Roger Federer, No.2 in the ATP world tennis rankings, is the favourite to win Wimbledon, which starts on Monday. The 36-year-old Swiss insists it's his love of family that continues to drive his competitive spirit.
The "King of Green" enters the Grand Slam tournament having missed the clay court season to be fresh for the grass. Federer's record eighth Wimbledon men's singles triumph in 2017, and his 20 grand slam singles titles, the most in history for a male player, confirmed his place as not only the greatest tennis player of all time but also one of the best athletes.
Crying for joy
Moments after his most recent Wimbledon victory, he wept when he found out that his twin sons, Leo and Lennart had unexpectedly been courtside alongside twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, his wife Mirka, mother Lynette, father Robert and sister Diana.
In January 2018, while competing in the Australian Open, he told a local TV channel how he felt about his wife, former tennis player Mirka Vavrinec, whom he married in 2009. "Family was something I always wanted when I got together with Mirka, way back when in Sydney at the Olympics in 2000. And my whole life changed completely and it's the best thing that ever happened to me." He also expresses his devotion to Mirka in this interview with Swiss public television, SRF.
Federer says it's also important for him to feel the support of his parents, who introduced him to tennis. Robert Federer says his son inherited his athletic gifts from his mum. Born in Switzerland, Robert moved to South Africa when he was in his 20s, where he met Lynette, who grew up in Johannesburg and was a multi-sport star. She played field hockey at a high level but ultimately had to give up due to leg injuries.
Robert and Lynette married in 1973 and Roger was born on August 8, 1981. They frequently played tennis with their son, and it was clear from an early age that he was a gifted player. But Federer says they did not force him to become a professional - it was his choice.
These days, Federer is famous for his calmness on the court, but as a child he could be temperamental. Robert once walked off the court during a match with his son because Roger was being hot-headed. The incident obviously taught Roger that his behaviour on court was just as important as his technique. Lynette has been quoted as saying that she and Robert were never angry with him for losing, only ever for his bad behaviour.
In 2003, the Roger Federer Foundation was set up, which helps fund education and sports projects in countries with high child mortality rates. Robert Federer manages foundation matters and his son’s fan mail. In this interview with SRF, Roger praises his parents for having never been pushy, and for always being interested in his life.
Federer says he has no intention of pressuring his own children into playing tennis. But one thing’s for sure, he has been an ambassador for the sport and helped to revive interest in it among the younger generation.