Serena Williams' return to Wimbledon represents a "great example" to other players, according to Nick Kyrgios, who said tennis fans should not take her or other fellow greats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, for granted.

Comparing the quartet to four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, Kyrgios says sports fans should enjoy the legends' "amazing" exploits while they still can.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Williams – who has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon last year – has been handed a singles wildcard to compete at the year's tournament, which begins later this month. 

Williams, now aged 40 and ranked 1,208th in the world, has won seven singles titles at Wimbledon, the last of which came in 2016, and 23 grand slams in total.

Roger Federer has reiterated his desire to make an ATP tour comeback in 2023, having not played since defeat at Wimbledon in 2021.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has been forced to the sidelines following knee surgery last year.

At 40, questions have been posed whether the Swiss star might hang up his racquet after one of the most successful careers of the Open era.

But now, Federer says he intends to make a return next year, having committed to partnering Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London before competing at the Swiss Indoors tournament in his home town of Basel.

"Yes, definitely," he told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger on his hopes for a return to the ATP tour next year. "How and where, I don't know yet. But that would be the idea.

"I haven't planned more than the Laver Cup and Basel yet. After Basel, the season is over anyway. It's important for me to get fit again so that I can train fully.

"Once I've done that, I can choose how many tournaments I play and where. The Laver Cup is a good start, I don't have to play five matches in six days.

"I will have to be able to do that in Basel. But I'm hopeful, I've come a long way. I'm not far away."

Rafael Nadal's latest grand slam triumph at the French Open is "unbelievable", says Roger Federer, who believes his rival "keeps raising the bar".

The Spaniard cruised through to both a record 14th success on clay at Roland Garros and a record-extending 22nd men's grand slam title with a straight sets demolition of Casper Ruud.

That made it two from two in 2022 for the 36-year-old, leaving him clear of both Federer and Novak Djokovic, who remain on 20 grand slam crowns each.

The former – who has enjoyed a strong sporting rivalry and friendship with Nadal throughout their intertwined careers – however has nothing but praise for his latest achievement.

"I didn't watch the final," Federer told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. "I watched the quarter-final [against Djokovic] a bit before I went to sleep.

"In general, it's just unbelievable what Rafa has achieved. The record of Pete Sampras, which I beat, was 14 grand slam titles.

"Now Rafa won the French Open 14 times. That's unbelievable. I was happy for him that he did it again.

"Hats off to Rafa. After the 10th, 11th time, I already thought: 'This can't be.' He keeps raising the bar. It's gigantic."

Federer has been unable to add to his own haul of grand slams, having missed the tail-end of 2021 and start of 2022 through injury as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

The 40-year-old Swiss star acknowledged he has not yet plotted anything more than competing in the Laver Cup and Basel Open in October, stressing he will focus on achieving full fitness rather than setting a return date.

"After Basel, the season is over anyway," he added. "It's important for me to get fit again so that I can train fully. Once I've done that, I can choose how many tournaments I play and where.

"The Laver Cup is a good start, I don't have to play five matches in six days.

"I will have be able to do that in Basel. That's why I have to prepare for it in practice. I'm curious myself what's still to come.

"But I'm hopeful, I've come a long way. I'm not far away. The next three or four months will be extremely important."

On a return to top-class tennis in 2023, Federer said that such a move remained the aim, adding: "Yes, definitely. How and where, I don't know yet. But that would be the idea. Definitely."

Roger Federer's coach called for Court Philippe-Chatrier to be named after Rafael Nadal and Real Madrid paid tribute to the legendary Spaniard after he won a staggering 14th French Open title.

Nadal produced yet another masterclass at Roland Garros, beating Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0 to secure a record-extending 22nd grand slam title on Sunday.

There have been concerns the 36-year-old may be forced to retire due to a foot injury, but one of the all-time greats vowed to fight on after completing the Australian Open and Roland Garros double in the same year for the first time.

Nadal was imperious as he moved two clear of Federer and Novak Djokovic's haul of major crowns.

The 'King of Clay' has won an astonishing 112 French Open matches and suffered only three defeats in one of the most astonishing sporting dominances.

Ivan Ljubicic, Federer's coach, called for the main show court at Roland Garros to be named after Nadal.

