Fans on board: Federer took his die-hard followers to sail with him on a Swiss lake
The loyalty of the fan is thanked by the superstar so many times with a generalized “thank you all”. With physical distance from the court or from a stage. If the fan is lucky they may get an autograph or a photo. Maybe a piece of apparel or a collectible.
But Roger Federer is in many ways a different (former) tennis player. For his most loyal fans there was a top prize: an afternoon cruise on Lake Lucerne with Federer himself as host.
Around 280 fans of the former world number one from the fans4roger group received a unique invitation to enjoy a direct and more intimate contact with the man they idolize. Thus, devotees traveled from various corners of the world to live the experience organized by Federer’s team.
It was a kind of farewell that had been pending since Federer retired in September 2022. The fan club that was born in 2005 was intended to exist only during the Swiss player’s professional career. Thus, the organizers of the group wanted to invite Federer to a closing event. The circle of the eight-time Wimbledon champion replied that there would indeed be an event, but that the dynamics would be the other way around: the Swiss is the one who invites.
The meeting was kept secret until Federer himself posted photos on his social media. “We were a closed group, and known for not announcing everything loudly,” explained Doris Löffel, coordinator of the fan meetings to Swiss journalist Simon Graf, co-author of the book “The Roger Federer Effect.” The group required its members to pay an annual fee of 90 Swiss francs (to date, the same amount in euros) for access to this type of event and to the exclusive information channel on the website.
Graf says that all of Federer’s meetings with fans4roger people over the years – most of them during the Swiss Indoors Tournament – complied with a golden rule: cell phones had to be turned off.
The date of the event was confirmed in April, but not the activity, which remained a surprise until the very end. “We speculated for a long time about what it would be, but it wasn’t until we were at the pier in Lucerne that we knew it would be a boat trip. Roger got on later,” German fan Doris Kording told Tages-Angeizer.
The cruise set sail when everyone already had their cap signed by Federer. Then the boat stopped in Meggenhorn and the 20-time Grand Slam champion boarded with his parents Lynette and Robert. He sailed for four hours. He answered a few questions, had his picture taken with each of them by a professional photographer who would then send the photos to e-mails, and exchanged a few words with the fan on duty with a time limit to respect schedules. “If they took too long, I had to interrupt. But you know how Roger is, always so chatty, especially with those he’s known for a long time,” Löffel said.
“He just has fun with it. You can tell: he appreciates the time and money his fans have spent to see him play all over the world. He was relaxed and fun. He’s happy with his life now. I think the fans have a harder time than he does with the fact that he is no longer competing,” the German said.
Federer got off the cruise ship one stop early and let his fans share with each other for a couple more hours on board, in what was the last meeting before the group disolved. From the ground he pulled out his cell phone, stretched out his arm and took a selfie. The last record with their most unconditional fans.