WIMBLEDON, England — Roger Federer hoisted the trophy and celebrated making Grand Slam history, a year removed from an epic five-set final when he left Wimbledon a broken man, his title ripped away and his aura of invincibility shattered.
Federer waged another five-set marathon Sunday, and left as the holder of the most prestigious record in tennis. This time, the winner’s trophy belonged to him, with the No. 1 ranking in his grasp again and his reputation enhanced as perhaps the greatest player in history.
Federer won his record 15th Grand Slam title, outlasting Andy Roddick for his sixth Wimbledon championship in match that went to 30 games in the final set.
Federer served a career-high 50 aces and overcame the resilient American 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14 to break the record of major titles he shared with Pete Sampras.
“I’m happy I broke the record here because this is always the tournament that meant the most to me,” Federer said. “It definitely feels like coming full circle, starting it here and ending it here.”
A day earlier, Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic captured their second consecutive doubles title at Wimbledon, defeating rival American twins Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (7), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-3.
The men’s singles match finally ended after four hours 16 minutes when Federer broke for the first time all day, with Roddick missing on a forehand.
Federer jumped high in celebration, punched the air and whacked the net with his racket. Roddick tossed his racket to the side and the two men shared a hug at the net. Federer kissed the trophy and brought it close to his chest.
Watching from the front row of the Royal Box was Sampras, a seven-time Wimbledon champion who flew in from California, his first appearance at the All England Club since playing this tournament for the last time in 2002. Also on hand were Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.
“It’s not really one of those goals you set as a little boy, but man, it’s been quite a career and quite a month,” said Federer, who saved four set points in the second-set tiebreaker to avoid falling behind 2-0 in sets. “It feels amazing, but this is not why I’m playing tennis to break all sort of different records. But it’s definitely one of the greatest ones to have.”
Turning to Sampras, Federer said: “Thanks very much for coming. I know it’s a long way, but you’re a member, man, we like to see you here. It’s such a pleasure to play in front of such greats legends.”
Roddick said: “Sorry Pete, I tried to hold him off.”
The historic impact of the match hit home when Sampras arrived after the third game of the first set. Accompanied by his wife, Bridgette Wilson, he sat next to Spanish great Manolo Santana and a few seats from Laver and Borg. He wore sunglasses, a grey suit and light blue shirt and tie.
“In a way, I still feel like we share (the record) because he was such a wonderful champion,” Federer said, referring to Sampras.
“He still has one up against me here at Wimbledon. It’s nice that he shows appreciation for what I’m doing.”
Federer is the third player to win six Wimbledon championships — Sampras and William Renshaw each won seven.
Sampras considers Federer the greatest ever.
“I have to give it to him,” he said. “The critics say Laver, and (Rafael) Nadal has beaten him a few times at majors. He’s won all the majors, he’s won 15 now, he’s going to win a few more here. So in my book he is.”
Federer reclaimed the No. 1 ranking he lost last year to Nadal, the Spaniard who beat him in the classic 2008 final that finished in near darkness at 9-7 in the fifth but missed this year’s tournament because of knee problems.
“I’m aware that Rafa didn’t play here,” Federer said. “Injuries are part of the game, unfortunately, but I’m happy I became No. 1 in the world by winning this title because this is the biggest one there is out there. I love playing here.”
Federer is third player in history to win six Wimbledon championships — Sampras and William Renshaw each won seven.
It was the longest men’s Grand Slam final in history at 77 games — breaking the previous record of 71 from 1927 in Australia. It was also the longest fifth set in a men’s Grand Slam final in history, surpassing the 20 games from 1927 in France.