He tweeted: "Not many PLAYED 14 @rolandgarros tournaments. He won it 14 times. There is no word to describe this feat. Don't think good old Philippe would mind if his court changes the name to Rafael Nadal - statue is not enough."

Iga Swiatek ticked off a whole host of accomplishments as her 34-match winning streak carried her into the French Open final on Thursday.

The world number one was in sensational form heading to Roland Garros after winning five consecutive tournaments.

And there has appeared little prospect of Swiatek slowing in Paris, with her 6-2 6-1 defeat of Daria Kasatkina securing a sixth WTA Tour final appearance in a row.

Swiatek is the first player to make six finals in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams reached seven before the halfway mark in 2013.

She has also now matched Williams' best winning run this century, with only Novak Djokovic in 2011 (43), Roger Federer in 2006 (42) and Venus Williams in 2000 (35) enjoying longer sequences across both the ATP and WTA Tours since 2000.

Swiatek's feats are all the more impressive given her age, as she turned 21 just this week.

Now with 20 wins at Roland Garros, the 2020 champion is the youngest female player to that mark since Martina Hingis in 1999.

Only eight women – Evonne Goolagong, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic – have reached their second French Open final at a younger age.

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have paid tribute to the "charismatic" Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after the 37-year-old brought his 18-year professional career to a close.

Tsonga, who reached a career-high ranking of world number five in 2012, confirmed in April that he would retire at the culmination of his French Open campaign.

That duly came in the first round on Tuesday as he bowed out to world number eight Casper Ruud 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 7-6 (7-0).

He retires having won, according to Opta, 464 Tour-level matches since September 2004.

Tsonga is one of just three players, along with Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, to have beaten Nadal, Federer and Djokovic while they were ranked world number one.

He is also one of three players, alongside Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych, who have defeated Nadal, Federer and Djokovic at grand slams.

A video tribute was played on court after his defeat to Ruud, which featured messages from the sport's most iconic players.

Federer said: "I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!

"We had some great battles. Enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators."

Djokovic added: "Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I was very happy to share the court with him many times.

"We get along well and he's a really nice guy. He brought a lot of positive attention and popularity to our sport not just because of his dynamic game style, but also his charisma and his personality, so it's a big loss for professional men's tennis to have him retire.

"I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He's made his mark and his legacy in our sport."

Nadal said: "He is very charismatic. I've known him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I'm sad to see him going but we are getting old so it's going to happen for everyone."

Speaking at a media conference after his defeat, Tsonga said he would now spend some time relaxing before focusing on the development of his tennis academy.

He said he will miss the adrenaline of playing on court, as well as how he was able to express himself completely when competing.

"It's adrenaline, to step onto a big court like this one," he said. "It's adrenaline you can feel when you have 15,000 people shouting out your name, supporting you on the court.

"This is what I'm going to miss – the contact with the crowd. And with those who have been supporting me for all these years.

"You know, in real life, it's sometimes difficult to be intense. You don't want to shock, you don't want to be too rude, you don't want to hurt somebody.

"You always try to act to be nice, to be sociable. But, you know, on the court, you can express your fever. You can express everything about you, and it's sometimes freeing."

Andrey Rublev is unsure what the best course of action is ahead of Wimbledon, but hopes tennis can "work together" to ensure the grand slam goes ahead, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic targeting history. 

Wimbledon was last week stripped of its ranking points by the WTA and ATP over the decision from The All England Club to ban Belarusian and Russian players – including Rublev – from competing.

That decision was made in the midst of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

With ranking points now not on offer, several high-profile players, including former WTA number one Naomi Osaka, have suggested they may skip the tournament.

Rublev might have no choice not to compete at Wimbledon, unless The All England Club scraps the ban altogether, but he says it is of utmost importance that tennis comes together to find a solution.

And Rublev believes the very elite players – such as Nadal and Djokovic – will compete anyway, regardless of ranking points or prize money, as he suggested tennis owes the duo, along with fellow great Roger Federer.

He told a news conference: "I don't know, because I haven't talked with any player about it, especially top ones. I guess the top players, especially Rafa, Novak, they are not playing now for points or for money.

