“If you poll the top 500 tennis guys in the world, about 499 are going to say Roger. The only one who won’t is Roger himself because he’s too nice about it,” former American tennis pro James Blake once said about the Swiss Maestro.
With 21 majors to his name and clearly no sign of slowing down in his second coming, Federer is arguably the greatest of all time. But what makes him great-er is this niceness that everyone who’s been around him keeps talking about. Minus a couple of event organisers (out of the thousands that Roger has participated in), people literally refer to him with a sense of reverence.
And why not? You watch his interviews, his interactions with the press, his tear-jerking love story, his behaviour with the fans and how he maintains a healthy balance between everything. Former Australian cricketing legend, Shane Warne once said that the only person on grass better than Roger Federer is Bob Marley.
While that quote might have been inserted here purely because it was cool, here are five reasons that make Roger Federer, who turns 37 this week, the one and the only.
He made a guy rise from a wheelchair
Yes, you read that right. It would have earned him at least one temple had he belonged to India, but unfortunately the Swiss only applauded. Such a waste.
Anyway, it was the Australian Open in 2016 and ‘Saint Federer’ — as he is known by the ones in sport who are not fond of the ‘perfect Federer’ — chased down a shot from Novak Djokovic in a manner that had men in wheelchairs stand on their feet. Is there anything he can’t do!
Makes crying acceptable
‘Real men don’t cry,’ is the stupid axiom people from my generation have been raised up imbibing. But the truth is that everyone is real and everyone can cry. It’s completely natural and should be completely acceptable.
And who better than the Saint himself to humanise crying. Federer is hardly the one to control emotions on court and has been seen breaking into tears of both grief and joy on court — helping the cause for mental health awareness and better sensitivity.
Make us cry with his goodness
If you haven’t cried with Federer, this bit of pure godliness will surely leave you with a lump in the throat.
Every year, at the Australian Open, behind Rodger Federer’s coach (earlier Edberg and now Ljubicic), sits an elderly couple.
There is a story to this couple, and it shows what a good human being Federer is. The couple, as Federer’s die-hard fans would know, are Bob and Diana Carter, the parents of his first international coach, the Australian Peter Carter.
Federer was just nine when Carter took him under his wing. In 2002, in a terrible tragedy, Carter died in a car accident while on a vacation with his wife. He was only 37 years of age.
The story goes that Federer (then 21) was so affected by his coach’s death, he ran through the streets of Toronto (where he was playing that day), bawling his heart out.
Every year since 2005, Federer’s team sends an all-expenses paid itinerary to the Adelaide-based couple – first-class air tickets, bookings in the same hotel as Federer, food, winner’s parties and even commiseration parties in Melbourne. And they sit in Federer’s box at the Rod Laver Arena, supporting him as if he were their son.
— Sachin Kalbag, the editor of The Hindu
Made a tennis team of his own
How many couples do you know who’ve given birth to two sets of twins? Mirka and Roger Federer have been blessed with two girl twins — Myla Rose and Charlene Reva — and younger boy twins — Leo and Lenny.
And while he has made it known that his children won’t be forced into tennis, the Federer household can rule the circuit in all or either of the men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles or mixed doubles categories.
Fun fact: Roger’s sister Diana also has a set of twins — one boy and a girl. Their grandmother is also a twin, something that obviously runs in the family.
Makes Sachin look smaller
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) July 10, 2018
No, not just physically, but in stature as well. This could offend a bunch of Indians (because some of our compatriots abused Maria Sharapova when she said she didn’t know Tendulkar), but that won’t change the truth.
Sachin Tendulkar has been a shadow of his cricketer self post retirement and has hardly given back to the sports and fans that made him who he is today. We hope Federer doesn’t go down the same route, and continues to remain his lovable, charming self even after he hangs up his boots.
Till then, happy birthday GOAT! Never change.