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Aces over Age

September 10, 2002



Tennis great Pete Sampras's win at the US Open Sunday not only was a great personal victory (his fifth Open win, and 14th Grand Slam); it was a win for those tempted to think that athletic super-stardom of necessity fades with age. (See story, page 4.)

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Sampras defied those calling for his retirement, and fought his way to victory (with no less than 33 aces) in Flushing Meadows against longtime rival, Andre Agassi, himself a 30-something.

The two join the active-elder ranks of others who've helped push the envelope on the definition of just what it means to be in one's "prime."

Baseball great Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter at 44. Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at 48. Hockey star Gordie Howe played till 50. Morten Andersen, the oldest player in the NFL at 42, kicked a game-winning field goal for the Kansas City Chiefs – the same day Sampras won.

Sampras himself revealed part of the attitude that helps break such age barriers when he said recently, "I still love to compete. I still love to play."

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