A source of inspiration
I was 10 years old when I started watching lawn tennis, and was immediately bowled over by the sheer pace, energy, accuracy and emotion in the game. More than that though, I was awestruck by the personalities carrying the game on their shoulders and playing it in such formidable spirit witnessed nowhere in the other sports which I watched like football, cricket, badminton, etc.
Having developed interest in tennis, I started following and gaining knowledge about the game. The play of the 100th seed was the best according to me until I asked my father who is the number 1 ranked player in the world, to which he replied “Roger Federer”.
That was it ! I watched his play at Wimbledon and really couldn’t stop admiring this personality. His silky smooth movement, flawless serve, unreachable powerful forehand, elegant backhand, amazing footwork – all of it was pretty amazing. I evebn started playing tennis because of him; he was undoubtedly my role model. I followed his career on and off the tennis court and learned things about him that really made me a better person in life.
There is a feeling of joy in each stroke that Federer plays and a feeling of excitement in each thing he does whether it is giving an interview, doing a press conference, practising on court or mere signing the tennis balls for fans. There is never a dull moment when he is around, which inspires everyone to be happy and joyous in life in whatever they do. One of the most important things about him which inpires me is his sense of humour.
Always respectful, always straightforward
For a funny answer, you need an out-of-the-box question, and that is what the famous interviewer Jim Courier frequently comes up with. Some of his interviews are epic and reveal the funny and naughty side of Federer. The Swiss’ scintillating answers refresh your mind and you never feel like the interviewer is talking to the world’s number one player. His down-to-earth nature and respect for the opponents are also very appreciable. Though he is a competitive player on the court, when the match ends, his respect for the opponent is clear from his friendly shake of the hand and pat on the back.
Federer first congratulates his opponents and never shies from telling them that they played wonderfully well, and that luck was on his side today or that he had a good day, instead of attributing the victory to his hours of hard work and training. He always looks for opportunities to praise others. Of course, he gives straightforward answers too and never displays false modesty about his immense talent.
When asked how he has consistently played at such a high level, Federer gave this honest answer.“You know, there’s no secret about it. I’m definitely a very talented player.”
Another noticable thing in his game is the coolness with which he plays the beautiful game. You never see a moment of anger or anguish on his face, even if he has lost an important point in the match. He brings an aura of calmness which is clear from his statement – “Just because I smashed a racket, it doesn’t mean I lost it.”
Cool as ever, Federer says that even when smashing a racket, he keeps a clear head. Handling the pressure situations as coolly as he does makes me feel wonder how anyone could refrain from reacting to the boiling tense situations that tennis players frequently face. But Federer never looses his faith in himself and his sheer confidence in his abilities sometimes makes him win the batttle even before it has actually started.
He just loves tennis
Another admirable thing about Federer is his sheer love for the game. He just cannot imagine his life without tennis. Some news reporters never shy of asking him again and again his retirement plans to which he says – “Sometimes you're just happy playing. Some people, some media, unfortunately, don't understand that it's okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story, and if it's not, obviously, what is the point? Maybe you have to go back and think, ‘why have I started playing tennis? Because I just like it. It's actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don't get that, ever.”
This teaches me, simply, that it’s great to do what you love. You can excel in any profession if you love it from your heart; it then becomes no more a profession but a thing of joy from which you can get satisfaction and fulfilment each day you practise it. It is no more a duty but a sense of fulfilment.
Federer once said, “Clearly, when you win everything, it's fun. That doesn't necessarily mean you love the game more.” Can’t argue against that!
A favourite among fans, family and colleagues
The Swiss is also a very caring husband and now a father of four, and he manages his personal life as perfectly as his professional life. His wife Mirka watches his each and every game and so do the kids. His father also often watches the game from courtside, with the ‘RF’ hat on.
Federer hasn’t forgotten his roots as he says – “My heart is in South Africa, through my mum. My mum being from here, me spending a lot of time here as well, I feel most connected to this part of the world.”
With his easygoing demeanour, he easily endears himself to everyone – even his opponents. He is the most respected player in the game and everyone feels privileged to play against him, and some don’t even mind losing to him! One of his greatest rivals on court Rafael Nadal once said – “If somebody says I am better than Roger, I think this person don't know nothing about tennis.”
This kind of respect is not gained in a few days but in many years by achieving perFectionism both on and off the court, by inspiring and motivating generations to come and becoming a part of history, by not just getting accolades on the court but also by being a good human.
Federer’s indefatigable energy motivates to keep moving on and on in life, fighting difficulties with a smile on his face and cherishing the good moments as well as not so good. That kind of person is a veritable source of inspiration to anyone!