Most of us have childhood memories of an old person who was at least 75 years older than us, often even within our own family. If you assume this person also knew someobdy that old in his or her childhood, you can play a game of "I knew someone who knew someone who knew someone...." and get back to any person who lived 2000 years ago (a Roman emperor for example) in about 27 steps. Some may argue this is exaggerated because people didn’t live nearly as long on average before the 20th century. But the key is "on average". At any point, you can be pretty sure there were some people around with longevous genes. So give or take a few steps. If you view it that way, it doesn’t look so incredibly far back anymore. Thinking about tennis now, the question is: How fast can you get from the present to the times of Tilden with players who played each other across generations, and where the matches were still competitive (not complete mismatches)? Here is an example. Nadal (and Federer) at the age of about 19 played Agassi at 32 and 36 respectively. Agassi was still competitive enough to win a set or two off Nadal as late as 2005-2006. Then Agassi at 18-19 played Connors twice at 38-39. Connors didn't win the matches but won some sets. So still competitive. Then Connors at 18-19 played Gonzalez at 43-44, still competitive. Gonzalez won one of those matches. Then Gonzalez at about 26 played (and lost to) Budge at 39 (1954). Then Budge at about 26 played a number of matches with Tilden at 48 (in 1941). Budge won most of them, but Tilden still managed to win a few. And that’s it. So we got from the present all the way to Bill Tilden, whose prime was in the early 1920s, in only 6 steps with reasonably competitive play between all the links. 9 decades with six players. Nadal (and Federer) – Agassi – Connors – Gonzalez – Budge -- Tilden I wonder if other similar or even shorter sequences can be made. Or further back than Tilden. This is something to keep in mind when one is tempted to think of current players as nearly extra-galactic beings, light years ahead of players just a few decades ago.