Roger Federer said he always believed he could win Wimbledon again, after ending a five-year wait for his eighth title with victory over Marin Cilic.
The Swiss, 35, won 6-3 6-1 6-4 to become the most successful man in Wimbledon singles history, and claim a 19th Grand Slam title.
Federer’s previous triumph at the All England Club was in 2012, and he has since lost in the 2014 and 2015 finals.
“It’s special, Wimbledon was always my favourite tournament,” he said.
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“I truly believed. For me, it was also important that my team believed it, as well.
“My heroes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here. Because of them, I think I became a better player too.
“To make history here at Wimbledon really means a lot to me just because of all of that really. It’s that simple.”
Fourteen years after his first Wimbledon triumph, Federer added to his lengthy list of achievements:
- He becomes the first man to win Wimbledon eight times, surpassing Pete Sampras (2000) and William Renshaw (1889).
- He is the oldest man to win Wimbledon since the Open era began in 1968.
- He extends his record to 19 Grand Slam titles, ahead of Rafael Nadal on 15.
- He stands joint-fourth on the all-time Grand Slam list with Helen Wills Moody, five behind Margaret Court.
Federer has lost just two matches in 2017, and held match points in both of those, collecting titles at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami Masters, Halle and now Wimbledon.
His success is all the more remarkable after he left the All England Club 12 months ago and chose to miss the rest of 2016 to fully recover from a knee injury.
The Swiss returned to win his 18th major title in Melbourne, sparking a superb run of form, but then skipped the clay-court season and took a 10-week break.
“Honestly, I’m incredibly surprised how well this year is going, how well I’m feeling,” said Federer.
“I knew I could do great again maybe one day, but not at this level. I guess you would have laughed, too, if I told you I was going to win two Slams this year. People wouldn’t believe me if I said that.
“I also didn’t believe that I was going to win two this year. It’s incredible.”
Federer rose to third in the world rankings on Monday, and plans to play more in the second half of the season than the first.
He also expects to try for a ninth Wimbledon title in 2018, aged 36.
“The goal is definitely to be here again next year to try to defend,” he said.
Cilic, 28, struggled with a blister on his left foot and broke down in tears during the second set of the final.
“I even felt it in the match with Querrey in the semis,” said the Croat. “Fluid just came down under my callus in the foot.”
The seventh seed revealed he had taken painkillers before the match and knew as early as the warm-up that he would struggle to move freely.
On the tearful changeover, he said: ” It was just emotionally that I knew on such a big day that I’m unable to play my best tennis, in physical, and in every single way.
“That was just a little bit combination of all emotions because I know how much it took for me to get here.”
Federer – the standout statistics
|Most successful men in singles Grand Slams|
|19 titles – Roger Federer|
|15 – Rafael Nadal|
|14 – Pete Sampras|
|12 – Novak Djokovic, Roy Emerson|
|11 – Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver|
|10 – Bill Tilden|
|8 – Ken Rosewall, Fred Perry, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl|
Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent
Twelve months ago, the state of Federer’s knee and his future in the sport were uncertain. Six months away from competition worked wonders and he is now within striking distance of returning to the top of the rankings.
The now 19-time Grand Slam champion turns 36 in three weeks and yet it is he or Rafael Nadal who will be the next world number one.
With Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic weighing up the best way to treat hip and elbow injuries, Federer is up to number three and doesn’t have a single ranking point to defend for the rest of the year.