In a social media video posted on Thursday, Pete Sampras, the 14-time Grand Slam champion whose Wimbledon reign was ended by Roger Federer in 2001, paid tribute to the Swiss great.
Federer, the winner of 20 Grand Slam titles and one of the greatest players of all time, will make his final appearance at the Laver Cup in London on Friday before retiring.
When I first met you, you were 19 years old, a rising star, and everyone was talking about you.
“And we had a fantastic battle on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.” And you brought me down.
“Tough five-setter,” Sampras said of his previous four Wimbledon titles, which brought his total to seven. “And I remember walking off the court feeling like I had met my match.”
Before retiring, Sampras won one more Grand Slam title, the US Open in 2002. He watched Federer’s career blossom over the next two decades.
“Little did I know that 20 years later, you’d have 20 majors, be number one for years, dominate our sport – basically do it all,” Sampras said of Federer, whom he described as “truly a special player.”
Federer’s dedication was lauded by Sampras, who said his famously fluid game disguised the rigorous work that produced it.
“You’ll be missed in our game,” Sampras said.