The greatest of all time – Roger Federer is not simply an established name in tennis; he’s an emotion. Not only to his fans but to everyone who has been a tennis or a sports enthusiast. He is one man army that has evolved leaps and bounds to be one of the leading tennis stars with 20 Grand slam titles in his lap.
When on September 15, 2022, Roger announced he would retire from the game of competitive tennis – the entire world started their emotional journey to digest the news as well as pay tribute to the tennis legend on social media and by being present at the last match for Roger at the Laver Cup in London O2. The emotional farewell in that jam-packed O2 arena with close to 17,500 fans with his friends, peers and family was not to be missed.
While his competitive journey has come to a rather emotional end, let’s dive deeper into how he became one of the greatest sports players in history, building an impeccable legacy like never before for a tennis player.
Read more: Indian medal winners at Commonwealth Games, 2022
From ball boy to a tennis legend..
The Swiss maestro was born in 1981 in Basel, Switzerland, to parents who played Tennis as their hobby.
Young Federer started as a ball boy in his hometown of Basel and became one of the greatest tennis players.
Roger won the Junior’s Wimbledon in 1998 and his first major men’s singles title at The Championships in 2003 when he was 21. In his career spanning for over two decades, Roger has won 1251 matches out of 1526 played, 103 career titles and finished five times as year-end no. 1 with a total of 310 weeks at No. 1 – which includes the record of 267 consecutive weeks of staying at No. 1. What truly separates Roger, along with his biggest rivals and friends – Nadal and Djokovic – collectively known as the big three – is their consistency.
His stockpile of indelible achievements:
-20 major Grand Slam titles
-103 singles titles
– 6 Nitto ATP Finals
– 28 Masters 1000s
– No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking for 310 weeks
Grand Slam Titles:
Australian Open – Champion in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, and 2018
Roland Garros – Champion in 2009
Wimbledon – Champion in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2017
US Open – Champion in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008
Also read: Rise of responsible luxury
At the peak of his career, if you look at his statistics, it won’t take long to realize how unbeatable he was at his game. From 2003 to 2009, Roger made 21 significant singles finals out of 28. During this same time, he won three of the four majors and the ATP finals in 2004, 2006 and 2007. And if this wasn’t enough – this is when he won five consecutive titles at both Wimbledon and US open.
Roger was as unbeatable as it gets for 41 matches between 2006 to 2007.
Roger is known to have one of the best serves. Many of his opponent players have mentioned that his serve is one of the hardest to predict. His game has often been described with adjectives like ‘unbelievable’, ‘gracefulness’, ‘magical’, ‘elegant’, ‘effortless’ and so on.
Another unique asset for Roger has been his footwork and speed. He makes it look effortless. Often his grace, grit and artistic footwork are compared to that of a ‘ballet star’ and are further noted by journalists as Roger glides and dances away in court.
While Tennis is a competitive sport with solid wins and match points, Roger has always been known to maintain his calm attitude and cool composure – both on and off the field, proving himself to be a gentleman even when he loses a match. While that being said, Roger came close to winning his 21st Grand Slam in 2019 against Djokovic, but Djokovic’s relentless game pushed Roger to experience one of his most frustrating moments in life.
Foster Wallace has called watching Roger play a ‘religious experience.’
Tennis legend Jimmy Connors best describes his versatile play as – ‘In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard-court specialist..or you’re a Roger Federer’
An all-court, all-around player, Roger will be known for his speed, fluid style of play and exceptional shot-making.
Also read: How Emirates is shaping ultra-luxury experiences in air travel.
Roger’s brand partnerships/sponsors
What started as a 5-year endorsement deal ended in a multi-year contract that continues to this date. Today, Rolex and Roger are names taken in one breath. Rolex, a luxury and iconic brand, has been in a long-term partnership with Roger, said in one of their advertisements –
‘Number won’t show that this man plays tennis more beautifully than anyone before. They won’t show that this man is the all-time most revered athlete in the world for his grace and elegance on and off the court.’
Roger and Benz joined hands in 2008 to focus exclusively on the Chinese market for three years. The deal was extended in 2011 to target the world and is currently renewed again to end in 2027.
Other major players (brands) that have backed Roger for over 5-10 years are Lindt, Moet & Chandon, Credit Suisse, and Barilla, among others. What this truly reflects is how powerful Roger’s name has been for brands to continue with not simply renewing the deal but renewing it was decade-long partnerships.
He is not simply the icon of Tennis, winning the Sportsmanship Award for a record 13 times and the ATP Fans’ Favorite award for 19 consecutive years – but also is one of the most famous athletes in the world who has won Laureus World Sportsman of the year award for a record of 5 times.
Also read: How is India empowering its sports talent?
Media, journalists and writers love Roger
Roger has inspired many Tennis players with his excellence and greatness; not simply players, his demeanour has elicited paeans from tennis legends, journalists and writers.
-David Foster Wallace has called Roger a ‘genius, or mutant, or avatar’.
-Gareth Andrews said ‘to describe how Federer plays Tennis is like trying to explain how Rudolf Nureyev danced or Jascha Heifetz played the violin. Common words or images do none of them justice.
–Tracy Austin aptly said it – ‘a symphony in tennis whites’ or, as others described – ‘a poetry in motion
Tennis legends like Borg and Billie Jean King have remarked that Roger is the most complete player.
With his fearless mindset throughout his career, he is one to believe that it does not matter if you lose the point, but you have to take risks.
Federer announced his retirement to the world via his social media channels, and in his letter and note, he said, ‘When my love of Tennis started, I was a ball kid in my hometown of Basel. I used to watch players with a sense of wonder. They were like giants to me, and I began to dream. My dreams led me to work harder and believe in myself. Some success brought me confidence, and I was on my way to the incredible journey that has led to this day. So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart to everyone worldwide who has helped make the dreams of a young Swiss ball kid come true.
With his wife, their four kids and his parents by his side, Roger Federer bid a tearful adieu to his professional tennis career at Laver Cup, London.
Thank you, Roger.