Roger Federer conceded he had surprised himself by breaking Pete Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slam titles.
The 27-year-old reached the milestone of 15 by winning a marathon Wimbledon final against Andy Roddick on Sunday.
"It's staggering that I've been able to play so well for so many years, staying injury free," said Federer, who came through 16-14 in the final set.
"For me to be the player I am now, I'm surprised. I didn't expect it. I never thought I could be this consistent."
As he had promised, Sampras made his first visit to Wimbledon since 2002 to watch Federer break the mark he had only set in 2003.
"Roger's a friend, he's a great player, he's a good guy," stated the American, who won seven Wimbledon titles, one more than Federer's current tally.
I still feel like we share it just because he was such a wonderful champion
Federer on Sampras
"He can get 17 or 18 majors. If he just keeps it going and stays healthy, he could go to 18, 19, actually. The guy's a legend and now he's an icon. He's a credit to the game."
Sampras made his entrance after the third game of the final and received a round of applause from the crowd as he took his seat alongside fellow tennis legends Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.
Federer looked up from his chair and even greeted the American but admitted that Sampras's presence had made him nervous.
"When he walked in I did get more nervous," revealed the 27-year-old, who wore a T-shirt with the slogan 'There is no finish line...' for his post-match press conference.
"But it's especially nice that so many legends were sitting there - especially Pete.
"I know how much the record meant to him and he knows how much it means to me.
"I still feel like we share it just because he was such a wonderful champion. It's nice that he shows appreciation for what I'm doing."
With the title, Federer reclaimed the world number one ranking he lost to Rafa Nadal last year but he said the injured Spaniard's absence from this year's tournament did not detract from his achievement.
"I don't think it should. That's the way tennis goes," said Federer.
"Of course, I would have loved to play him again. It's sad he couldn't give it a fair chance.
"But tennis moves very quickly. I'm happy I did it by winning the tournament, not just by him not playing."
But victory did not come easily.
For the third year in a row, he was taken to five sets and the match featured more games than any other men's final in Wimbledon history.
But after an incredible 29 games of the fifth set went with serve, Roddick was broken for the first time in the match to give Federer victory after more than four hours.
"Andy played great," said the champion. "It was frustrating at times because I couldn't break until right at the very end. The satisfaction is maybe bigger this time because I couldn't control the match at all."
And Federer attempted to console Roddick, who has now lost three Wimbledon finals to the Swiss and has won two of their 21 encounters.
"It's hard. Sport, tennis is cruel sometimes," he added.
"I went through some five-setters too and ended up losing. It's hard but he did great - he's going to come back strong and play great in the States.
"It's one of the best matches we played against each other. I had to play my best to come through."
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