One of the beauties of reaching the pinnacle of a chosen profession, is the liberation it gives one to try out different things in both their personal and professional space. I honestly can’t tell you how that feels (maybe you can tell me), but I imagine it to be quite like that feeling you get once you’ve nailed that new job position or finished that oh so crucial project… only a thousand times more awesome.
Whatever that space is, and however it feels, that’s exactly where Roger Federer is right now. At this stage of his life and career, he’s got nothing left to prove. Oh and that Greatest Of All Time debate? I think Federer’s made his peace with it. Unless some unknown talent somewhere in the world rises up the ranks and rips through 20+ Grand Slams over the course of his career, Federer’s legacy as a tennis player is safe and he will always be in the discussion whenever it does come up among tennis pundits and fans alike.
With his tennis legacy intact and with a liberated free flowing style that is sure to amplify that legacy perfected, it appears Switzerland’s greatest sporting icon is embarking on a mission to cement his legacy as a person. While it is true that Roger Federer is not new to charity – his foundation has been running nearly as long as his career has – his senior citizen status in tennis, has given him more time to focus on this passion of helping people. To buttress this point, Match for Africa 4 is set to take place tomorrow, while Federer’s colleagues are busy grinding each other to red powdery dust across clay courts the world over.
While most tennis tournaments would have loved to see him grace their tournaments and fill their stadium seats, what Federer is embarking on has a much greater impact on both the human and sporting levels. To be frank, I’m not surprised at all. I always saw Federer as a meld of so many greats of the past. He’s got the fitness of Lendl, the grace and guile of Edberg, the lightning fast attack of Sampras and with regards to this topic, the charitable heart of Agassi. In that regard, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see those two hook up more often after Federer hangs up his racket.
Like him or not, Federer has always been a source of inspiration to many around the world. I do wonder if we’ll see more tennis players publicly embarking on a journey of charity – a journey of giving back, even before they retire. That’ll be a lovely trend.
Rog, if by some random twist of the universe you get to read this, Match for Africa 5 Suggestion: Federer vs Sampras.