TennisComment: It’s weird, though.
Roger Federer will therefore retire. And we had to go see this gentleman who accompanied most of my life, urgently on Tuesday morning, because he wanted to speak to Switzerland. Yes, it’s weird.
I was born on May 8, 1981. The “Master” was born on August 8 of the same year, so he is three months younger than me. It’s weird. Because as much to say that he “accompanied” me without knowing it the majority of my life, like all the Swiss who are 50 years older than me and all the young people who are 35 years younger than my little person. This Tuesday, at the last minute, we had to take a plane early in the morning – as the old people say – to go and listen to him in the bowels of the O2 Arena in London, 24 hours before he spoke to the press. International.
So I didn’t fully understand what he said – the “Baseldytsch” can be particularly violent, when you had to wake up at 4 am – but it stirred a little nonetheless. Federer had the good taste to start his interview in French, in order to be sure that the French-speaking part of the country understood and it is always something to see him juggle with languages. And then I’m not a tennis journalist and I had to see him three times in real life, including once for work and therefore less than 20 meters away. So that’s weird.
It was weird, like every time you meet in real life someone you’re used to seeing on your television. And if it was only on the small screen… Early evenings in bars, mobile phones taken out on the Tour de France route to follow him, “Come on” shouted in the middle of the night… And there, in a small living room of an Arena that I had visited twice to see MMA there, the star is explaining things about his life, with his own brand of shoes on his feet.
Because for Swiss people like us, what do you want to do as the biggest superstar? Michael Jordan? Possibly, but I didn’t get Canal+ until late. Mohamed Ali? I am too young. Pelé, Maradona, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Too young, too young and it should not be abused, the best is Steen Thychosen, in real life. Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Phelps? Hard to identify. Federer, he still went through Ecublens and Biel. It almost makes him a kid from home icon who ended up world. It’s weird.
And then when you meet them, everything looks simple. He arrives, everything is square, like his build. He puts you at ease right away, he offers a coffee, he talks quickly, he makes jokes… You’re quickly put at ease. Frankly, seen from a distance, it seems a little too smooth and all, but in real life, it does good things and it’s nice. I won’t be able to stay for his match and his show that he will organize this weekend, but I had my dose of emotions. It’s a page of all of our lives that has been turned these days and, there again, it’s weird. I can say that I was there and that’s a pleasure. Like his first win at Wimbledon and his last in Australia in 2018, which I experienced in a couch. But this time it wasn’t mine, it was the one right next to him.
A few weeks ago, by the same chance at work as that of duty in London at short notice and there was no one else to do it, I found myself in front of Martina Hingis, also 41 years old, retired but since 2017. Well on Tuesday night, after locking up the computer and starting to think about it all at the very interesting “Hardy’s Freehouse” on Trafalgar Road (not Square, mind you, the cost of beer would be less than half and there had a very excited old man who was listening to bagpipe concerts at the top of his iPad at the back of the bar), I told myself that when we voted on AVS 34, my retirement for me will be in about 30 years, if I am lucky.
And that, too, made me feel weird.