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Roger Federer and Serena Williams prove age is no barrier

Success at Wimbledon for pair shows that careers do not have to go into decline after reaching 30.
Serena Williams, left, and Roger Federer were the 2012 Wimbledon winners. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
Serena Williams, left, and Roger Federer were the 2012 Wimbledon winners. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the first 30-somethings to win at the same grand slam since Arthur Ashes and Billie Jean King's triumph at the 1975 Wimbledon.

In the Open era, this has happened only once before – at Wimbledon again in 1969 when Rod Laver and Ann Jones emerged champions.

Serena was 30 years and 285 days on Saturday when she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska for her fifth Wimbledon crown and 14th grand slam.

Federer, who will be 31 on August 8, won a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon title on Sunday, taking his tally of slams to 17.

The Swiss also returns to the top of the ATP rankings for the first time since June, 2010, equalling Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.

The triumph of those two ageing maestros only confirms a changing trend in tennis; the top players are getting older and days of the days of child stars like Tracy Austin, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis coming up seems to be in the past.

The last teenager to triumph in a grand slam was Maria Sharapova, when she clinched the 2006 Australian Open crown as a 19 year old.

Martina Navratilova reckoned the younger players - surrounded by their entourage of families and coaches – are taking longer to mature "because they don't have to fend for themselves".

"It'll level off somewhere," Navratilova said. "I don't think you'll see people win slams at 35, but 30 is not the cut-off point that it used to be."

In the case of Federer and Serena, though, even the age of 35 cannot be a safe prediction.

Two years ago, people had already written the Swiss off, but he has just given a powerful reminder that he can still hold his own in the age of Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

"I knew how close I was the last few years and some people didn't quite see that," Federer said. "But I knew and I think the belief got me to victory."

That belief could see Federer and Serena add more grand slam glory to their names, and age will certainly not be a bar.

Navratilova triumphed at Wimbledon as a 33 year old while Ken Rosewall was 37 when he clinched his final Australian Open crown in 1972.


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Updated: July 9, 2012 04:00 AM