As a new book celebrates Federer’s twilight years, we look back at our long love affair with the tennis giant.

The award-winning English author Geoff Dyer has written a book that investigates the late careers of artists such as Bob Dylan, J.W. Turner and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Entitled The Last Days of Roger Federer, it uses the mighty tennis player as a jumping off point to examine the last days and achievements of some of history’s greatest cultural figures.

With 20 grand slam titles to his name, Federer is a wildly popular, astoundingly versatile professional tennis player. Did we know when Federer came into our consciousness at the turn of the century that he’d be among the greatest players of all time? Perhaps. It’s been a wonderful journey, though.

Tennis veteran Jimmy Connors once said: ‘In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay-court specialist, a grass-court specialist or a hard-court specialist... or you’re Roger Federer.’

Here, we take a look at his very best moments.

Image: Esther Lim, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An Early Interview With Roger, 1999

In this early quick-fire interview, when he’d recently become tennis’s Junior World Champion, we learn plenty about the likes and dislikes of a young and hungry Federer. Endearing details include: his teenaged acne, his peroxide hair, the fact that he brazenly admits he never reads books and the lack of importance he attaches to prize money. Watch it.

Toppling Sampras, 2001

In 2019, GQ magazine voted Federer the most stylish man of the decade, so it is great fun to watch how his style has evolved. By the time he first won a Wimbledon match, the peroxide hair had given way to the ponytail, seen here, that we were stuck with for a while. Already rocking Nike whites, the 19-year-old was easy to love as he defeated his hero, Pete Sampras, on Centre Court. The commentators called this match ‘a glimpse of the future’. The tears, the cheers, the man jewellery. Too good. Watch it.

Mixed Doubles With Mirka, 2002

Young love blossomed when Roger played mixed doubles with his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec at the Hopman Cup in Perth in 2002. Their laughter, humour and body language in this clip is divine. They first met at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 (rumour has it that their first kiss was in a dormitory full of wrestlers). They married in private in Basel on April 11, 2009 and went on to have two sets of twins. Watch it.

Winning His First Wimbledon Final, 2003

Federer’s fabulous display of emotion was almost as fabulous as his tennis when he won his first Wimbledon final in 2003. He was giggly. He was ecstatic. He still had his ponytail. ‘It’s just incredible; I don’t know how I did it,’ he says in this post-match interview with the legendary Sue Barker. You can spot plenty of tearful spectators in the crowd – but, as ever, Mirka is calm and strong. Thank God he lifted that trophy seven more times, most recently in 2017. Watch it.

Appearance On David Letterman, 2005

A place on Letterman’s couch tends to confirm a person’s position as a cultural icon. Here, having just won the US Open for the second time, Federer is tanned, sharp and good-looking. The way he manages to be confident about his talent but not remotely smug is wonderful. He cuts through steely determination with self-effacing humour. The best bit comes at the end when Letterman urges him to “have a tremendous career”. Err… he sure managed that. Watch it.

Meet The Parents

You really get the measure of a person when you meet their parents. These charming interviews with his level-headed and loving mother and father, which are interspersed with footage of him as a child, explain a lot about Federer. His mother says: ‘We were never angry at Roger if he lost a match but we were always angry with him because of his behaviour [on the court]’. You wouldn’t mess with that mama, would you? He describes them as ‘the best parents in the world’. Cute. Watch it.

Vogue’s 73 Questions With R Fed

Bedecked in pristine Uniqlo whites, Federer is a dreamboat to look at by 2019. This jaunty interview with Vogue is bursting with insights. He is so smiley and chatty and claims to love being interviewed. Federer says he’s a chocoholic, that Tom Ford is his style icon, that he speaks four languages, that he was terribly homesick at the start of his touring life, that eight is his favourite number and that he is passionate about the philanthropic work of the Roger Federer Foundation. Please, please can he never retire? Watch it.

By Becky Ladenburg
June 2022

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.