of a 17th title and No. 1 ranking could only occur on the royal lawns of Centre Court, where the eyes of the world witnessed its glory.
Roger Federer is the champion of tennis once again, and perhaps it has never been sweeter for him and his fans.
There was the Murray charge and first-set momentum to overcome. There was the third set epic 26-point game that endured almost 20 minutes. And there was a fabulous finish of tennis variety and heart to close out a historic Wimbledon win.
The following is a tribute to Federer for his character and poise that have endured following his 17th Grand Slam title.
The final section is words for Andy Murray only.
Grace Under Pressure
How did you do it, Roger? Yes, you just finished off another Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon against a tough, younger challenger when many had all but written you off of the Grand Slam pedestal. That’s indeed worthy of admiration and adulation.
But I’m asking you about the last 29 months. How did you keep your composure and your winning spirit despite the turbulence of time and change?
You see, legends are often revered for their amazing feats and dominance in winning. Certainly you have provided your fans with more of this than any other player in tennis history.
There’s something greater than that.
The most amazing part of your career has been your dignity and respect for the game. You refused to fade away in disgrace or to publicly bemoan your fate as an aging player.
Show me a legend who conducts his final years with as much grace and I will not believe it.
You did not quit or spiritually withdraw from tennis when you had more to give.
You did not buckle under the challenges of the next generation.
You did not throw your racket, scream profanities or make excuses to fans and media.
Instead, you chose to continue climbing the mountain, and to keep your eyes focused on the sun for as long as you could. You refused to relinquish your view of winning tennis glory at its highest peak, even in the face of disappointing defeats and setbacks.
Ernest Hemingway called this “Grace under pressure,” but you are its embodiment.
Crisis of Belief
Of course you had your doubts, Roger. You’ve watched Rafael Nadal roar back from a tough year to post an epic 2010 season. It seemed as if he could take over the record books.
You showed no venom when Novak Djokovic ruled 2011, even through a heartbreaking defeat at the U.S. Open. You picked up the pieces and continued the long trek back to No. 1.
Yes, your game is smarter with several ways to attack your opponents. Your versatility from baseline prowess to finishing winners is often set up with service placement, slices and drops. Most of all, Roger, you have evolved.
It was tough on you from 2006-2009 when Nadal defeated you. You were clearly discouraged at times, but ultimately rewarded with success in the 2009 French Open.
Now with Father Time demanding his obeisance and the spotlight seemingly shifted to the other two kings, you built an even greater sense of belief.
We saw your belief. It was in your countenance and comportment, head held high. You kept optimism’s flame alive and your supporters followed.
Nadal and Djokovic supporters kept their fear and respect, knowing you could rise up once more.
You built on your belief and you are now the victor.
Return of the King
Tennis is better than ever. Your career has laid the foundation for the sport’s evolution. Players are quicker, tougher and trained within the refiner’s fire. The demands of Grand Slam success require no less than the standard you set with your dramatic reign.
But beneath your success, the charming commercials and the poignant adversity, you have led life as a champion.
You have showed stability with your parents, wife and family. You have showed loyalty and goodwill to fans, many of which share a treasured anecdote about their opportunity to see you as a human being. You are a credit to all fanbases and a class example for tennis.
You deserve your seventh Wimbledon crown, Roger. Enjoy it, savor it and appreciate the journey that you traveled back to supreme prominence. You’ve earned it, and it’s never to be forgotten.
Whatever else is in store, you have performed countless virtuosos. This may be your finest hour.
Long live the King!
To Andy Murray
You nearly erased the name of Fred Perry, but not today. The scrutiny will continue, but you’ve heard it all before. It doesn’t matter.
This is a step forward. I’m not talking about moral victories, either. You’re probably angry and upset about losing. That’s the way it should be.
You’re not here for second place either. Good, glad to hear it.
I don’t need to tell you to try harder or train better. You know what it takes. All you have to do is look across the net today to see your example.
Go ahead and break a few more rackets on the way up. Shout or scream when necessary. Get feisty and angry if need be. Above all, be true to yourself whether in tennis or life.
I look forward to seeing you hoist up a Grand Slam trophy on your glorious day.