"They are playing to be the first in history who achieve this amount of slams. So they are playing for a different thing. That's why it's very important to work together, to keep this amazing glory that we are having now, because of these players.

"If we are not going to work together, we just destroy it. What Roger, what Rafa, what Novak is doing, they did all these years. 

"They are other players from another generation, and we have to respect this, and that's why somehow we need finally to defend each other. Players need to defend the tournaments. Tournaments need to defend the players.

"Like this, tennis will grow, grow, grow a lot, because now all the success of tennis is only because of these three players, because of Roger, Rafa and Novak."

Rublev came through his first-round match at Roland Garros on Tuesday, defeating Kwon Soon-woo 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 6-4.

However, the seventh seed lashed out after losing the first set, recklessly hitting a ball out onto the court as he approached his chair, before slamming a water bottle into the court in frustration.

"I was quite tight, and I had a lot of emotions and I tried to really control them," Rublev said. 

"I tried to understand the situation. Be positive. I was able to be quiet and just be positive basically until the end of the first set. Then, yes, I lost my mind for a moment, and of course I regret what I did.

"It's unacceptable to hit the ball the way I hit it. It's more, I don't know, better even, if I just hit the racquet on the seat, because the ball can affect – I mean, it's not about me – it can affect someone. That's when the problem comes.

"This is unprofessional from my side, and hopefully I will never do it again."

Rafael Nadal has surpassed Roger Federer for match wins at a single grand slam after defeating Jordan Thompson in the first round at the French Open.

Nadal won 6-2 6-2 6-2 against the world number 82 on Monday, as he bids for a record-extending 14th title at Roland Garros.

The 35-year-old, 21-time grand slam champion has recorded 106 victories from 109 matches, excluding walkovers, at the French Open, only losing to Robin Soderling (2008) and Novak Djokovic (2015 and 2021).

Nadal's remarkable form in Paris means that he has now overtaken fellow great Roger Federer when it comes to winning matches at one of the majors.

Federer has tallied up 105 wins at Wimbledon, which the Swiss has won on eight occasions, last doing so in 2017.

Nadal, one of only three players to have previously won the French Open without losing a single set, will face wild card Corentin Moutet in round two, after the Frenchman defeated Stan Wawrinka – the 2015 champion – 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-3.

Roger Federer hopes to replicate fellow tennis great Rafael Nadal's "incredibly inspiring" recovery from injury when he makes his own comeback from knee surgery.

Nadal suffered from a recurring foot problem last season but returned to secure a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, moving ahead of Federer and Novak Djokovic in the men's all-time list.

Federer has been out of action since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, where he sustained another problem with his knee and subsequently underwent a third surgery in the space of 18 months.

The Swiss is yet to put a timeframe on his full ATP Tour return, although he is scheduled to play at the Laver Cup in September before playing the Swiss Indoors Basel event in his home city in October.

Federer, who turns 41 in August, referenced Nadal as he expressed his hopes to emulate the Spaniard's 20-match winning streak that he embarked on when returning from injury this season.

"It's incredibly inspiring when someone comes back from massive health problems," Federer told Caminada Magazin.

"Rafa and I talk on the phone from time to time, we talk a lot. I knew he wasn't doing great, but when he made it I was really happy for him. The effort is immense."

 

As for Federer's recovery, the world number 46 detailed the struggles he has to go through just to make it onto the court.

"As with a car, you have to turn a thousand screws until the engine runs smoothly," he added. "Today, mobilisation, stretching, and a warm-up in the morning take about 45 minutes. Then we drive to the plant. There follows a warm-up on the pitch, half an hour. 

"After that I eat, stretch, strengthen my ankles with tapes, then warm up again, do gymnastics and explosive speed exercises. Before I finally play, I took care of my body for two and a half hours.

"I don't post many pictures of the strenuous training because I was always convinced that it was a matter of course. Everyone trains hard. 

"I swore to myself that by the end of my career I wouldn't be completely broken. Later I would like to go skiing with the children and play football with my colleagues. That's why I'm doing rehab now – not just for tennis. Also for life after your career."

Asked when he will make his comeback, Federer added: "I can't even think that far. I'm waiting for the doctors' okay. I'm ready to give it my all again. 

