Considered the best tennis player of all time, Roger Federer was able to seduce his audience both with his game and his personality. It is the sports journalist of the New York Times, Christopher Clarey, who retraced his journey in a new biography now available in French.
"I wanted to write this biography, if I hadn't done it I would have had regrets", confides from the outset, the author and journalist Christopher Clarey who has covered tennis for 35 years and who has followed the tennis player for 20 years doing multiple interviews. "I had access to extraordinary information and I had a privileged contact with this great sportsman," says Clarey, who took six months to write his nearly 600-page book in addition to spending as much time making research and conduct new interviews while delving into his writings over the past 20 years.
It is thanks to his long interviews and the trips they made together that Christopher Clarey was able to grasp the full personality of the man who has 103 titles and 1251 career victories, making him the greatest tennis champion.
Reading this book, we understand that the author was fascinated by the personality of the champion. One day, while traveling in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they did an interview in his limo. Federer was getting $2 million per appearance, that was in 2012.
"Roger was in awe of the fans around him, as if finding he was popular even in this place in South America where he was setting foot for the first time," the author says.
A special being
Despite his undeniable talent, nothing could have predicted that Federer would become the most adored tennis player in the world.
"As a youngster, he did not accept defeat, he started playing tennis at eight years old and he had problems managing his anger and his emotions, not being able to tolerate that others could be better than him", underlines the author who recalls that Roger began his tennis career at the age of 12 when he hesitated between football and tennis.
"He became a champion at 21, and over the years he learned to control his emotions more and accept defeat with more grace and perspective," the New York Times reporter noted.
But it was also this frustration at seeing his rivals win matches that allowed him to develop his determination and become the best.
Federer was also ready to step out of his comfort zone. He who was born in German-speaking Switzerland in Basel, he agreed at the age of 14 to settle in Lausanne in French-speaking Switzerland, even if, at that time, he did not speak French. He confessed that it was difficult to the point of crying, but that it built his character allowing him to develop his perseverance and independence.
Determination and sensitivity
According to Christopher Clarey, if Federer got this far it was due to several factors.
“He had talent, but to become a great champion you also need a team behind and Roger was able to assemble the right people and make the right choices. You need the right coach, the right agent, and the right sponsors,” says the author.
According to Clarey, Federer is also intuitive. "He knows when it's time to take a break from his injuries and then come back with positive energy. »
Among his other qualities, Christopher Clarey cites the importance of his game with his gestures, his elegant movements. Added to this is his ability to adapt to a host of situations in all areas of his life. “He is also a very empathetic person, people feel it and that explains the love of the public towards him. »
On the other hand Federer would be stubborn which, however, helped him to develop his determination. "He is also too sensitive, he could cry after a big game, but because he showed this great sensitivity to the public it made him an endearing person, but it also cost him games," said the journalist.
Even though Federer is still active in tennis at 41, the journalist expects retirement time to come soon, but he won't sit at home doing nothing, even though he will spend more time with his wife, Mirka, and their children.
"I believe he will do a lot of things starting with dedicating himself to charity."
Moreover, during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, he did not hesitate to mobilize for the cause of the stars of world tennis in Australia collecting nearly 200,000 Australian dollars.
In 2020, as Australia was ravaged by wildfires, he made a joint donation with Rafael Nadal of A$250,000.
He also donated one million Swiss francs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to help the most vulnerable people in his country.
"He didn't spend so much time with Bill Gates unnecessarily," Clarey says. “He also has the streak of an entrepreneur and in my opinion he will use his image to have an impact to start something. »