Roger Federer beat Marin Cilic in the Wimbledon 2017 men’s singles final on Sunday and lifted a record eighth title. The Swiss maestro now has 19 Grand Slams – eight Wimbledon, five US Open, five Australian Open and one French Open – in his cabinet. After his dominating run in the 2017 edition of Wimbledon, here’s a look at some rare facts:
1. He represents Switzerland in tennis, but also holds South African citizenship. His father is Swiss but his mother is South African.
2. He started playing tennis at the age of six. Uptil the age of twelve, however, many felt he might opt for football as he was equally gifted at that sport. In the end, he opted for tennis. He supports Swiss club FC Basel and Italian club AS Roma in football
3. He eats pretty much everything these days, but until the age of sixteen, Federer was a vegetarian. Not for ethical issues, but for those of taste. Countryman Marc Rosset is believed to have got him to the non-vegetarian side.
4. As a young player, he was inspired by Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker, both Wimbledon legends in their own right. Edberg would go on to coach Federer for two years (2014-15).
5. His first Wimbledon title did not come in 2003 as many think. He won the boys’ title there in 1998, five years earlier!
6. Guess what the tournament organisers at the Swiss Open at Gstaad gave Federer after he had won his first Wimbledon title waaaay back in 2003? A cow. Federer was delighted to accept it. He called it “Juliette.” He won another cow from them in 2013. This one was named “Desiree.”
7. In Switzerland, military service is compulsory for all citizens. Federer was however discharged his military service obligation. No, not because he was considered a special case, but because he suffered from a back problem!
8. He met his wife, then Miroslava (“Mirka”) Vavrinec, at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. She was a tennis player too. She retired from the sport in 2002 because of a persistent foot injury. They were married in 2009. Incidentally, Mirka was spotted as a potential tennis player by none other than Wimbledon legend, Martina Navratilova.
9. The Federer family might look like a clone factory – Roger and Mirka have two sets of identical twins – two girls, Charlene Riva and Myla Rose, born in 2009, and two boys, Leo and Lennart, born in 2014.
10. He has a deep interest in philanthropy. He established the Tiger Federer Foundation in 2003 to help disadvantaged children get access to sports and education. He has also undertaken work to raise money for victims of various disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean earthquake and the Haiti earthquake.
11. In 2013, he met Beatriz Tinoco, a 17-year-old cancer survivor, at Wimbledon as part of a campaign by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was only required to meet her, shake her hand and give an autograph. But he instead played tennis with her, took her out to Centre Court, made her meet other players and his own training staff, and spent a good portion of the day with her, allowing her to watch his press conference too. At the end of it all, a stunned Beatriz moved to tears. And so was he. Awww…
12. Given a choice on going on a vacation, he would prefer to go to the Maldives, Dubai, or of course, the Swiss mountains. He is also partial to going yachting in France.
13. He loves swimming and by all accounts is pretty much a family man, preferring to spend his free time with his wife and children.
14. He was featured on a special edition stamp in 2007 and has a street in Switzerland named after him – Allee Roger Federer in Biel.
15. He plays the piano. Predictable, eh? Wait for the next point.
16. His favourite music? He loves listening to hard rock band ACDC and Lenny Kravitz. Some even say that listening to ACDC is part of his pre-match preparation! You would have thought someone like him would be listening to jazz or Beethoven!
17. He claims to be a lousy singer, but if asked to sing on Karaoke, would in all probability end up singing Lenny Kravitz’s Fly Away.
18. His current public relations manager is his wife! And she is also perhaps his number one supporter. So much so that countryman Stan Wawrinka once complained to an umpire about her heckling him during a match against (of course) her husband!
19. No one is clear about Federer’s style of play as he is able to compete from the back of the court as well as at the net, without being a serve and volley specialist or a baseliner. Tennis legend Jimmy Connors summed it up aptly: “In an era of specialists, you are either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, a hard court specialist…or you are Roger Federer.”