"I feel like a racehorse scratching its stall and wanting to race. In the summer I hope to be able to hit the ground running. 

"I'm looking forward to coming home in the evening after the tough day of training and being completely exhausted."

Roger Federer will make his comeback at the Laver Cup in September before playing the Swiss Indoors Basel event in his home city.

It means the legendary 20-time grand slam winner is set to miss all four majors this year.

The eight-time Wimbledon champion will turn 41 in August, and it remains to be seen whether the two events turn out to be farewell tournaments before he retires.

Federer has battled knee trouble over the past two years and has barely featured on the ATP Tour, with his most recent appearance coming at Wimbledon last year, where he was beaten in the quarter-finals by Hubert Hurkacz, a straight-sets defeat that culminated in a 6-0 third set.

The Swiss great has undergone surgery in an effort to finish his career on his own terms.

News of his comeback plans were announced by the Swiss Indoors organisers, who issued a statement that said: "Ten-time singles champion and hometown hero Roger Federer has announced his comeback to the stadium at St Jakobshalle. The Swiss all-time great has confirmed his initial agenda will include the Laver Cup in London followed by the Swiss Indoors in Basel."

Responding to the announcement, Federer posted on Instagram: "Looking forward to playing back home."

The Laver Cup takes place in London from September 23 to 25, and the Swiss Indoors Basel runs from October 24 to 30.

Federer will play his opening match at the latter on Tuesday, October 25, the organisers said.

"The worldwide interest in the return of the hometown hero and 20-time grand slam champion to the ATP Tour is expected to be tremendous," the Swiss Indoors statement added.

Federer for a long time held the record for the most grand slam singles titles won by a man; however, he has been joined on 20 by Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal moved out on his own with 21 by triumphing at the Australian Open this year.

Roger Federer says he hopes to return to action by the end of the summer, with his recovery from knee surgery likely to rule the 20-time grand slam winner out of Wimbledon.

The 40-year-old underwent surgery on his right knee for the third time last August, and has missed five of the last seven grand slams.

Federer made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year, but coach Severin Luthi recently said that he "can't imagine" the eight-time Wimbledon winner featuring in London this summer.

Federer has now provided an update on his recovery to Swiss broadcaster SRF, saying that the end of summer or start of autumn is a realistic target for his return, which could mean he is back for the US Open that starts on August 29.

However, he feels "positive" about his return to the court whenever that comes.

"It will certainly be a while," Federer said. "The end of the summer, early autumn, [that's] where I'm aiming for a comeback.

"It's [the knee] fine. Much better. Obviously, I was on crutches for two months, so you have to start from the bottom.

"It [the surgery] was certainly the right thing to do, the knee wasn't right after Wimbledon [last year], so it couldn't go on.

"Currently I'm in three parts. First, the whole rehab, getting back on your feet at the beginning. Then afterwards, learning to walk and building up the whole thing.

"It's only now where I'm at the phase where I can start thinking about my comeback. I had a very good MRI a few weeks ago, which makes me feel very positive."

 

Federer's tally of 20 career Grand Slam titles was surpassed by Rafael Nadal in January's Australian Open, and the duo are set, fitness permitting, to team up to represent Europe in the Laver Cup, which takes place in September.

The timeline for Federer's recovery also means that he will miss the second slam of 2022, May's French Open at Rolland Garros.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will combine for Team Europe in this year's Laver Cup.

Nadal became the record holder for men's singles grand slam titles on Sunday, as he came from two sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Australian Open.

Federer, who like Novak Djokovic has 20 grand slam titles to his name, has not featured since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year.

The Swiss star is recovering from a knee injury and chose to sit out the season's first major in Melbourne.

However, injury permitting, the great rivals will team up to represent Team Europe in London in September.

Europe have won the last four editions of the tournament, though neither Nadal nor Federer featured in 2021.

"The Laver Cup is such a unique event and I've loved competing in it," said Nadal, who has played in the competition on two occasions previously.

"I suggested to Roger we should play doubles together in London and he seems keen, so now we just need to persuade our captain Bjorn [Borg].

"Roger has been a huge part of my career, a big rival and also a true friend. To be part of Team Europe together is great and if we're able to possibly share the court one more time as a doubles pairing then this would be a truly special experience for us both at this stage in our careers."

