LONDON: Wimbledon champion Roger Federer deserved to be ranked alongside Pele and Muhammad Ali as one of the greatest sportsmen the world has ever seen, according to beaten finalist Andy Murray.
Federer swept to a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Murray in the final on Sunday as the Swiss great clinched the seventh Wimbledon title and 17th Grand Slam crown of his illustrious career.
The 30-year-old will also return to the top of the world rankings as a result of his latest All England Club triumph, strengthening Federer's claim to be labelled the greatest tennis player of all-time.
But Murray believes debate about Federer's greatness shouldn't just finish with his own sport.
The Scot, who is also a huge fan of Spanish world number two Rafael Nadal, is convinced Federer deserves to be mentioned alongside immortals like Brazilian footballer Pele, who inspired his country to three World Cup triumphs, and charismatic former heavyweight champion Ali, widely regarded as the best boxer ever to enter the ring.
“He's up there. Rafa, as well, for me is up there in that conversation, as well. Both of them have been unbelievable athletes. They've been great for the sport,” Murray said.
“Roger is still playing amazing tennis. A lot of people have been asking me, 'Has he started slipping? Is he not playing as well?'
“If you look at the matches he lost the last couple years they were very, very close matches that he definitely could have won.
“He could be sitting on 20 Grand Slams if one point or a couple inches here or there had gone his way
“So he's still playing great tennis. I don't think you get to number one unless you deserve it. Yeah, it's a great week for him.”