Australian Open: What do the Trophies Mean for Federer and Serena?
2017’s Australian Open saw feats of tennis history: Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title and Roger Federer made one of the greatest comebacks, storming to victory in the men’s tournament after 7 years since his last Grand Slam win. The achievements of these two titans are elevated by both players being 35 years of age, 8 years older than the average professional tennis player. So, what does the outcome of this tournament mean for the two number 1s, will they be hanging up their rackets and sweat bands or has this successful start to the year made them hungry for more?
After 6 months out-of-play, due to a knee injury, and 2 gruelling 5-set matches before the final, Roger Federer’s victory was never the sure-fire outcome of this year’s Australian Open. However, the 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win against old rival Rafael Nadal reinforced the notion that Federer is the greatest tennis player ever. Before this match, Roger’s record 302 weeks as no, 1 and 17 previous Slam wins convinced many that the Swiss was the top-dog of all time, but this trophy, after such a long time out of play and out of the top-ten, has convinced all that he is worthy of the status of greatest ever.
We know that this Open has emblazoned Federer’s career in the history books but what does it mean for his future?
In a post-championship interview, Roger Federer said to the host ‘I hope to see you next year’, a dubiously optimistic phrase that along with his age suggests retirement could be on the cards. Later, Federer talked of how ‘the body is fragile right now’, implying that injury could force him off the court. If he did pack it in now I think fans would be disappointed but considering he earns upwards of $70 million a year, from prize money and sponsors, and has already been crowned the greatest ever, it’s only the love of the game keeping him on the court and wouldn’t he want to end that relationship on a high?
Over to the women’s tournament and Serena Williams’ 6-4, 6-4 win saw her receive her 23rd Grand Slam title. This trophy is significant for the 35-year-old American as it bumps her up to second place in the women’s league table for most Slam titles won, above the previous no. 2 Steffi Graf and only 1 title behind the no.1, Margaret Court.
In a post-match interview, unlike Federer, Serena showed no sign that this win meant retirement, stating ‘[no matter how many titles,] it’s never enough’. When asked if thought she was still in the prime of her career, Williams responded ‘Yes I do… I feel like I’ve really elevated my game somehow [coming] into this year’. This attitude certainly points towards her staying on the courts for at least a couple more years, I’m sure overtaking Margaret Court’s record of 24 titles will be in the forefront of her mind and being 65 weeks away from overtaking Steffi Graf’s record for total weeks at no.1, will also be strong motivation.
Both athletes were paired with personally significant opponents in their final matches, Federer fought old rival Nadal and the Williams sisters once again duelled. The Swiss no.1 talked of how he was happy with the drawing, as it was an opportunity to celebrate the sport they both love and the impact they have both had on each other’s careers. Similarly, Serena and Venus’ match brought the sister full-circle, as they had played each other in the second round of Serena’s first Australian Open victory, back in 1998.