 

Federer added: "I'm really looking forward to getting back into competition later this year and Laver Cup is very much part of my plan.

"It's no secret that I love the event and I'm super excited to be returning to The O2 and to London, one of the greatest cities in the world.

"Rafa is an incredible person and an inspiration to me and countless others around the world. He messaged me on social media after the Laver Cup in Boston last year suggesting we play doubles in London and I am definitely up for a Laver Cup 'Fedal' comeback!"

Federer and Nadal have only teamed up for a doubles match once before – in the inaugural Laver Cup back in 2017.

They beat American duo Jack Sock and Sam Querrey in three sets.

Roger Federer still has the drive to return to the ATP Tour but is yet to run and is still months away in his recovery from a third knee operation.

The 40-year-old 20-time grand slam winner missed last month's Australian Open after a knee operation in August.

Federer has not played since a quarter-final loss to Hubert Hurkacz at Wimbledon last year and previously said he would be "incredibly surprised" if he was fit to play at the event in 2022.

"It's a very important next few months ahead of me," Federer said at a sponsor's event on Wednesday. "I'll know a whole lot more in April what my body is going to be like.

"Up until now I was not able to run yet and do the heavy workload. I hope that starts in the next couple of weeks and then we'll see how my body reacts.

"For now, the drive is there. I'm really motivated to do my work and what I'm allowed to do. I'd love to do way more, but the doctors are holding me back a bit."

The eight-time Wimbledon champion elaborated on his recovery, revealing he hopes to put weight on his knee again in the coming weeks.

"I can still not run. But I'm working daily in the gym," Federer said. "I really hope that I can put weight on my knee again in two to three weeks. Then we'll see how the body reacts so we can hit the ball again in April or May."

He added: "Of course I wish that everything could go quicker. But the doctors don't want me to overdo everything."

Rafael Nadal is motivated to win more grand slams than rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic come the end of the trio's careers, but he believes he will need more than 21 to achieve that.

Spaniard Nadal sealed a record 21st grand slam title on Sunday at the Australian Open, beating Daniil Medvedev 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 in a marathon five hours and 24 minutes.

It was only the second Australian Open title of Nadal's decorated career and put him out ahead of Djokovic and Federer (both 20) as the man to have won the most grand slams of all time.

Nadal worried his career was over just a matter of weeks ago as he struggled to recover from the foot injury that has affected a large part of his career.

He abandoned a stop-start 2021 season in August and missed Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open, leaving many to wonder if Nadal would ever be a force at the top level again.

Now, the 35-year-old is the man to beat once more, although he suspects he will need to add more major titles to his name to ensure he is ahead of his two great rivals when their careers are over.

"A short time ago I would have accepted just being able to just play tennis and not to win any more grand slams, but now I have 21," he told a media conference. 

"My way of seeing it doesn't change. I want to be the one with more grand slams at the end of the careers of the three of us, because nowadays it is the three of us. Yes, I would like that, but I am not obsessed by it and it does not frustrate me that I might not be the one. 

"Honestly, I don't think that 21 will be enough to end up being who has more grand slams, but the future will tell what will happen. Again, I feel fortunate in this life.

"All three of us have won more than we could have dreamed when we were kids. I understand the debate of who is the best, and it feeds the fans, but I don't think about it like that. As always, I try to do it my way and not focus on others.

"I follow my way and if that allows me to have options to fight in order to have more moments like the ones I've just had, it will be welcome. I will fight for it and I hope to keep having chances if my physical condition allows me."

Nadal's focus now turns to the Indian Wells Masters, which starts on March 10, with it appearing unlikely he will play in Acapulco a fortnight earlier. 

"My first priority is to try to analyse how I am after the Australian Open," he added. "I need a few days and then I will analyse things with calm and clarity. 

"For Indian Wells, I would say I have the maximum determination to go if there isn't any setbacks. For Acapulco, I would like to be there but I have to make a smart choice. The perspective has changed and I do have to take decisions according to what my body allows me."

Roger Goodell's description of Tom Brady on Tuesday as merely "one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL" felt a little generous to the competition. 

In the period of claim and counter-claim between reports of his retirement on Saturday and confirmation on Tuesday, the verdict had been cast – not that it was ever in doubt. 

