Following his win at the Australian Open at the start of the year, Roger Federer had said he had “partied like a rock star” and the celebrations were at it again following his Wimbledon triumph on Sunday – a record eighth Wimbledon title which took his career Grand Slam tally to 19.
Sitting proudly alongside his favourite trophy – one that he was reunited with after five years – he spoke to members of the press at a near-deserted Wimbledon, Federer and tried to recall the celebrations from Sunday night. “My head’s ringing, I don’t know what I did last night. I drank too many different types of drinks I guess. After the ball we went to, I guess it was a bar, with 30 or 40 friends and had a great time. I got to bed about five and woke up not feeling too good,” he said.
“I had an amazing amount of friends and family who came from all over the world to support me. There was almost 80 of us celebrating. That was a beautiful moment, celebrating away from the press and the world watching for about an hour,” he added.
Federer has now taken his Wimbledon tally to eight and gone past Pete Sampras and William Renshaw – both of them had won seven. And Federer recalled his contest in 2001 against Sampras where the Swiss had announced himself on the big stage. “It’s very special but it’s boderline strange for me because he (Sampras) will always be my hero. Pete is still my guy. After our match in 2001, there is no way I would have thought I could surpass him, I never thought that would be possible in my wildest dream.”
“Yesterday was another an incredible day for me here at Wimbledon. Wimbledon has been too kind, too nice to me all these years. To be the record holder is so special. Pete remains my hero for life, of course.”
With 19 Grand Slams in the bag, the target would be reaching 20 or perhaps even a 10th Wimbledon title but Federer said he had learned to not look to far ahead. In 2016, he took six months out to allow his knee injury to heal. He didn’t play a single competitive match following his Wimbledon semi-finals loss to Milos Raonic. “The target now is to enjoy being Wimbledon champion,” he said. “I haven’t set a sight on a number of grand slams; I was very content at 17, that was a wonderful number. So was 18, and now 19 is great. I think now it’s about enjoying myself, staying healthy and playing for titles.”
With Federer’s Wimbledon win, the hegemony enjoyed by the ‘big four’ has continued – at least at Wimbledon. No player outside of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have won the Wimbledon title since 2003. Federer said some of them needed to show a bit more ambition if they wanted to break the dominance. “It’s frightening to me at this level that when I look at the stats that the guy I’m going to face has played 2 percent serve and volley points in the championship,” Federer said. “I wish we would see more players, more coaches, taking chances at the net because good things do happen. A slugfest from the baseline with Andy Murray, Niko Djokovic or Rafa? Good luck if you are 50th in the world. The young guys could choose not to play that way, but you can be sucked into a mode where you don’t want to attack. Since mine and Rafa’s generation the next one hasn’t been strong enough to push all of us out really.” he said. “So that’s helpful for us to be able to keep hanging around.”
The race for No 1 has been split wide open following Murray and Djokovic’s exits in the quarterfinals and Federer winning the title. It has taken Federer to World No 3 with Murray at the top followed by Nadal. Federer hopes he finishes the year as number one while predicting a two-horse race with the Spaniard. “I think it’s going to be a three or four-way race or two-way race between me and Rafa Nadal. I hope it’s me and not Rafa because it means a lot to me to get back to number one.”
With his 36th birthday just three weeks away, Federer was asked what keeps him going and to keep playing despite achieving all that one could achieve in their career. He stated that he drew inspiration from legends from other sports. “I get inspired in a big way by the likes of Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Valentino Rossi or Michael Schumacher, guys who did things for a very long time at the highest of levels.”
“I would marvel at what they did when I was younger. I couldn’t understand how they would get ready, day in, day out, practice, giving it 100%. I struggled with that in a big way when I was younger.”
“Eventually I have found my way to see what is possible and how to motivate myself. It’s been really important in my life to be surrounded by inspiring figures. I take it mostly from sporting legends,” he added.