There are athletes that go down in the history books for their excellence in the sport, but it’s the actions off the court or field that make certain superstars stand out over other great players.
Roger Federer is not only regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time—for many he is undoubtedly the best—but he is also widely recognized for his sportsmanship. Here, let’s take a look at the life of the tennis legend.
Roger Federer is a former Swiss professional tennis player widely considered as one of, if not the best of all time. Born in Basel in 1981, Federer has enjoyed a fantastic career in which he set incredible feats, such as winning 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles or being atop the ATP Men’s world rankings for 302 weeks overall and 237 straight weeks. His great career earned him the nicknames ‘Maestro’ or ‘GOAT’ (Greatest of All Time).
Born to Swiss-German father Robert Federer and South African mother Lynette Federer in Basel, Roger lived most of his early years on the border with Germany and France. Consequently, he learned how to speak fluently in three languages: German, French and English.
Sports became a part of Federer’s life when he was a kid, and at the beginning it wasn’t just tennis. He also played soccer, a sport he always loved throughout his life, supporting Swiss giants FC Basel 1893.
However, he eventually leaned on towards tennis, which he started to play when he was only 8 years old. Federer comes from a family that enjoyed tennis, but none of them had the potential Roger showed early in his life. His innate talent was so visible that it didn’t take long for him to start pursuing a career in the sport.
By the time he was 11, Federer was already in the Top 3 Junior Tennis Players in Switzerland. Roger later quit other sports to dedicate as much time as possible to tennis, making efforts such as practicing six hours a week. And it paid off.
After turning 14, he became the National Junior Champion of his country and earned a sponsorship to train at the Swiss National Tennis Center, in Ecublens. In July 1996, Federer took another step in his pursuit of a tennis career by joining the International Tennis Federation junior circuit.
In 1998, Roger experienced his first big successes by winning the junior Wimbledon tournament and the Orange Bowl, which earned him the ITF World Junior Tennis Champion of the Year distinction.
Federer made his debut as a pro at the Davis Cup at only 18 years of age, and ended 1998 as the 64 ranked player in the ATP world rankings, being the youngest player in history to end the year in the top 100.
Federer caught the world’s attention in 2001 at Wimbledon, pulling off a shock by defeating reigning champion and tennis legend Pete Sampras in the fourth round. Next year, he took an even bigger step.
In 2002 he made it to the top 10 for the first time, ranking 6 overall in the ATP world ranking. That laid the foundation for his breakout year in 2003, when he showed the tennis world his true potential.
In addition to winning seven out of the nine ATP finals he played in, Federer made history by winning Wimbledon, becoming the first Swiss player to win a Grand Slam tournament. That made him No. 2 of the world, but he was far from done.
Federer climbed to the top of the ATP ranking for the first time at the end of 2004 after winning the US Open and Australian Open, as well as retaining his Wimbledon title. In addition, he also secured ATP Masters Series 1000 Finals and an ATP Series 500 Finals.
Having already established himself as one of the world’s best, Federer had a tough start to 2005 despite being atop the ranking at the beginning of the year. However, he found a way to bounce back by winning Wimbledon for a third time in a row and also claiming another US Open title.
In the end, Federer finished the year having won 11 of 15 tournaments. On top of that, he held on to a record of 24 consecutive finals won (July 2003-November 2005).
Far from slowing down, the Swiss Maestro was absolutely dominant in 2006. Not only did he seal his fourth Wimbledon title in a row, but he also secured the Australian Open and US Open again. Federer also came close to winning the pending Grand Slam tournament in his career, but lost to Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros (French Open) final. Still, it was a very prolific season as he won 12 out of 17 tournaments, being the world’s No. 1 for the third consecutive year.
Federer started 2007 on the right foot, winning his 10th Grand Slam title when he emerged victorious at the Australian Open. A few months later, however, his quest for an elusive French Open title continued as he once again lost to Nadal.
By then, his sporting rivalry with Rafa was reaching its highest point, though the Swiss star later claimed revenge. Federer continued to prove how comfortable he felt playing in grass, beating Nadal in a five-set Wimbledon final to become the second male player in more than 100 years to win five consecutive times at The Wimbledon Championships. He also won a record-breaking fourth straight US Open title.
