Wimbledon melts for Roger Federer
LONDON – Roger Federer returned to his second home. Wimbledon welcomed his favorite. For the first time as a retired tennis player, the top male champion of the third Grand Slam of the year visited the All England Club during The Championships.
In a brief and very sober tribute, the audience gave him a prolonged applause when he appeared in the Royal Box of Centre Court in his elegant style wearing a beige suit. His seat was reserved in the front row between his wife Mirka, and the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton. He was also accompanied by his parents, his manager Tony Godsick and his former coach Severin Luthi.
He was a spectator at the start of the title defense of Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina against Shelby Rogers, with the retractable roof closed on a rainy midday. He also stayed for Andy Murray’s debut.
On the giant screens in the arena, a video of her most memorable victories and defeats was shown. There was one record that generated laughter of tenderness and nostalgia. Federer, about 24 years old and already a Wimbledon champion, spoke of the wishes that can be fulfilled today in London: “I’m already looking forward to those days after retirement when I can come for tea time on the terrace”.
In 2023 he returned with the glamour that one of the best of all time deserves. Not like in December 2022, when he occasionally wanted to come to the AELTC without his membership card, and was refused in the entry by a guard. He recounted the hilarious anecdote on his friend Trevor Noah’s talk show, The Daily Show. “I was already panicking (about not being able to get in) and I said (to the woman at the gate), ‘Please believe me, I’ve won this tournament eight times!'” He finally gained entry without a credential through another door.
There were also compliments from younger players in the clip. “He’s an inspiration to my whole generation,” said North American Taylor Fritz; “Iconic,” added Jessica Pegula.
Federer continues to enjoy as much as he can of his post-tennis life. He has flirted with fashion and arts, he has filmed commercials as the advertising face of tourism in Switzerland, become one of the voices of Waze, and played with Coldplay.
Although, perhaps, that last is too much to say: he accompanied Chris Martin and the band during the song Don’t Panic by trying to keep the beat with a small maraca at their concert in Zurich.
“In 1996 we were five members. The fifth member did percussions. He was with us for three months, and then he said ‘screw this, I’m leaving to become the greatest tennis player of al time,” Martin joked before calling Federer on stage.
The Swiss showed that, as a musician, he plays great tennis. But whatever he does, wherever he goes, the crowd melts for him.