Six years after getting a taste for grand slam titles, Roger Federer returned to the scene of his first major triumph on Sunday to rewrite the record books.
His titanic 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14 victory over admirable American Andy Roddick clinched a sixth Wimbledon men's singles title and took his tally of grand slam triumphs to 15 -- one more than seven-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras who flew in from California to watch the epic on Centre Court.
When he beat Australia's Mark Philippoussis on the same rectangular lawn in 2003 it was clear that Federer was no one-hit wonder but even the absurdly talented Swiss could never have imagined that 14 more grand slam titles would follow.
The sporting icon said he was glad that he had been able to carve another statistic in his remarkable career at the tournament he holds most dear.
"I'm happy I broke the record here because this is always the tournament that's meant the most to me because of what we spoke about with my heroes and idols being so successful," he told reporters.
"It definitely feels like it's come full circle for me, you know, starting it here and ending it here. Of course, my career is far from over. But it's also nice to think especially so many legends were sitting there today."
Five-times champion Bjorn Borg was also in the Royal Box, as was four-times winner Rod Laver, but the presence of Sampras, who arrived with wife Bridgette Wilson to generous applause after three games of the final, clearly pleased Federer, even if it added to the big-day nerves.
"I used to get nervous when a friend would come watch me play as a kid, then it was my parents, then it was legends, " Federer, who was told on Saturday that Sampras was coming, said.
"Today anybody can come and watch me play. I don't get nervous but with Pete it was a bit special. When he walked in and I saw him for the first time, I did get nervous. I said hello to him, which is unusual...I didn't want to be rude.
"I know how much the record meant to him and he knows how much the record means to me."
Asked how to describe the feeling of winning 15 grand slams, the 27-year-old Federer said it was "staggering". "I knew what it took to win the big ones. But it's crazy that I've been able to win so many in such a short period of time, " he said.
With 15 grand slam titles in the bag, back at world number one after playing second fiddle to Rafael Nadal for nearly a year, life cannot get much better for Federer.
"The next priorities? What do you think? Not tennis," said Federer, whose wife Mirka will soon give birth to their first child.