Thursday December 7, 2023

French Open: Next Title For Age-Defying Stars?

  • In the last year, Tom Brady, Sue Bird, LeBron James, Phil Mickelson, and Hélio Castroneves have all defied their age and won championships.
  • Serena Williams and Roger Federer have a chance to join them at the French Open.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
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The conventional wisdom is that athletes peak in their mid-20s, when youthful reflexes combine with years of experience. These days, 35 is looking like the new 25. 

Should Serena Williams or Roger Federer, both 39, win the French Open and its $1.7 million top prize in the men’s and women’s brackets (part of a $42 million total purse), they will join a series of older legends beating out younger competition at the highest level in sports this past year. 

  • Tom Brady, 43, led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win. Brady has seven championships and over $263 million in career salary earnings. 
  • Phil Mickelson, 50, won the PGA Championship and $2.2 million in May, bringing him to $94.6 million in career earnings. 
  • On Sunday, Hélio Castroneves, 46, won his fourth Indy 500 and its $2 million prize, bringing his net worth to an estimated $40 million. 

Meanwhile, LeBron James, 36, and Sue Bird, 40, are each fighting to defend last year’s NBA and WNBA championships.

Is something in the water … or food? The global sports nutrition market topped $44 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $60 billion by 2026.

Time will tell if this trend is simply a convergence of generational talents staying at the tops of their games — or a sign that advances in fitness, nutrition, and training are helping athletes to maintain peak performance for longer. James alone invests a reported $1.5 million annually to take care of his body.

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