Roger Federer – Spoilt Brat to Professional Tennis Player
Roger Federer is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, an iconic figure both on and off the courts and has proved his dominance with 20 grand slams and 97 career Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) titles. At the age of 36 he was the world’s oldest player in more than 40 years to win a grand slam. In 2015 he was named the most marketable sports person by the London School of Marketing and was named by Forbes as the highest earning tennis player off court for nine consecutive years from 2007 to 2015. He has won an estimated $104 million* in prize money yet his significant income has been through lucrative endorsements from Nike, Credit Suisse, Rolex, Mercedes and Moet and Chandon with the majority of these sponsors supporting Federer for a decade or more.
Federer is adored by fans world-wide, highly respected by his peers, yet this was not always the case. As a young player Federer was a far cry from the warm, charismatic, charming professional tennis pro we see on the courts today. His early years were fuelled by tantrums, racket throwing and a bad attitude on the court. There was a turning point in Federer’s career, which would eventually lead him to immense financial success and dominance on the courts.
The Early Years
Born in 1981 in Switzerland Federer was born into an affluent family, mother Lynette was South African, father Robert was Swiss and has one sister Diana. At the age of eight Federer started playing tennis and discovered that he had a passion for the sport. Even at an early age Federer was resolute to be the best player in the world. He showed great promise as a sportsman but his antics on the court were far from impressive. He often kicked and threw his racket on the court; his parents became increasingly concerned with his on court behaviour, making every to intervene, which further aggravated Federer.
The Wake up Call
Federer’s coach Peter Carter realised his potential so in addition to coaching, also taught Federer how to be courteous. Carter trained Federer from the ages of nine to eighteen then just as Federer was evolving, Carter died in a tragic car accident whilst on safari in 2002; a week before Federer turned twenty one leaving Federer utterly devastated.
The tragedy was the wakeup call for Federer who soon afterwards focused his efforts on advancing his tennis career. He acknowledged his past behaviours had been inappropriate directing his energies to overcome his aggression. The unruly spoilt brat had turned a corner; he managed to keep his behaviour in check and has successfully become a highly respected grand slam champion. Federer later went on to win Wimbledon in 2003 and was the first Swiss man to win a grand slam singles title, later conquering three grand slams the following year.
“I enjoyed the position I was in as a tennis player. I was to blame when I lost. I was to blame when I won. And I really like that because I played soccer a lot too, and I couldn’t stand it when I had to blame it on the goalkeeper.” Roger Federer
In 2001, Federer caused a sensation at Wimbledon when he beat Pete Sampras, the reigning singles champion in the fourth round. Federer was ranked world number two in 2004 and that same year he won the US Open, the Australian Open, ATP Masters and retained the Wimbledon singles title. At the start of 2005, Federer was ranked number one and for the third consecutive year he retained the Wimbledon singles title. Federer was ranked number one from 2004 to 2008 and in 2009 he beat Robin Soderling to win the French Open and complete his career grand slam. His career continued to soar, winning a string of grand slams, retaining the number one spot for 302 weeks.
In 2013 Federer was knocked out of the singles competition in the second round by Sergiy Stakhorsky who was ranked 116th at the time. He continued to struggle on the court, his confidence having taking a battering, he acknowledged his poor performances and injuries but despite the setbacks, Federer persevered and in 2017 was back on top of his game setting a new record winning his eighth Wimbledon title. In 2018 Federer defeated Cilic in five sets extending his winning performance to a staggering twenty grand slam championships.
“What I think I’ve been able to do well over the years is play with pain, play with problems, play in all sorts of conditions.” Roger Federer
Throughout Federer’s career he was never always the winner but he worked hard, powered through the setbacks, clutched at hope and never underestimated his abilities, determined to be and do his best he conquered his dream.
Check out the video on Federer by Born Realist