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10 Athletes Who Got Better With Age

Sports on Earth logo Sports on Earth 7/17/2017 Alex Wong

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On Sunday, Roger Federer, at age 35, became the oldest Wimbledon winner (male or female) in 108 years. Inspired by his performance, here's a look at some of the greatest athletes in the latter stage of their careers and the performances that separated them from their peers.

Gordie Howe

Howe's career was filled with remarkable statistical nuggets, like the fact he had his first 100-plus points season at the age of 40 with the Detroit Red Wings during the 1968-69 season, scoring 44 goals and dishing out 59 assists. Howe also played professionally until the age of 51, when he recorded 41 points in 80 games with the Hartford Whalers. In 1997, Howe signed a one-day contract to suit up with the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League, becoming the only hockey player to suit up professionally over six different decades.

Bartolo Colon

Everyone loves Big Sexy, the jolly old fella who won't stop pitching and entertaining teammates, opponents and fans. At the age of 43, Colon went 15-8 with the New York Mets with a 3.43 ERA and was selected to the All-Star Game. Nothing, though, will top his memorable 365-foot home run against San Diego at the age of 42. It was Colon's first career homer (yes, he was also the winning pitcher in that game).

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Julio Franco

In 2015, at the age of 57, Franco was still playing baseball professionally in Japan. His age might have raised some eyebrows as to whether the former Major Leaguer would still be able to produce on the baseball field, until you remember that at the age of 46, Franco became the oldest MLB player to hit a grand slam.

Nolan Ryan

Ryan had seven no-hitters in his career. His first one came in 1973. His final one came 18 years later, at the age of 44. Ryan broke his own record, set just a year earlier, to become the oldest player in MLB history to pitch a no-hitter.

Tom Watson

Watson, at the age of 59 after hip replacement surgery, miraculously led the 2009 British Open after the second and third round, and had a chance to win his first Open championship since 1983, before he missed an eight-foot putt for the win on the 72nd hole of the tournament, eventually losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

Even though Watson didn't win the tournament, it remains one of the most inspiring performances in Open championship history.

Tim Duncan

At the age of 37, Duncan put together a masterpiece in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, hitting his first eight shots of the game, scoring 25 points in the first half, and finishing with 30 points and 17 rebounds. It would have gone down as one of the most legendary performances in a championship clincher, except we'll always remember that game for Ray Allen's series-saving three, which saved Miami's season. Two nights later, the Heat would complete the comeback with a Game 7 victory.

Brett Favre

The old gunslinger will always be remembered for his formative years in Green Bay where he led the Packers to the Super Bowl in 1997. But at the age of 40, Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings, and threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns, leading the team to the NFC Championship. It was a remarkable season, as long as we don't let everything that happened that season by this interception.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

After turning 40, Abdul-Jabbar remained a starter with the Los Angeles Lakers, and was selected as an All-Star for his final three seasons, and won two championships in that span. Shouts to the sky hook forever.

Barry Bonds

Bonds turned 40 in 2004. That season, he had an on-base percentage of .609, an OPS of 1.422, 120 intentional walks and still managed to hit 45 home runs. In his final season in 2007, Bonds led the league with 132 total walks (43 intentional) and an on-base percentage of .480. Say what you will about Bonds -- and there's a lot to say -- but he put together some of the most ridiculous and remarkable baseball statistics in the twilight of his career.

Jaromir Jagr

Jagr was drafted in 1990. His last 100-plus point season was a decade ago, in 2006 with the New York Rangers when he recorded 123 points. Jagr turned 45 this year, and just finished a season with the Florida Panthers where he appeared in all 82 games and scored 16 goals and 46 points. Jagr is playing with guys who weren't even born when he first appeared in the NHL.

Related slideshow: Best of Wimbledon men's final (Provided by USA TODAY Sports)

Roger Federer kisses the winner's trophy after beating Marin Cilic for his eighth Wimbledon title and 19th Grand Slam. Wimbledon 2017: Best of the men’s final
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