Federer experienced a slight decline in 2008, in which he ended up winning only the US Open and three ATP 250 titles. At the beginning of the year, he lost in the Australian Open final to the rising star Novak Djokovic. On top of that, his 65-game winning streak on grass came to an end at the hands of Nadal, who beat Roger in the Wimbledon final—he had already defeated him in Roland Garros as well.
Consequently, Federer’s impressive run of 237 weeks as the world’s No. 1 was over, dropping to No. 2 of the ATP world rankings for the first time in four years.
The good thing about that year was his first Olympic success, winning the men’s Gold Medal in doubles for Switzerland alongside Stan Wawrinka at Beijing 2008.
Federer came back stronger in 2009, completing a career Grand Slam by winning the elusive French Open against Robin Soderling. On top of that, Roger also bounced back at Wimbledon, regaining the title after a five-set final against Andy Roddick. That was his sixth triumph at The Championships and a world record 15th Grand Slam title. Consequently, Federer was atop the world rankings again.
Roger started 2010 winning the Australian Open, but he later took a few steps back as he failed to reach the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon. 2011 was even worse, as he didn’t win a single Grand Slam tournament and his ranking dropped below the top three.
Federer rediscovered his best form in 2012, winning a record-tying seventh Wimbledon title against Andy Murray to get back to the first spot of the ranking. The Swiss star also reached the gold medal match at London 2012, but this time Murray had the upper hand and Federer had to settle with a silver medal.
Hampered by injuries, Federer only won the Gerry Weber Open in 2013. He got back to a Grand Slam final in 2014, but he ended up losing to Djokovic in a marathon five-set Wimbledon final. That year, however, Federer tasted the ultimate glory with Switzerland, leading the country to its first Davis Cup title in history.
In 2015, Djokovic stood in Federer's way twice, first by preventing the Swiss from a record eighth Wimbledon title (again), and later by beating him in the US Open final.
2016 was an injury-marred year for the Maestro, who picked up a knee injury in the Australian Open loss to Djokovic. He managed to get back to the court later, but back problems caught up with him as well. Federer eventually withdrew for the rest of the year after losing in the Wimbledon quarter finals due to persistent knee problems. As a result, his ranking dropped below the top 10.
But that only made him stronger. 2017 was a year of resurgence for Federer, whose wait for an 18th Grand Slam title came to an end when he beat Nadal against all odds in the Australian Open final. Roger also rediscovered his best form on grass to win a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title, becoming the oldest winner of The Championships in the open era without losing a single set throughout the tournament. That saw him climb to No. 2 of the ranking.
Federer carried his great form for one last Grand Slam title. With his victory in the 2018 Australian Open, the Swiss Maestro not only tied the record for most Aussie titles but also became the first player to win 20 Grand Slam singles titles. Eventually, his mark was tied by Djokovic and surpassed by Nadal (22).
Federer continued to defy Father Time in 2019, making an unexpected run to the French Open semifinals and coming close to a ninth Wimbledon triumph. Roger had once again made the final of The Championships and made Djokovic sweat until the end, ultimately falling short in a 4-hour 57-minute match—the longest men’s final in tournament history.
In 2020, Federer reached the Australian Open semifinals before undergoing knee surgeries that ruled him out for the rest of the year. Roger found a way to come back for the following year, and even though he couldn’t play too much, he made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Unfortunately, Federer kept on suffering knee problems and remained on the sidelines for a long time.
The Swiss legend announced his decision to retire from the ATP Tour in September 2022. In a heartfelt letter dedicated to the sports world, and especially the tennis community, Federer said he would retire after his participation at the Laver Cup. His final match was an emotional one, as he teamed up with Rafael Nadal for a doubles game.
Roger Federer’s titles by year:
Needless to say, Roger Federer had an extraordinary career that drew respect from the entire sports world. Now he’s enjoying life off the court, but his time as a professional tennis player will always be remembered.
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