Torchbearers of the 30+ brigade
Tennis is often termed as a youngster’s game but there are a few men and women who just seem to get better with each passing year.
Do not go gentle into the good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Dylan Thomas
Tennis as a sport has been undergoing some radical transformation over the last two decades or so. In 1992, the average age of the Top 10 men’s players was 23.2 years, which rose to 24.5 years in 2002, and is now 28.6 in 2015. Likewise for women, the numbers stand at 21.7 years, 22 and 25.9 years. These figures shed light on a clear trend which has been shaping up for quite some time now. Today, the players who are doing better than their counterparts are most often players who have already crossed the 30-year milestone. So here’s a list of players over the age of 30 who still continue to make the biggest ripples on the tennis circuit.
Easily one of the best players to grace the professional tennis circuit, Serena Williams is already 34 years old, but shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The way she has been playing with her powerful and imposing style has been hard to better for her opponents. This is evident from the fact that she has a 53-3 win-loss record in 2015. Serena is the only woman to win the Career Golden Slam in singles after the age of 30, and has also won 8 grand slams since crossing the third decade milestone. The dominating player flits into our list of amazing players over the age of 30 with ease.
If the word ‘longevity’ has to be described as a person, the name Leander Paes comes to mind. The legend from India crossed 30 more than decade ago and is still playing at the top level. Predominantly a doubles player, Paes has won 55 titles in men’s doubles and 9 in mixed. He has played with over 100 partners, only proving how long he has been a part of the tour. Paes also holds the distinct record of having won at least one doubles title every year since 1997. The 42-year old doesn’t look like retiring any time soon, and this is only good news for all tennis lovers, especially those in India!
Currently in the news for taking the women’s doubles and mixed doubles by storm along with Indians Sania Mirza and Leander Paes. Martina Hingis is another one of those players who is taking one big step after the other after crossing the age of 30. Ironically, Hingis was regarded as one of the great young talents on the block in her hey-days, but injuries forced her to take a premature hiatus from the sport at the age of 22 in 2003. By this time, she had already won a plethora of titles, held the No. 1 rank, and set a series of ‘youngest-ever’ records. She came back to the sport only to retire again in 2007 and then resurfaced in 2013, this time, only in doubles. Her third coming has been going well for her so far. This year, she has won 11 titles, including five Grand Slams – two with Mirza and three with Paes.
The Bryan Brothers
Twins Bob and Mike Bryan are doubles specialists and have only played alongside each other all their professional career. They have held the World No. 1 ranking in doubles for 430 weeks, longer than anyone else in the history of the sport. Currently 37-years old, they have been called the ‘mirror twins’ as Bob plays left-handed while Mike plays right-handed – something which helps one to complement the other and helps in court coverage. The ‘bromance’ duo holds almost every record in the book on the men’s doubles tour. They have won 16 Grand Slam titles together, the Career Golden Slam, the Career Slam to just name a few.
A list such as this is incomplete without the mention of Roger Federer – arguably the greatest singles player of all time. The 34-year old Swiss has been the most successful player in the history of men’s tennis with a total of 87 career singles titles – of which 17 have come in Grand Slams. Federer’s legacy is unmatched to that of any other player. Along with being a splendid player, he is a grounded gentleman, a philanthropist and a gift to the sport of tennis. On the court, Federer is still one of the best, ranked at No. 2 behind only Novak Djokovic today. The fact that he keeps adding to his style of play at this stage shows that he is in no mood to bid the sport adieu. He constantly looks to adapt and improve – the mark of a great sportsman. Though he may not be winning as many titles as he used to, Federer is still always up there – competing at the highest of levels where he belongs.