Answer by Goutham Harsha:
The following article is an essay about Federer, written by Rick Reilly (in 2007), who is a featured columnist for ESPN Sports. This should give a fair idea as to what the man is in real life.
Roger Federer is decent, humble and kinder than Aunt Bee. He is constantly saying, “I’m just a normal guy.” All his winning shots were just “lucky.” Well, finally, opponents are starting to take his word for it.
Do you realize this man, whom most experts say is the greatest tennis player to ever live, actually goes to restaurants and sometimes waits in line?
He doesn’t have a full-time coach. Has no tattoos. His entourage is a joke. His publicity agent, his scheduler, his hitting partner and his girlfriend are all the same person. And she’s not even a lingerie model! Just an ordinary, very nice Swiss miss named Mirka. Derek Jeter has more babes than belts!
Federer flies commercial. Doesn’t own a jet. Here’s a guy who has dominated his sport far more than Tiger Woods has over the last three years, yet Tiger has a 155-foot yacht and Federer doesn’t even own a dinghy.
Federer made an estimated $28 million last year, yet he doesn’t own a house, just two “flats,” he says. He won four ATP honors in one day last week–Player of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, Fans’ Favorite and the Sportsmanship Award for 2006–yet he has no trophy room. The hardware just piles up on his dining room table.
At 25 Federer has won 10 Grand Slam events yet still stays in the same hotel as the tour schmoes. Roger, you’re an immortal! Rent a mansion! Do you realize that when Tiger played at a tournament in Tucson in February he not only rented a house, but he also had all the furniture removed and his own brought in, so he could be more comfortable? Wake up and smell the indulgence!
“I don’t want to overlive,” Federer says. “I don’t need to be too big. It’s got to feel right when you go to bed at night.”
Get this: You can send an autograph request to his parents’ house–their address is on his website–and within a month you’ll get a photo hand-signed by Roger. “Well, if I were a child,” he says, “I wouldn’t want to wait two years for a picture of my hero, would you?” Damn, son, at least get one of those signing machines like everybody else!
Tell you what a sucker Federer is, when he’s done practicing, he picks up his own bench area. “Not many guys on tour do that,” says Federer’s best friend, Yves Allegro. “In fact, most don’t do that.” That’s the other thing–this guy Allegro. Federer plays doubles with him a few times a year just to put some folding money in his friend’s pocket. Nowadays your average tennis superstar would rather join the Elks club than play doubles. But not Federer. Even if the doubles comes right after his singles match, he plays. It would be like Tiger playing the Sheboygan Ladies Par 3 Annual after winning the Masters. “How can I pay him back?” Allegro says. “He won’t even let me buy him dinner!”
You have to be who you are, Rog, and you are a heavenly body. Start acting like it! “I tell him all the time,” says his agent, IMG’s Tony Godsick, “you’re too nice.”
Too Nice Example No. 1: Federer sometimes throws pizza parties for the ball boys at tournaments because he was one himself. And he attends!
Too Nice No. 2: The other day he was in L.A. and called Pete Sampras out of the blue to see if he wanted to hit. No, no, no, Roger! He calls you! And you put him off for a week before you call him back!
Too Nice No. 3: I sent an e-mail to Godsick on Monday morning at eight, asking for a one-on-one interview. By four, I was sitting across from Federer. Eight hours? Barry Bonds will put a reporter off for eight years! There were two chairs in the interview room. A large, cushy one with armrests and a plain straight-backed one. He looked at me sheepishly and said, “Would you mind very much if I took the larger chair? I am very tired from my match.”
Hello? Roger? Monster sports Goliaths don’t ask. Monster sports Goliaths plop down in the big one, then put their feet up on the smaller one.
Then they examine their fingernails, sniff once and go, “Make it quick. My exfoliator is waiting.”
You’re a tennis star, Roger. Go out there and get some faults!