Interview with Roger in German newspaper WELT AM SONNTAG from June 23th, 2019
„Just to bluffen!“
Roger Federer reveals how he manages it to keep thinking young on the tenniscourt at 37 and which part his children are playing in this
By Adrian Rehling
WELT AM SONNTAG, June 23th, 2019
There has been said so much about the gifted tennisplayer Roger Federer. 20 times Grand Slam Champion, over 1200 won matches. The person after this success is 37 years old, 4 times father of 2 pairs of twins and married to Mirka since 2009. In this interview with WELT AM SONNTAG he talks about happiness, inspiration and a late vocation.
WELT AM SONNTAG: Mr. Federer, what are you doing on August 2nd, 2020?
Roger Federer (laughing): Do I have a hangover there after the 1st August party in Switzerland?
You decide. Do you need help?
On this day is the Olympic final in Tokyo.
I have no idea if I‘m going to play there. There are certain criteria for the qualification. I would need a wildcard to participate there. Quite frankly? It is still a long way off. But of course I would like to be there in the final. Absolutely.
It is actually your strength to foresee certain things. You once described this as one of your biggest advantages: To feel what your opponent is doing next. Does this also help you in your daily life?
It helps with my kids to a certain degree to be able to anticipate. Even though you still often get surprised then (laughs). With kids you have big emotions playing a part. But as a tennisplayer or athlete in general you always have to anticipate as a perfect preparation is already half the way to success. When I today look ahead and plan it is mainly for my family. My wife, my kids. And just afterwards comes my game, my body, my health.
Can you concretise this?
The question is: What kind of stress can I allow to myself? Travelling, the many matches. You should always have a bit of flexibility of course which keeps the excitement going. When I plan something ahead it‘s usually the fix dates. That way many things are better to organize. When everything is on stand-by you never really reach the end and never get ready.
Would you say that you had lots of luck in your life?
I have this feeling, of course. You can say that the harder you practice the more luck you can get on your side. Or when you work professionally you can influence the luck a little bit. That never anything really terrible happined to me physically is luck for sure. For example I could have had a cruciate ligament rupture early in my career or had a nasty fall at skiing. Beside that I was lucky to have the parents I have. And that I grow up in Switzerland.
If I would have been born in another, maybe poorer country in the world the chances wouldn‘t have been the same for me. And was it luck that I met Mirka so early in my life? I would say yes, But at the same time I also fell in love with her and have maybe influenced the luck a little bit. Everything has to play together in order to have success. Of course we can control many things ourselves over a short period of time but when you think longer-term everything has to fit.
Is there someone who has especially inspired you?
There have always been people who have been especially close to me. For example my coaches who are big brothers for me to a certain degree. They said to me: „I once did this, that was a mistake. Better don‘t do it.“ The people around me helped me as a person, above all Mirka and my parents. But also all the friends I have. I always tried to stay a child. But at the same time to grow up quickly. Maybe not as early as Martina Hingis or Rafael Nadal.
Do you still remember the beginning of your career?
At first I still had enormous respect towards the media and thought what the people would think about me. But I got used to it very quickly. I was also shy towards girls, red carpets have caused an unpleasant feeling inside me. I had to learn that very fast. And I think that it is my biggest strength: That I don‘t have to learn that kind of things numerous times but understand it rather quickly.
You don‘t seem to age at all. How do you do this?
I am shocked that more than 20 years of life on the tour are over. It makes me actually a little bit sad because I had a great time. But fortunately it isn‘t over yet. Everything really went by quickly or as you say: „Time flies when you are having fun.“ It was truly an incredible process which made a lot of fun so far. I think as an athlete you have to stay young in the head.
What has changed with age?
With age you go more often for safety, for statistic. You think about maybe playing another one safely as this also leads to the goal. You don‘t have to lose your risk appetite though, to think young. Just bluffen sometimes or try something come hell or high water. I always try to remember this and not to play the 08/15 game. Sometimes I have to do this of course. Then you win in order to win and it doesn‘t always have to look beautiful. In the next match things already get more easier then.
Which part in staying young have your kids?
A big one. You really go back then into your own youth. As a father you really want to give them something on their way which you also experienced. For example I always had lots of fun going for a walk in the wood. No matter what you do you want to take the kids with you on the trip. And that keeps me very young. It is a great feeling to be on the tour together with my family, That is something which I never thought would have happened. In my vision I was a tennisplayer, had a coach, family and lifted a trophy. Today I have so much more which surrounds me. With my foundation, friends, family – you see everything from a totally different perspective. It is great that I had this two careers: The one before the kids and now the one with the kids.
What will you do when you one day won‘t hold the racket anymore in your hand?
What I really wish is that I will be more flexible when everything is over one day. That I decide: How often and where do I want to travel with my family? That I have time for my friends. That I can say: You know what, in 2 months on the Monday evening we will have a cool dinner. I can‘t decide that today as everything is rather in a stand-by-modus. That isn‘t a problem at all but sometimes I would like to have it differently.
Do we see you on July 14th in Wimbledon with the trophy?
That would be wonderful of course. When there has been a moment in my career where I have been the most disappointed it was last year in Wimbledon. The loss against Kevin Anderson, after I already had MP. That was a horror scenario for me as Wimbledon is every year my main goal. Back then even my family had problems to cheer me up. I just went on my room, lay on the bed and thought: This is tough. But that‘s a part of it. And he played good. I had to accept it. When you miss your goal you have to question yourself – and then it even has to hurt a bit. But Wimbledon is and stays the big goal. I am well prepared and therefore I travel to Wimbledon this time with a big confidence.