Roger Federer is without question one of the greatest tennis players of all time. At age 35, he’s already amassed 18 Grand Slam titles, he’s been ranked No. 1, and has added Olympic gold to his overflowing trophy case.
But in recent years, Federer’s career seemed to take a downturn. Battling injuries, he seemed to have abdicated his status as king of the court. That is, until this past January, when against all odds, he landed his fifth Australian Open.
In GQ‘s revealing cover story on the ageless tennis star, Federer tells the magazine that “winning Australia … [solved] so many problems.”
He also delves into another one of his defining moments: his 2001 win over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon.
“Look, I was able to experience the highest level of tennis … [my] first and only time I played Pete. I was in a match where I won 7–5 in the fifth—very similar to what we just went through with [Rafael Nadal]. I was 19 years old. I realized, Oh, my God. There’s so much more to tennis than just practice in a cold hall somewhere in Switzerland … all of a sudden it started to make sense.”
And it seems that it still makes sense to Federer. On Sunday (March 19), Federer beat Stan Wawrinka to win his fifth Indian Wells title, becoming the “oldest champion in the tournament’s history,” per CNN.
Watch a selection of career highlights from Federer below.