After playing professional tennis for 25 years, Roger Federer ended his incredible career at the Laver Cup in September. Federer started playing tennis in the late 80s, with a wooden racket and white balls instead of regular yellow ones.
Like many other players at the time, Roger bumped into walls, garage doors, or cupboards, dreaming of competing on the big stage and against rivals at the top of the leaderboard.
All of that would come ten years later, with the young Swiss making incredible progress throughout his junior days and early professional seasons. Federer became a major champion in 2003 and world number one six months later, holding the ATP throne for four and a half years.
Damaging himself for ATP ‘Uncovered’ presented by Peugeot, Roger looked back on his earliest memories of tennis and the things he used to do off the court. The Swiss collected stickers with players and trophies before appearing at the home event in Basel, where he made his debut against Andre Agassi in 1998.
Roger Federer spoke about his tennis debut.
Like every other player, Federer has had his darkest moments over the years. He wasn’t always calm and focused, and it would be hard to recognize Roger for his demeanor until his late teens.
The Swiss could not keep calm from his first competitive games as a junior. He threw rackets, swore and had something to say about every point he lost!
Everything changed in the early 2000s and Federer became one of the best players in the world and a major competitor. He cracked the top 10 in May 2002 and began his incredible Majors journey a year later at Wimbledon.
Roger established himself as a global sporting icon in the following years. He became the most famous face of our sport and holder of many records that had to wait for Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to break them.
“My earliest memories go back to playing with a wooden racket. Instead of neon yellow tennis balls, I started with white tennis balls. In Switzerland, we also used a lot of non-pressure tennis balls.
I’m curious how many players of this generation today could say that. I remember playing against the wall and against closets and garage doors for hours.
I also collected a lot of stickers. There was a year in the early 90s where every former tennis player was in one book. It was about tournaments, trophies and players, so I got to know them all.
And then finally, I also became a ballboy at my hometown event in Basel. I chased players for autographs, which didn’t matter at the time, because the selfie didn’t exist. Those are really my memories of that time,” Roger Federer said.