He is one of the most classy players ever to grace the tennis court. His returns could be part of a dance routine, yet they are as deadly to the opponent as a murderer’s dagger. His runs along the baseline are as perfectly timed as that of the jump of a synchronized swimmer. He is none other than the most influential tennis player of this century, Roger Federer.
Born in Switzerland on 8th August, 1981, to Robert Federer and Lynette, he holds Swiss as well as South African citizenships. By his own admission, he was involved in a number of sports from a very young age, like badminton, basketball, chess, etc. He said it helped him improve his hand-eye co-ordination. He is married to Mirka Vavrinec, who he met during the 2000 Olympics. She was a member of the Women’s Tennis Association, but had to retire from the sport due to a foot injury in 2002. since retiring, she has been the public relations manager for Federer. Roger and Mirka got married in his hometown of Basel in 2009.
Federer was well on his way to becoming a star in his formative years as a professional tennis player. He won the Wimbeldon in 1998, both in the singles and doubles tournament. His singles opponent was Irakli Labadze, who he defeated in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. In the doubles final, he was paired with Olivier Rouchus. They defeated the opponent pair of Michaël Llodra and Andy Ram 6-4, 6-4 as well. However, in the very same year, he also lost the US Junior Open to David Nalbandian. He ended the year of 1998 as the Junior World no. 1.
As a child, Federer used to idolise Boris Becker and would watch tennis matches on the television for hours on end. His first professional appearance was at Gstaad in 1998, when he was only in the 12th grade. He was ousted by Lucas Arnold Ker in the round of 32, with a scoreline that read 4-6, 4-6. His first appearance in a final came a couple of years later at the Marseilles Open, but as fate would have it, that wasn’t his first title win. That came when he was representing Switzerland in the Hoffman Cup alongside Martina Hingis. Together, they defeated the American mixed doubles team of Monica Seles and Jan-Michael Gambill. His first single win came in 2001 at the Milan Indoor tournament, when he defeated Julian Boutter.
His first Grand Slam final was the final of the 2001 French Open, which he reached by defeating the defending four-time world champion, Pete Sampras. But his first Grand Slam victory wasn’t to come for another two years. In 2003, he won his first Grand Slam singles title by defeating Mark Philippoussis in straight sets of the final of Wimbeldon. The next three years of men’s tennis were entirely dominated by Federer, during which he won the Australian Open twice, the Wimbeldon for a consecutive four years from 2003-2006, and the US Open for three consecutive years (2004-2006). Because of his long and extremely illustrious tennis career, he was named the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award for four consecutive years from 2005.