Sports fraternity can label 1992 as an Year of Underdogs. Be it Pakistan clinching Cricket World cup, be it Jim Courier picking up his first Australian Open title or be it Sweden winning UEFA Championship for first and last time, all came from nowhere. Hence its easy to declare 1992 Year of Under dogs. But here I am mentioning this particular year for some other reason. I will take it in context of a decision, the decision took by an eleven years old Tennis ball-boy. The young man actually decided to play professional tennis in this particular year and the moment after that, proved to be one of the most influential moment in the game. He was already good in tennis and soccer but after that, he left his hometown Băsel for studies and to join tennis academy for training. Nobody knew, it was just a Start of emergence of The Greatest Tennis player of All Times.
He was obiviosly Roger Federer. The man started an unbelievable journey after that. He became Swiss National Junior Champion at the age of fourteen. Then entered in International Tennis Federation’s junior tennis circuit in July 1996. He turned pro in 1998, but before it, he won Wimbledon Junior Title and prestigious “Orange Bowl”.
Although he had quite some achievements in junior and senior circuit but till 2000, he was nothing more than an underdog. Then came Sydney Olympics 2000. He was representing his nation there. Although he was not able to win any medal but won life for himself. He met his life partner Mirka Viveranic, who was also representing Switzerland in the Olympics there. In 2002, Mirka’s professional career finished immatuarly due to her knee injury but before this heart break both have their dream run in Hopeman Cup, where they teamed up for mixed doubles. Since the moment of being out of the court forever, the girl served his boy as an extraordinary hardworking manager. Federer’s interviews, his sponsorships, appointments, calory calculations, fitness, notes for his games and every thing one player has to manage outside of the court, she did for him.
“I always imagined my tennis career in him. He is the one playing for me there” She once said in an interview.
Federer Continued his struggle in tennis court where after some minor losses, he got the breakthrough of his life in 2001 in Wimbledon. Four times defending champion and all time leading grand slam winner (at that time) Pete Sampras was defeated by nineteen years Roger Federer.
He won his first Grand slam in 2003 but that was just a start, after that it is a long tale of brutal victories against each and every great player he played. Record of winning 20 Grand Slam tiltes, including Six Australian Open, Five US Open, One French Open and record Eight Wimbledon Titles. From 2004 to 2007, he won Eleven out of sixteen Grand Slams which shows his brutal dominance in the era. In total, he played 30 grand slam finals which is a record. In 2009, He won French Open title and with this he registered his name with Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emeson, Fred Parry and Rafael Nadal, few players who won all four Grand Slams in Their Career.
Federer remained World #1 for 302 weeks in total and 237 consecutive weeks (Feb 2004-Aug 2008) which is again a record. Besides Grand Slams, till now he won 95 Titles, 2nd best in the history of this prestigious game.
In 2009, after an nine years long affair, he finally got married with his love, Mirka Federer. They are now Parents of 2 sets of Twins, Two twin Sisters and Two twin Brothers.
In 2012, Federer Finally won Olympic silver medal for his country. Although he had already won an olympic gold in doubles in 2008, but with this singles title, he completed his singles trophy cabinet. Now he has each and every major trophy and medal in his cabinet which Tennis World can offer. Once someone was asked about the evolution tennis as a game, the answer was exceptional: “First there was Tennis and then there is Roger Federer”. Epic Reply.
After winnig Wimbledon 2012, he faced alot of injury problems with some very serious issues with his health overall. It looked like the golden Federer Era is finally over, but he again proved himself a fighter, kept fighting with every difficulty he faced and finally came up with that famous stunning Victory in Austrailian Open 2017, where he won The title without loosing a single set in whole tournament. He is the oldest to do so. His interview, having the trophy in his hands in front of that huge Australian crowd, which was going mad that night, was the best he ever gave. After beating his arch rival and one of his toughest competitor, Rafael Nadal in the final, Federer paid tribute to Rafa and said: “Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws in it, but if there were, I would have been happy to share it with Rafa tonight. I never been happy in loosing but today I would have been happy to lose”.
In the same year he won his eighth Wimbledon Title which is a record and now he is the oldest to win Wimbledon. It is provably his urge, commitment and determination which is still bringing him on and he is still doing wonders in the game but after winning his 20th Grand Slam in Melbourne just two days ago he gave this credit to his miilions of fans around the world:
“You guys make me nervous. You guys make me practice. You guys fill the stadiums. You guys make me play and do everything I do. Thank you for everything guys!” He said.
Roger Federer is the most popular and respected Tennis player ever. He won ATP Fan’s Favourite Player Award for fifteen consecutive years (2003-2017), which is a record. Besides it, he won Stephan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for 13 times, which is also a record. Both these prestigious records indicate his pooularity and respect which he earned over the years.
Like any other great human being, Roger Federer has done so much for the humanity. In recent times, he is considered one of the greatest philanthropist in sports world. Back in 2003, He founded “Roger Federer Foundation”. Since then, the foundation has spent 26 Million Euros in the education sector in Africa. With the personal interest of the man himself, they got collaboration with sixteen local organizations which were instrumental in getting more than a million poor African children in schools, A mammoth number in itself. For this, more than a dozen educational projects were initiated in Africa and over 1500 kindergartens and primary schools have been involved in this massive campaign.
If someone will ask me about the most mysterious thing in sports right now, I will say its the Racket in the hand of Roger Federer, but if someone will ask about the greatest blend of educational philanthropy and sports on earth right now, its again Roger Federer.
He is still on court, showcasing his famous, flued and attacking tennis skills and still on field, showcasing his love for humanity. One can only pray for the health, prosperity and determination of The Living Legend because this kind of gentlemen hardly born.
Written By: Ahmad Salman