The modern game of tennis has become incredibly professional.

The number of top ranked players that take care of even the finest details to ensure their performance on court is the best it can possibly be is mind blowing. 

This level of professionalism extends to the way players look after their bodies, with physical therapy and nutrition playing a major role in a player’s success.

One additional consequence of players being so much more professional these days is the extension of their careers. 

Many of the world’s top players are now able to travel with a physio, coach, strength and conditioning team and a support staff that helps them be at their best all year round.

Therefore, it is much more common to see players competing well in to their late 30s, where they may have previously retired in their early 30s. 

This has had the knock on effect of creating older grand slam champions, as the greats of the game have extended their reign.

This is great to see as we can now enjoy the extended careers of some of the sport’s most iconic stars in front of our eyes. 

Most of the oldest ever grand slam winners have come in the last 20 years or so, but even prior to this a select few players managed to have some success at the top of the game even as they approached the age of 40. 

So, let’s take a closer look at the oldest ever grand slam champions and just how they were able to extend their amazing careers!

 

The Oldest Ever Grand Slam Winners

 

Here is our list of the oldest ever grand slam winners! They have all won multiple grand slams and are true legends of the game.

We have listed them from the oldest winner to the youngest. 

 

Ken Rosewall

 

Back in 1972, Ken Rosewall became the oldest ever grand slam winner by defeating Malcolm Anderson 7-6 6-3 7-5 to win the Australian Open.

Ken was 37 years, 2 months and 1 day old when he won the title and in doing so, cemented his place in the history books. 

Other greats of the game have come close to his record, but his still stands as the most impressive. 

Rosewall was one of the most successful Australian tennis players of all time, winning a total of 8 grand slams.

His career spanned across the amateurs and the open era, so he actually won 15 pro slam tournaments before the open era began.

He also became the first player in the open era to win a grand slam without losing a set at the 1971 Australian Open

Ken also holds the record for the oldest player ever to reach a grand slam final, as he played the 1974 US open final at the age of 39 years, 10 months.

He also won 9 grand slams in doubles, so was a very versatile player.

 

Roger Federer

 

The great Roger Federer has defied the odds and made history in the sport a number of times.

His comebacks and impressive form later into his career has been nothing short of astonishing. 

Federer was 36 years, 5 months and 7 days old when he claimed the 2018 Australian Open by beating Marin Cilic 2-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 6-1.

This 5 set epic is the most recent grand slam of Federer’s career to date, as he also lost in 5 sets to Novak Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final. 

Roger has been written off and proved all the critics wrong a number of times as his career has progressed.

He had a slump in 2013 as he lost early at Wimbledon and the US Open.

At the time, he was going through some back issues and testing new rackets, so many of his critics and even fans thought he was done. 

However, Roger came back full steam ahead in the 2014 season with a new, larger racket which would eventually become the Pro Staff RF97.

This racket gave him a much larger sweet spot and easier power, which massively improved his backhand and serving consistency.

Roger was able to reach the Wimbledon final again in 2014 and saw his form improve consistently year on year. 

The Swiss maestro was then able to defeat his long term rival Rafael Nadal in a 5 set epic at the Australian Open in 2017.

This was the first slam Federer had won since Wimbledon in 2012, and he would also go on to defeat Cilic again at Wimbledon in 2017 and defend his title at the Australian Open in 2018. 

One of the main reasons behind Federer’s success was his willingness to adapt.

With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal catching him up in the grand slam titles race, and both having commanding head to heads over him, something needed to change. 

He decided to work on hitting through his backhand more when he was away from the sport recovering from a knee injury, whilst changing his racket and adopting a much lighter schedule.

Skipping the French Open a number of times has also helped to preserve his body and extend his career longer than many would have ever thought possible.

Long may his playing career continue! 

 

Serena Williams

 

The oldest ever female grand slam winner to date is Serena Williams. She won the 2017 Australian Open by defeating her sister Venus 6-4 6-4 in the final.

She was 35 years, 4 months and 2 days old when she claimed the title.

This was an unbelievable achievement for Serena, as she added to her impressive grand slam total of 23 major titles, plus the fact she did it whilst she was pregnant! 

Williams has had a few opportunities to equal the great Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slams, but has fallen short in her attempts to date. 

One of the major ways in which Serena has adapted her approach to extend her career is to take more time off in between the major events.