Among others, Patrick Mahomes, better placed than most to consider quality quarterback play, told ESPN: "His career is one of a kind. That's why he's the GOAT." 

There is no dispute, no debate: Brady is the greatest. 

The 44-year-old leads the way by most metrics, including the most important one, with an unprecedented seven Super Bowl championships. 

Yet the stunning nature of some of those successes mean the emotional argument in Brady's favour is as convincing as the statistical one. 

Unmoved by his NFL-record 84,520 passing yards? Try the Super Bowl LI comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. 

This career had it all, and most dissenting voices had long since disappeared by the time Brady arrived in Tampa in 2020 "as the greatest football player of all time", as Bruce Arians put it. He still had another title in him. 

But Brady has not just set the standard in the NFL for the past 22 years; his achievements are surely unmatched across the entire sporting world. 

BEATING THE BEST

Wrestling with past legacies is never easy for an elite sports star. Even as the best of their generation, comparisons will be drawn with those who have gone before. 

In the case of LeBron James in the NBA, Michael Jordan casts a long shadow. 

James may now widely be considered the second-greatest player in the history of the league, but the gap to the number one spot scarcely seems to be closing, even now with titles and Finals MVP recognition on three different teams – and his own Space Jam sequel. 

Elsewhere, Formula One's Lewis Hamilton has done what James could not with Jordan in matching Michael Schumacher's haul of titles. 

But when Hamilton closed in on a record-breaking eighth drivers' championship in 2021, rival Sebastian Vettel scoffed: "Even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest. Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships, but it doesn't change anything for me." 

The combination of being unable to see two athletes side by side and having memories tinged with nostalgia makes life hard on the modern great. 

For Brady, Joe Montana was the closest thing to a Jordan or Schumacher figure at quarterback. 

Although Montana ranked sixth for all-time passing yards – Dan Marino, the 20th century's passing yards leader, never won a title – his four Super Bowls had matched Terry Bradshaw's benchmark and were still fresh enough in the memory in 2000, the last coming in the 1989 season. 

Yet that was a gap Brady was swiftly able to bridge. By August 2005, with three rings already in his collection, the headline of a GQ profile asked if the Patriots passer was "the best there ever was". 

At 27, 10 years younger than James and Hamilton are now, there appeared little doubt Brady would leave Marino behind. 

TOP OF HIS CLASS

Perhaps Brady benefited from the standard of the competition. His career overlapped with Brett Favre at the start, Mahomes at the end and met with Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers somewhere around the middle, all of them forcing him to raise his game. 

But such depth of talent can so easily muddy the waters. 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have matched each other stride for stride, meaning there remains no consensus pick for football's 'GOAT'. Both merit the position, yet neither have dominated an era like Pele or Diego Maradona. 

In tennis, the tussle is even more intense. Until Rafael Nadal's Australian Open triumph on Sunday, three men were tied on a record 20 grand slam titles. 

Injuries to Roger Federer and coronavirus complications with Novak Djokovic may be enough to keep Nadal at the summit, but personal preference dictates the all-time rankings when the margins are so fine. 

Again, however, Brady came through. None of those modern-day rivals have won three Super Bowls, let alone matching Montana's four or Brady's staggering seven. 

Mahomes had appeared the most likely to challenge that mark in the years to come, but four seasons as a starter have now yielded one title. At the same point, Brady had three and that GQ headline. 

"To win that many Super Bowls and win that many games, it's hard," Mahomes said after losing Sunday's AFC Championship Game. "I understand that. The years that I've had, I've been close a lot.  

"I've only been there twice, and I've only won once. I understand it takes a special player ... for that to happen." 

In Joe Burrow, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert, Mahomes will not have it easy going forward either – an exciting new generation guarding Brady's legacy, not that he could not have done it himself had he chosen to play on. 

Brady, in the regular season and playoffs, holds a 3-2 record against Mahomes, 4-0 against Allen and 1-0 against Herbert. He never faced Burrow, potentially the next Super Bowl-winning QB. 

Instead, the perennial winner departs not as a champion – he has been that enough times – but as undoubtedly the best player his sport has ever seen. A rare phenomenon indeed. 

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