What an era we live in for sports.
Within the last year, we saw:
Another unbelievably talented New York Yankees team win their 25th World Series.
A dominant NBA MVP Shaquille O'Neal led his Lakers to victory.
The U.S. women's soccer team beat the world against all odds.
Then came what was seemingly the climax: Tiger Woods' performance at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Not only was he the only player to shoot under par, but Tiger did it in double-digit fashion.
Golf legend Johnny Miller, in the booth for TV commentary, offered his opinion: It was the greatest performance ever by a golfer, and everyone who watched (in person and on television) would tell their grandkids that they saw Tiger's 2000 U.S. Open win.
And Miller's statement was not over-the-top, but right on the mark.
He went on to say that it possibly could have been the most dominant performance by an athlete ever. That statement may have been Johnny's opinion. I'm sure that many of you can think of some instance of athletic prowess that stands the test of time. I need only to mention Secretariat to punch a hole in Johnny's theory.
Being a novice golfer, I was in awe of Tiger that day, but it was a single event. The emotion I felt was amazement at such a feat.
Today, the emotion was tearful triumph. Today, tennis' most gracious ambassador achieved a milestone that we probably won't see again in our lifetime. Pete Sampras won his seventh Wimbledon singles championship, and in doing so pushed his all-time singles grand slam win mark to 13. He moved ahead of Roy Emerson, the great Aussie, who stands at 12.
Records are made to be broken, they say. One day, Pete's achievement probably will be dwarfed.
Some tennis fans look to the past and say, "Who knows what the Rod Laver's or Ken Rosewall's of the world would have achieved if the rules for eligibility were different?"
Others look to the future and say, "With technology making racquets lighter and stronger, the big guns will just get bigger."
Many say that men's tennis is boring now. Just serve and volley… then serve and volley some more.
Many say the women's game is better, that there's more competition. Maybe it's just that the women's game doesn't have a dominant force yet.
I think back to the xciting days of McEnroe, Connors and Borg… people weren't talking about the women's game back then…. Back then, the women's game was dominated by Martina Navratilova, the Pete Sampras of her time.
Regardless, it's Pete's moment right now. In his acceptance speech following the win, he thanked the crowd and then assured them that he'd be back next year. Even if his physical condition prevents that, or another player begins a streak, I, for one, was pleased to hear that the champion wants more and can't wait for a showdown with Agassi or Rafter in New York in August.
Johnny Miller was right. I will tell my grandkids that I watched an early-in-his-career Tiger Woods win the 2000 U.S. Open Golf Tournament.
But then, I'll tell them that just a few weeks later, I saw Pete Sampras, in the twilight of his career, weep tears of joy and hug his parents as he realized his place in the world: as the most dominant tennis player in the history of the sport.
I cried with you, Pete… for you deserved this. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
(Adam Wiener, in addition to being a lifelong tennis fan, is a former Executive Producer at CBSNews.com and is currently Vice President of Content at Office.com, a partner of the CBS Internet Group)