Roger Federer: A Hero

Roger Federer, a genius who made tennis look effortless, died Monday at the age of 49. He was a legend on the court. Off it, too—he spent much of his life battling substance abuse, not to mention the public perception that he was a cold, aloof, and, well, arrogant.

It’s not that Federer was a particularly great player. In fact, on those rare occasions that he was playing against someone (for example, Novak Djokovic), he often lost to him. But that’s another story. In any case, he was a tremendous human being, with an infectious personality and a unique ability to inspire those around him. He may have given his players bad advice, but he was always there to help them when it was needed.

After retiring from tour tennis in 2010, Federer was asked what he thought about the question of whether he was a better or worse person than he had been as a pro. Without hesitation, he replied: “I’m a much better person than I was a player, because I’m much more mature now. I have more perspective, I take things more thoughtfully. I understand life a bit more now. I understand the value of family more now. I understand myself. I’m a bit less abrasive. I am much less of a show-off. I am much more of a doer. I try to have more fun in my personal life.”

This is what you need to know about the life of Roger Federer. It doesn’t begin with his victory over a chimpanzee. If you were to look in his eyes when he won Wimbledon, you would see a man who was looking to play his best tennis in a lifetime. He didn’t just want to win. He wanted to win with poise and respect. In 2010, after Wimbledon, his coach Ivan Lendl famously said: “He’s a special person. To me, he’s a hero.”

He could be a hero. He could also be someone who is more fun than anyone else on the court. Federer is, after all, a winner. After all, he is the only top-

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