She is a lot more selective with her schedule and will now only play the biggest and most important tournaments.

This has helped preserve her body and improved her health, whilst she has also changed her mentality towards chasing records. 

She now claims not to feel as much pressure as she is playing more to enjoy the sport and the competition rather than just for the numbers.

We all know it would be great if Serena did finally get that last grand slam and equally or even go on to surpass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slams, but even if she ended her career today, it would have been an unbelievable achievement to have won a grand slam at 35 years old! 

 

Andres Gimeno

 

At 34 years, 10 months and 1 day old, Andres Gimeno became the oldest spanish player to win a grand slam in history.

The Spaniard defeated Patrick Proisy 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-1 to win the 1972 French Open title.

At the time, Gimeno was ranked 6 in the world rankings so was not the bookies favourite going into the tournament. 

Despite the odds, he managed to win his first and only grand slam title. This also made him the oldest first time winner of a grand slam in the open era.

Andres founded his own tennis academy following his professional career and was inducted into the tennis hall of fame in 2009. 

There must have been something in the water in 1972 as the older generation were really doing well at the grand slam events! 

 

Rafael Nadal

 

Rafael Nadal will go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.

The spanish warrior has won 20 grand slams and counting, 13 of which have come at the French Open!

This unbelievable achievement is testament to his incredible work ethic and mentality. 

Nadal won the 2020 French Open by beating his bitter rival Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5. He was 34 years, 3 months and 25 days old when he did it.

This is a very impressive achievement, especially given how much time Nadal has had out of the game due to injury over his career. 

He has adapted his game to shorten the points more, adding more weight to the head of his racket has also increased the speed of his shots.

Nadal is now more comfortable coming into the net and putting volleys away, where he was predominantly a baseline grinder at the beginning of his career. 

Nadal has also adjusted his training techniques and practices with a good level of intensity now, but not for the same extended periods of time that he used to.

This has helped preserve the health of his knees and kept him winning on the court well into his 30s. 

What Rafael Nadal has achieved in his career beggars belief. But, one of the most impressive aspects of his success has been his longevity. 

 

Novak Djokovic

 

Novak Djokovic has become the most dominant force in the men’s game over the last decade.

His dominance stems from his unbelievable athleticism, mental toughness and consistency. 

This has led to him becoming one of the oldest grand slam winners in history, as he won the 2021 Australian Open at 33 years, 8 months and 17 days old.

He defeated Danil Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2 in the final, which gave him his 9th Australian Open crown and 18th grand slam title. 

Novak has refined his game to take the ball earlier and win points more efficiently, where in his early career he would rely mainly on his physicality.

He also takes unbelievable care of his body, adopting a mainly vegan diet and stretching for hours per day. His meticulous approach to the sport has clearly paid dividends. 

He also came back to the sport after an ongoing elbow injury sidelined him from the sport for a number of months in 2017.

He took his time to get back to his best, but went on to win WImbledon and the US Open only a year later in 2018. 

Novak shows no signs of slowing down any time soon and it would not be a surprise if he became the outright grand slam title leader.

His consistency and dominance over the years has been a sight to behold.

Only time will tell if he can add to his grand slam tally and overtake his rivals to become the greatest of all time. 

 

Flavia Pennetta

 

In 2015 Flavia Pannetta shocked the world by becoming the US Open champion at 33 years, 199 days old.

She defeated Roberta Vinci in the final, who had knocked out the heavy favourite Serena Williams a round before. 

This was the first all Italian grand slam final and both players were close friends growing up. 

In winning the US Open title, Flavia became the oldest ever female first time grand slam winner in tennis history.

Whilst she was certainly helped to victory by the fact that the heavy favourite had been knocked out previously, it is still an incredible feat to have won her first grand slam so late in her career.

Flavia famously announced that she would retire at the end of the 2015 season after winning the US Open title.

She went on to make her first appearance at the WTA end of year finals and would retire with a top 10 ranking to her name.  

 

Takeaways

 

It is clear that in the modern game of tennis, age can really just be a number.

With such major advances in athleticism, diet, professionalism and physicality, many of the world’s top players are extending their careers later and later these days. 

It is still a very impressive feat to win a grand slam title so late on in a player’s career.

All of the champions listed will be remembered for never giving up and always striving for greatness right up until the end of their careers.