An extraordinary Australian Open came to a memorable climax over the weekend, as Serena Williams and Roger Federer proved that age is no barrier when supreme ability is on show.
The event, which has earned the nickname "the throwback slam" due to the presence of four 30-somethings in the singles finals, saw the two 35-year-olds setting new records. Serena Williams' 23rd Grand Slam title set a new record for the Open Era as she passed Steffi Graf's tally of 22, while Federer's 18th Grand Slam, coming five years after his last, extended his own record and made him the first man to win five times or more at three different Grand Slam events.
Serena's victory - which has also enabled her to reclaim the world number one spot - was a relatively straightforward affair against sister Venus as she won 6-4, 6-4, although the match started with four successive breaks of serve. Once it settled down, however, the younger sister was to prevail and if she can add the French Open title in June, she will come to The Championships, Wimbledon on 24 Grand Slams, level with the all-time record set by Australia's Margaret Court, who won 13 of her titles before the Open Era.
Fans booking corporate hospitality at the All England club will also be excited to see a revived Federer as he goes for a record eighth title at the venue. His see-saw 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Rafael Nadal capped an extraordinary comeback for a man who had been out for six months with knee trouble and had to beat four players ranked in the top ten to take the title, three of them in five sets. Even allowing for the shock exit of Andy Murray that meant Federer didn't have to face the world number one, it was an exceptional feat.
If Wimbledon will have high hopes of Federer, so too Nadal. He, too, exceeded expectations after a series of wrist and other injuries, but his run to his first Grand Slam final since 2014 showed he is back in business and has plenty left in the tank. He will surely be the favourite on clay when Roland Garros comes around, and fans attending the Aegon Championships at the Queen's Club will hope he appears there again, having had to pull out with injury last year.
Federer did get some tongues wagging in his post-match speech when he told the crowd: "I hope to see you next year, but if not, this was a wonderful run here and I can't be more happy to have won tonight." This led to some wondering if he was contemplating the possibility of retirement. If he is, then it is all the more reason to come and see him at Wimbledon.
However long Federer has left, 2017 should be a particularly exciting tennis year, and one in which being a 30-something is clearly no barrier to success. By the time Wimbledon comes around, holder Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will be 30, while US Open champion Stan Wawrinka will be 32. Add in the Williams sisters and the fact that the deposed women's world number one Angelique Kerber turns 30 this year, and the 20-somethings may just have to wait a bit longer to get their hands on the big prizes.