The Swiss third seed recovered from a sluggish start to dominate the match and return to the top of the world rankings, ending Murray’s hopes of becoming the first British man to win the title on home soil for 76 years.
Murray started well, taking the first set and dictating the second until Federer conjured a brilliant break of serve out of the blue in the 12th game to clinch it.
Rain halted the match for 40 minutes early in the third set and when the players returned under the closed roof on Centre Court Federer took control.
He made the decisive break in a marathon sixth game and broke for 3-2 in the fourth set before clinching victory on his second match point in three hours 24 minutes.
The Swiss will return to the top of the world rankings after claiming his 17th grand slam crown and ending Murray’s hopes of becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon for 76 years.
Federer is now 17-7 in Grand Slam finals, including 7-1 at Wimbledon.
Besides Sampras, 1880s player William Renshaw also won seven Wimbledon titles, but he did it at a time when the defending champion was given a bye into the following year’s final.
Britain has been waiting 76 years for a homegrown men’s champion at the All England Club, and the expectations on Murray were huge. Thousands of fans watched the match on a huge screen on “Murray Mount,” but left the grounds still waiting for a British winner.
Inside the stadium, Prince William’s wife, Kate, sat in the Royal Box along with David Beckham, British Prime Minister David Cameron and a slew of former Wimbledon champions.
Many of them left a bit disappointed as well.