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.)
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."