Roger Federer recently spoke to Jonathan Heaf of the GQ Magazine on a variety of topics, including Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu's struggles on the big stage, the dominance of the Big 3, and Rafael Nadal's sleeveless tops.
A couple of months before she won the US Open, Emma Raducanu was in the news for a different reason altogether. The Brit was forced to retire midway through her fourth-round match at Wimbledon, as she struggled to breathe amid the new and scary stage she found herself on.
Naomi Osaka, meanwhile, has had her own troubles over the last few months. The Japanese, who has been suffering from depression since 2018, boycotted all press conferences at Roland Garros this year as she found it difficult to deal with the intense media scrutiny.
When Roger Federer was asked for his two cents on the problems of these two players, he claimed there is too much pressure on youngsters nowadays. The 40-year-old also stressed that it "hurts" to see them suffer.
"Yes, I think so (that there is too much pressure)," Federer said. "I was following Emma Raducanu's incredible run in Wimbledon and also Naomi Osaka these last few years – it's been amazing, both of their stories. But it hurts when you see what happens and when they don't feel well."
Roger Federer believes social media is partly to blame for the increasing amounts of pressure felt by youngsters today. The Swiss pointed out how social media was close to non-existent in his days, which is why such problems rarely occurred.
Federer also admitted that press conferences haven't evolved enough with time, which makes things difficult for athletes.
"The stress is so great," Federer said. "And I think a lot has to be down to social media. The first 10 years of my life there was no social media, maybe I had just a website, then the next 10 years social media was everywhere."
"Also, in regards to this, the press situation does need to be reconsidered," he added. "I think I’m one of the athletes who’s done the most press – ever! And I agree that it's always the same. Always."
Roger Federer suggested that players, journalists and tournament organizers should all come together and find a middle ground on how press conferences can be tailored to suit everyone's needs.
"I think players, the tournaments, journalists, we need to sit down together in a room and go, 'OK, what would work for you and what works for us...'. We need a revolution," Federer continued. "Or at least an evolution of where we are today. I think we do need to help, coach and mentor the younger generation more."
According to Roger Federer, it is extremely challenging to handle negativity on social media. The 40-year-old believes he would have been clueless on that front if such platforms existed in his early years on tour.
Federer went on to assert that players must be allowed to be more human, especially when doing a press conference after a defeat.
"I can’t imagine going through the beginning of my career with social media; I have no clue how I would have handled it," the Swiss said. "For every 10 nice comments there’s always one negative comment and, of course, that is the one you focus on. It's a horrible situation. Even when I am feeling down I know I need to act a certain way in front of the world's press. We need to remember that tennis players are athletes and professionals, but we are also human too."
"It's amazing, to be honest, that all three of us are at 20 Grand Slams" - Roger Federer
After winning his 20th Major at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic had said that he expects himself, Federer, and Nadal to keep fighting to add more Slams to their tally.
"It means that none of us three will stop [on 20]! That's what it means," Novak Djokovic had said with a smile on his face.
Roger Federer was asked to give his thoughts on this comment during his conversation with GQ. The Swiss on his part believes that Djokovic said these words in an adrenaline rush, given that he had just achieved a historic milestone.
Federer acknowledged that Djokovic had good intentions when saying what he said, but pointed out that the Serb may not have been fully aware of his or Nadal's physical condition.
"Well, look, he obviously was speaking for himself: he’s on adrenaline when he's saying that and he doesn't know where I am or where Rafael is. But he means well, obviously," Federer said.
The 40-year-old went on to heap praise on Djokovic's season and expressed his curiosity to see what his, Nadal's and Djokovic's careers end up looking like.
"I think his year again has been phenomenal," Federer added. "And it's going to be very interesting to see, for all three of us, how our careers continue. I mean, it's amazing, to be honest, that all three of us are at 20 Grand Slams."
Roger Federer was then asked if he sees someone usurping the Big 3 from their spot in the near future. The World No. 9 responded in the affirmative, and explained that players are a lot more versatile now than before - meaning they can win Slams on multiple surfaces.
"I think yes," Federer said. "I feel like nowadays – and this is not to take anything away from Rafa, Novak or myself, for that matter – but, you know, I feel like it's easier to dominate through the different surfaces nowadays. Back in the day, yes, we did have three grass-court events, but maybe the margins were slimmer."
The Swiss maestro believes Bjorn Borg - a multiple Slam champion on clay and grass - was an anomaly, and that versatility was a difficult attribute to find in that generation. Federer also believes that players nowadays are more driven by their urge to break records, which makes him feel that the Slam record will be surpassed in the future.
"I feel like there were hardcourt players, claycourt players and there weren’t so many players who could play on all surfaces," Federer said. "Sure, [Bjorn] Borg did it, but things were different. Players weren't chasing one Slam after another like they are today and record after record. Nowadays such a strategy is much more part of your career. So, yes, a new, incredible player will, I believe, break our run of 20 Grand Slams eventually – but not overnight!"
Roger Federer says he misses Rafael Nadal's sleeveless shirts
Roger Federer and Jonathan Heaf also discussed tennis apparel during a segment of the interview. At one point, Heaf mentioned that he misses the denim shorts that Andre Agassi used to sport.
Federer responded by saying he misses Agassi's iconic shorts, as well as Rafael Nadal's sleeveless tops. The Swiss went on to assert that players should be free to wear what they please.
"Me too! I mean no one needs to look the same anymore," Federer said. "I miss Rafa's sleeveless tennis shirts, but I guess we all evolve."