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Wayne Gretzky and his wife cheer on Canadian Denis Shapovalov at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.

Gretzky Declares Federer One of Greatest Athletes of All-Time

'The Great One' says Federer is among the Top 4 athletes ever

Tennis fans have debated this for years: Who's the greatest player of all-time, and where does Roger Federer fit on that short list?

But to “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky, there's no discussion. In an interview with the Canadian sports channel Sportsnet at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, Gretzky said he considers Federer not only the greatest tennis player ever but also among the top four athletes of all-time.

“He deserves to be up there with guys like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Pele. He's a special man. He's got charisma, he's got style, he's got class. He's a winner. He loves his sport. He's got a passion for the game. He's a little bit like how Gordie Howe was. He's just a special man,” Gretzky said, referring to the beloved Canadian hockey great.

The four-time Stanley Cup champion and his family have been watching ATP World Tour Masters 1000 action all week at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Gretzky's 14-year-old daughter, Emma, who plays tennis, has also practised with some ATP World Tour stars, including Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

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“The organisers of the tournament have been so wonderful to my family and I. We've had an opportunity watch a lot of tennis and watch the players practise, too,” said Gretzky, who grew up in Brantford, Ontario.

But, as complimentary of Federer as Gretzky is, he's confident that, years from now, someone else will come along and marvel tennis fans, and maybe even more so than Federer has during his 20-year career. Everyone will miss Federer, of course, but, just as great players have come along since Gretzky retired from hockey, other tennis players will emerge and impress on the ATP World Tour.

“Years from now, the tennis world and the sports world is going to look back and go, 'Wow, was that guy ever a great athlete?' But let me tell you the great thing about sports. Just when you think you've seen it all, somebody else comes along, and you go, 'Wow, we never thought we'd see a guy that good again'”, Gretzky said.

“You go back to the McEnroe days, obviously Pete Sampras, and Bjorn Borg, and people thought, 'Well, are we ever going to get a guy as good as that guy?' And all of a sudden this guy [Federer] comes along and might be as good as all of those guys combined. So that's the great thing about sports. Every sport seems to get better and every sport seems to have that guy who comes along.”

Watch The Full Interview

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