Royal Albert Hall and myWorld Champions Tennis logo

Royal Albert Hall, London

myWorld Champions Tennis
ATP Champions Tour

Towards the end of 2010, when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were preparing to pass the torch to a talented new generation of players who would definitely end their dominance of the male tennis circuit, Cher emerged from the shadows to defiantly announce (to the few people in the world still paying attention to her music) that "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me".

Royal Albert Hall exterior
Old building.

She was quite indignant and a little sassy about it, saying: "I'm gonna stand my ground. You're not gonna stop me. You don't know me. You don't know who I am. Don't count me out so fast." Are these song lyrics or a transcript of an argument taking place before the DNA test results are revealed during The Jeremy Kyle Show?

It wasn't like we asked for it either. After all, we were quite happy continuing to act as though 'Believe' never existed and that the singer was comfortably enjoying retirement. We certainly didn't ask for her to decide to start releasing music again. All of which begs the question, when should a professional entertainer wind down their career for good?

Mark Philippoussis, Greg Rusedski, Mansour Bahrami, Tommy Haas, Goran Ivanisevic and Juan-Carlos Ferrero pose for a photo before the myWorld Champions Tennis event at Royal Albert Hall
Old men.

For musicians, the window can remain propped open for a long time for those who avoid joining the 27 Club. Nostalgia helps even the one hit wonders stretch out their careers well past the point their shelf-life expired, and far more successful acts can spend the rest of their lives selling out venues until they decide they've had enough, or all the original members that people actually cared about have died (although even that doesn't stop some bands sometime).

And thanks to Disney and Marvel Studios's state of the art de-aging software and CGI, someone in the TV and movie industry like Clint Eastwood, still going strong at the ripe old age of 89, could probably continue to make and star in movies long after he's dead. After all, who didn't love Peter Cushing's performance in Rogue One?

Juan-Carlos Ferrero prepares to serve in front of the Grand Organ inside the Royal Albert Hall
Old organ.

Sportsmen cannot rely on being de-aged. Sure they can try PEDs, but for those with a slightly more centred moral compass, their window is only open for a limited amount of time. The constant churn of more physically gifted athletes emerging all the time means a very short shelf-life for even the most elite of competitors. Some try and cling on excessively (hi, Tom Brady), but most just disappear into the night, forgotten about as quickly as they burst onto the scene.

Most average Joes will expect to call it a day once we hit 65, and the underachievers out there who put their degrees to great use, like me, can expect to be of retirement age sometime just before our 650th birthday.

Juan-Carlos Ferrero serves during his match against Tommy Haas at myWorld Champions Tennis
'Old serve.

But up until the point that Messrs Federer, Nadal and Djokovic decided that nobody else shall ever win tennis tournaments again, it was not too uncommon for even the most successful tennis players to be riding off into the sunset to find some other avenue of pleasure to fill the void in their lives in their early thirties.

The ATP Champions Tour offers to fill that void. It gives the former pros that your mother remembers the name of, the chance to keep playing and entertaining crowds for many years to come, instead of being forced to just pick up coaching, punditry, or compulsive eating.

Xavier Malisse and Goran Ivanisevic at the net against Greg Rusedski and Tommy Haas at myWorld Champions Tennis
Old dogs, new tricks.

It culminates in the wildly entertaining (although "probably one of the most breathtaking tennis events in the world" might be a little overselling it) season finale now affectionately known as the myWorld (who?) Champions Tennis at the historic Royal Albert Hall, which as you all know is of synonymous with over the hill tennis players and absolutely nothing else of any significance.

These guys still seem young. They're the players I grew up with. They can't have been gone for that long, surely? It takes one glance at the programme to see that Juan-Carlos Ferrero has been retired seven years (and he's only a year older than Roger Federer), so I guess a lot of time has passed since the days of getting home from school and tuning into Wimbledon in the hope that Tim Henman might finally break through and knock Pete Sampras (okay, maybe it has been a while) off his perch, or Greg Rusedski might finally get his first serve in.

Marcos Baghdatis strikes a backhand at myWorld Champions Tennis
Old habits die hard.

And just like the Henman we all know and love, Tim couldn't even get through to the finals of the Champions Tennis. Instead it was to be Team Greg taking on Goran Ivanisevic's team (it just had to be Goran again, didn't it?) in a battle of randomly assembled former stars of varying talent and success.

What started off as a serious contest, with Ferrero defeating a man far too old to continue wearing a cap backwards, Tommy Haas in a high standard singles match soon descended into pantomime with a sprinkling of Harlem Globetrotters on top, upon the arrival of the doubles action.

Greg Rusedski lifts the myWorld Champions Tennis trophy at the Royal Albert Hall
Old trophy? Do they share it?

Who knew Xavier Malisse, a man with only one more Grand Slam semi final appearance to his name than me (and Greg Rusedski, for that matter) would be quite the comedian? I wasn't sure what to expect from the event, but teaming up with Ivanisevic proved to be a masterstroke. Not because they won (they didn't come close), but because they provided the most amount of entertainment in a tennis match I've seen in quite some time. It turns out that everyone loves trick shots.

Team Goran would go on to take on the role of the Washington Generals in this contest and succumb to a valiant defeat. Team Greg took home the spoils (who keeps the trophy?), perhaps in part to having someone who'd only just given up the professional circuit in Marcos Baghdatis on their team.

Exterior of the Royal Albert Hall covered in scaffolding
New facelift equals picturesque views outside.

Whilst I never got to see any of these players at the peak of their powers, I'm glad that there's still a platform for them to showcase their craft. They've stood their ground and we haven't seen already seen the last of them, which is great, because they're bloody entertaining. When somebody finally figures out how to beat any of the 'big three' in a five set match (sometime in the next 30 years) and their careers come to an end, I suspect that won't be the last we'll see of them either.

Useless information about Royal Albert Hall

Address: Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP
Capacity: 5,272
Pitch Type: Carpet
Ticket Price: £58.50
Programme: £5, 84 pages

myWorld Champions Tennis 2019 ticket

myWorld Champions Tennis 2019 programme