A tweet from former British tennis player, a little known Jade Windley, best summarised Roger Federer’s age-defying feat that gave the world of sport a strong retro feel.
“2004 ... I turned 14, Friends ended, Facebook was launched and a certain Roger Federer became world No. 1 for the first time. Now, I’m turning 28, still love watching Friends, Facebook is still going strong but not as strong as Roger Federer ... world no1 #inspiration,” Jade wrote.
By storming into the semi-finals of the Rotterdam event, the 36-year-old Federer on Friday became the oldest world No.1 in tennis. He surpassed American Andre Agassi who was 33 when he scaled the summit in 2003. And Serena Williams was 35 when she was most recently ranked No.1 last year.
Like a fine wine, Federer has been getting better with age. His storied career has reinvigorated since taking six months off in 2016 and he has won three of the last five grand slams including this year's Australian Open.
“Apparently I’m the oldest tennis player with a No.1 ranking. Somebody might have mentioned that to me already but I had a hard time hearing,” Federer said in a lighter vein.
India’s first grand slam champion Mahesh Bhupathi said it was yet “another outrageous achievement” by Federer. “Back at number 1 at 36 years young after skipping the entire clay court season. Hard to either compare or put that into perspective . Truly Incredible ..#standingovation,” he tweeted.
Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj said Federer’s desire was amazing to see. “When I saw Roger play in the Australia Open, his desire was amazing to see. It felt like he was a junior again. He was playing with a new racquet and started moving forward on the backhand. When I saw that, I felt this guy was tuned up,” he added.
Federer also set another record with the more than five-year gap between his previous and most recent stints as world number one being the longest since ATP rankings began in 1973. Incredibly Federer first reached number one in 2004, as a 22-year-old, and having now returned there 14 years later playing some of the best tennis of his career, he looks capable of another lengthy stretch on the throne. He already holds the record of 302 weeks ranked number one. Those who were part of the top 10 list when Federer first became world No.1 have all retired!