If you didn’t already know: Brian Philips from Run of Play is pretty good at writing about sports. Great piece about Federer’s enduring greatness and that awkward twilight phase of elite athlete’s careers where we’re not quite sure how good they’re supposed to be (shoutout to Kobe!).

Some good lines:

  • There’s something underneath all that stuff, some deep-down fantasy thing we go to top-level sports to get — whether it’s reconciliation with the body or simulated tribal combat or the dream of immortality — and some athletes just make you see it.
  • The saddest moment in the career of a great athlete is the one when he’s tagged with the word “still.” One day you’re fast. One day you’re slow. There’s an in-between day when you’re “still fast,” and that’s the day when everything hollows out.
  • But because he’s been “still great” for so long — because we keep seeing the end coming, even if it never actually comes — Federer has also acquired an aura of weird sadness over the past few years that’s hard to reconcile with the way we used to think about him.