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Sports Then and Now



Roger Federer After Turning 30: Is There Another Slam Title in His Future? 4

Posted on February 08, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer turned 30 years of age in 2011.

Turning thirty can be traumatic for any normal human being.

Some stepping over that threshold suffer overwhelming angst, knowing that Bob Dylan once swore you could not trust anybody over thirty. Seriously—at one point in the recent past, Dylan was akin to God in certain circles, causing some recently turned thirty-somethings to weep copiously over lost youth, sensing all was lost.

On the other hand, Dylan is now over 65—so surely he has learned to trust himself despite living well beyond those prophetic 30 years.

For a tennis pro today, however, reaching thirty presents a true turning point—not simply a psychological marker. The legs grow heavier and the foot, a step slower. Unerring instinct now takes a second longer to kick into gear.

For most tennis players having played for over a decade brings steady decline if not resignation, ending in retirement. Time seemingly has expired requiring shelving or recycling for the majority.

That was not always the case in men’s professional tennis.  There were some notable exceptions from bygone days when tennis players were not millionaires and fame was hard to come by.

Think of Bill Tilden who played professional tennis well into his forties. During the 1920s we can safely attest, however, that the competition taking the court against Big Bill was hardly the same caliber as today’s players. Still, Tilden helped Americanize the game, altering its path from strenuous past time to highly competitive sport.

The great and enigmatic Pauncho Gonzalez seemed unbeatable in his thirties, playing top-notch tennis well into his forties. Consider, too, that Rod Laver won his second grand slam while age 31 in 1969—at the beginning of the Open Era in men’s tennis.

Other men have been successful, winning slams  after age 30 like Roy Emerson who won the 1967 French Open title or like John Newcombe who won the 1975 Australian Open having turned 30 years of age in 1974.  Renowned Arthur Ashe won his 1975 Wimbledon title at age 32.

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