Some people or objects are just associated with something. When you think of the thing in question, this person or object is the first thing that comes to mind.
Ask any kid about cars, and they will mention a red, noisy one called Ferrari. When you talk about Pokémon, the cute, yellow mouse called Pikachu comes to mind.
Like that, when you talk about tennis, there is only one man who comes to mind. You can be a Djokovic, Nadal or Murray supporter, but this man is the common denominator.
The Swiss maestro is arguably the face of tennis, and his name is Roger Federer.
Federer and tennis are as synonymous as bread and butter. In the early 21st century, there hasn’t been anyone who has dominated the sport quite like he has. His total of 20 Men’s Singles Grand Slam titles, level with Rafael Nadal, is the most in tennis history.
Federer started playing the racquet and ball at the tender age of eight. He became Switzerland’s junior champion six years later. It was the start of an absolutely illustrious career. Indeed, it is not wrong to suggest he is one of the greatest sporting personalities ever.
Defeating a legend in Pete Sampras sent his stock flying, and in 2003, he won his first Grand Slam. From July 2003 to November 2005, he was unplayable, winning 24 straight finals, which is a modern record. If you want to see sporting domination, there it is in a nutshell.
After his tenth Grand Slam title, you could take one look at the sport and conclude that the Federer-Nadal rivalry one of the most gripping ones in sport at the time. In 2007, he bested Nadal in a nail-biter of a five-set final to win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title. He became the second male player after Björn Borg to do so. History-making just came naturally to him.
The arrival of Novak Djokovic made tennis have ‘the big 3’, and a trifecta of players were now at the top of their game. Federer has played both these stars many times, and provided some absolute classics.
Even if he has come up short many times, he has given every opponent he has faced a good run for their money. The way he does things is so effortless, and that’s his defining trait.
Classy, classy, everywhere
The Federer Express (Fed Ex, anyone?) is a versatile player who can play on any court. The surface doesn’t matter to him; he will deliver irrespective of the ground. During his younger days, his temperament and self-control were not up to the mark.
Federer today is one of the most well-liked personalities in tennis, and his on-court demeanour is class. His technique is amazing and is vital to his endurance and his knack for getting results.
More importantly, his ability to read the game and his opponents is world-class, and second to none.
Even off the court, he is a fantastic example for many. In addition to his playing ability, he is a great and gracious person. He is an active philanthropist, and the founder of the Roger Federer Foundation. The establishment helps impoverished children in the southern part of Africa, and has raised enormous funds.
Federer’s star power is unmatched in tennis, and indeed in sports. He has routinely been ranked in the top 10 highest-paid athletes in any sport. In 2020, he ranked first among all athletes with $100 million in endorsement income. He is one of the most marketable people in the world today, having endorsed brands like Rolex and Mercedes-Benz.
Tennis fans and pundits widely consider Federer to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Nobody can call your opinion wrong if you said he is the definitive greatest tennis player ever. Tennis.com listed him as the greatest male player of the Open Era.
Tennis was going through a lull, and people were losing interest in the sport. Federer led the revival, and the period after he burst onto the scene is called the Golden Age by many fans. His performances led to increased interest in tennis, and subsequently increased revenues across the sport.
Though Federer is rightfully considered as one of the greatest, the player in him doesn’t believe so. He thinks it is impossible to compare tennis players from bygone eras, noting that past champions paved the way for players like him. He in turn will pave the way for players taking to the court after him. Class on and off the pitch.
As King Roger plays in the twilight years of his career, he will wind it up sooner than later. It is impossible to suggest his powers are waning. Like true greats, he is still going strong, and even today, is one of the best in the world.
But when said retirement happens, we will saying goodbye not just to a player, but to an icon. It is not overstating to say he is the face of tennis. When he hangs up his racquet, he will leave a huge and irreplaceable void.
He made many fans fall in love with the sport. Nobody likes to see their idol call it a day, but he will have to one day. When that happens, let us celebrate the Swiss sensation’s G.O.A.T status and contributions to sport.
Let us also celebrate his impact on fans and lives in general. He has served (pardon the pun) fans with his performances and wins throughout his career. When he chooses to call it a day, fans should return his serve with respect and with honour.
No matter when he rides off into the sunset, it is safe to say his legacy will barely be affected. His status in the game will remain as legendary as it is. That is, like Ferrari and Pikachu, he will be the first person you think of when you think about tennis.