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Sunday, 16 July 2017 09:00 AM BST
Federer's seven Wimbledon titles
From throwing the kitchen sink at Andy Roddick to receiving a hug from Bjorn Borg, we take a look at Federer down the years READ MORE

With Federer seeking to become the first man to win eight singles titles at the All England Club, we look back at his first seven.

The future 

"Unbalanced and one-dimensional," they wrote. In the second week of that summer's Championships, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova were among the former champions who sent an open letter to the International Tennis Federation, calling on the governing body to save the sport. The answer, McEnroe and others ventured, was to reduce the size of the racket-heads, banning the oversized frames. Anything to stop the baseline biffers and bashers from ripping all the art out of the sport.

What the signatories hadn't foreseen was that the Age of Federer, a golden time for tennis aesthetes, would soon be upon us, with the 21-year-old defeating Australia's Mark Philippoussis in straight sets to take his first Wimbledon, as well as his first major. "The future has come today," Becker said from the BBC commentary box. A couple of days later, Federer appeared at a clay court tournament in Gstaad, where he was presented with a cow called Juliette. What people might not remember about Federer's first Wimbledon title was that he very nearly didn't make it beyond the fourth round as his back went into spasm when playing Spain's Feliciano Lopez: "I was really in big pain, struggling to serve and return, I couldn't even sit down. Somehow I won the match and it got better."

The kitchen sink


"I threw the kitchen sink at Roger, but he went to the bathroom and got the tub," Andy Roddick said. If the American had the best one-liner of the afternoon - and of The Championships - Federer produced the classiest lawn tennis as he came from a set down to win a final interrupted by rain.


Flawless tennis

The Centre Court regulars used to say that Pete Sampras' performance against Andre Agassi in 1999 was the closest that any player had come to grass court perfection in a Wimbledon final. But that was until Federer defeated Roddick in straight sets for his third successive Wimbledon title. In Federer's own analysis, this was "probably the best match I have played in my career". "I was playing flawless tennis. Everything was working well. I think it will take a while for me to realise what I have achieved here, possibly days, weeks or even months. It didn't really feel like I was playing. It was a strange feeling on the court."


Overcoming doubts

In the early stages of that summer's Wimbledon Fortnight, Federer had been doubting himself, and there were also some moments of tension in the final against Rafael Nadal. But Federer dealt with that angst, as well as Nadal's devilish forehands, to win in four sets and experience the "fantastic feeling" of winning Wimbledon for the fourth summer in succession.


Tears and Borg

Bjorn Borg, in winning five consecutive Wimbledon titles from 1976-80, was the great emotional flatliner of Centre Court. Just as his superstitions didn't change - no sex, no shaving all Wimbledon Fortnight - there was also no shift in his facial expression (more of a void than an expression, actually). But if Borg never showed any joy or distress on the lawns, he could make others weep, with his presence in the Royal Box contributing to Federer's emotional state after the Swiss, a five-set winner over Nadal, emulated the Swede by taking a fifth consecutive Wimbledon prize. At the moment of victory, Federer fell backwards and almost before he hit the grass, he was in tears. Backstage after the trophy ceremony, there was a touching moment when Borg enveloped Federer in "a Swedish hug".


The title regained

Still feeling raw a few days after the final, Andy Roddick opened the front door of his home in America to be confronted by his postman's theories on why the American had lost - he hadn't changed his sweat-soaked shirts nearly enough, with the heavy clothes weighing him down. What Roddick's postman was ignoring was Federer's extraordinary resolve.

Measured in games, this was the longest men's final in Wimbledon's history and Federer only broke Roddick's serve once, in the 77th and final game. "I had a feeling we would be there all summer long, that they would close the roof, people would sleep all night and wake up, and Andy and I would still be there, beards growing, holding serve," said Federer, whose prize for taking the fifth set 16-14 was to become the first man to win 15 Grand Slam singles titles. Pete Sampras, who won 14 majors, had flown in from Los Angeles on the red-eye to watch himself be eclipsed by his friend: "Roger is a legend, a stud and an icon."

What a summer for Federer, who had lost his Wimbledon title to Nadal in the classic 2008 final. Just a month before the 2009 Wimbledon final, he had won Roland Garros for the first time to complete the career Grand Slam and, days after Wimbledon, he became a father for the first time when his wife Mirka gave birth to twin girls.


Grass court king

Probably only Federer could make Andy Murray cry on Centre Court, as he did by beating the Briton in this final, without damaging his standing with the British public. Federer dropped the opening set, but he was the better player after the rains came and the roof was closed over Centre Court. It was Federer's first Grand Slam for two and a half years, going back to the 2010 Australian Open. As Paul Annacone, Federer's coach at the time, noted: "I had tried not to listen to all those people who had been writing Roger off." With his seventh Wimbledon title, Federer put himself level with Sampras and Williams Renshaw, the grass court king of the nineteenth century.

Mark Hodgkinson is the author of 'Fedegraphica: A Graphic Biography of the Genius of Roger Federer' (Aurum).

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