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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 03:00 GMT 04:00 UK
Sampras: Simply the best
A seventh Wimbledon men's singles title and the 13th Grand Slam of a remarkable career surely installs Pete Sampras as the greatest men's player of them all.
The record-breaking American now stands ahead of Roy Emerson, who claimed 12 titles, while Bjorn Borg boasted five successive Wimbledon titles and six French Opens before his premature retirement at the age of 25.
Rod Laver remains the only player to win the Grand Slam twice, as an amateur in 1962 and again as a professional in 1969, and 30s legends Don Budge and Fred Perry boasted a stack of Grand Slam titles.
But surely none can deny Sampras his place at the top of the pile.
Two Australian titles, three US Opens and now seven at Wimbledon, only the clay of Roland Garros continues to thwart Sampras.
A notoriously unemotional man, Sampras' teak-tough veneer finally cracked after his latest triumph.
There was even hints of tears as he climbed the Wimbledon grandstand steps to embrace his parents, Sam and Georgia, who had flown from Los Angeles to see him win a tournament for the first time.
Centre Court was in darkness by the time Sampras was handed the trophy for a seventh time, but his beaming smile lit up the arena just as well as the popping flash bulbs of the press and the 14,000 fans who witnessed a truly great sporting milestone.
Some will claim that no player can be considered the greatest until he has conquered all surfaces and claimed a place in the Grand Slam hall of fame, but Sampras has a spirit and determination to win that has never been matched.
His achievement is unlikely to be matched again in the foreseeable future - if ever.
While France remains his only flaw, dominating an era in which all-round standards have increased makes him the champion of all champions.
And he has not finished. No sooner had Wimbledon's men's trophy been returned to its rightful owner than Pistol Pete announced he would reload again for next year.
You could almost hear the communal sigh from the rest of the world's players, who can only dream of reaching the amazing standards Sampras has set.
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