Mike Nakajima, who was director of tennis at Nike, recalled that Federer had come to the company’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., For a year for shoe tests at Nike’s research lab. They got out of the building and were on their way to their next meeting when Federer stopped dead and said, “I have to go back.” Nakajima asked him if he forgot anything, and Federer said he forgot to thank the people who helped him with the shoes. âSo we ran into the building, downstairs, through security so he could say thank you,â Nakajima said. “Now, which athlete does that?” “
The French have a beautiful expression that applies to Federer: “to combine the useful with the pleasant”, which is loosely translated as “to combine business and pleasure”.
Federer was at Nike headquarters for ‘Roger Federer Day’, during which all buildings on the sprawling campus were temporarily renamed in his honor. But Nakajima said the day was not just a celebration of Federer’s achievements. Federer, often up for a prank, agreed to play a few of them at Nike employees. They got the ad team together to watch a new ad. Federer surprised them by rolling a cart around the room and serving them coffee and donuts. At the company gym, he sat behind the front desk and handed out towels to employees. In the company cafeteria, Federer rotated as a cashier and then as a barista. “Of course he didn’t know how to make coffee, so what he ended up doing was walking around, going from table to table, saying, ‘Hello, my name is Roger Federer, nice to meet you, “like people don’t know who he is,” Nakajima said. “You think you could make Maria Sharapova do that? Definitely not. And Roger did it with a smile. to the lips, then he played Wii tennis with anyone who wanted to play with him.
Andy Roddick told me that Federer came to Austin, Texas in 2018 as a personal favor to help him organize an event for his charitable foundation, which funds educational programs and activities for low-income youth. . âI pick him up at the airport, we drive in, and he says ‘OK, what’s the show going?’,â Roddick said. “And Roger said,” Be very specific about what you’re doing. I don’t just mean you help the kids, because it’s lazy. And then he says, “OK, how can I give you the most value today?” “There was no conversation on” What time can I leave? How much time do I have to spend? ‘â
When they arrived at the event, Roddick expected him to be Federer’s escort, introducing him to guests and donors. But Federer has acted like he’s been preparing for the event for weeks. âHe separates from me and literally walks up to the first two people he sees, shows up and works alone in the room, with no agent or manager not interfering,â Roddick said. âI watched him do it for an hour, right in a room full of strangers and just talking to people. One of our board members has twins, and they’re talking about twins. He is able to find parallels and commonalities. I was really impressed with it. The person who needs it the least is the best. We ended the event, and his plane was delayed, and he went back to the donor room and started over. He didn’t get out of Austin until 1 or 2 in the morning, and if he was pissed off, no one would have known.
I asked Roddick how unusual this kind of approach was compared to other elite athletes. âWhat I’m most jealous of isn’t the skill or the titles – it’s the ease of use with which Roger exists,â said Roddick. “There are people who are as good as Roger at different sports, but there is no way Jordan or Tiger will have the ease of use that Roger has day to day.”
Mirka, whom Federer calls his ârockâ, has been key to his ability to navigate between his public and private spheres. She has done a lot over the years, including carrying and raising two pairs of identical twins. Mirka and Roger’s daughters, Charlene and Myla, were born on July 23, 2009, and the family boarded a private jet to Montreal and the Canadian Open three days after Mirka and the newborns were released from Zurich hospital. Their sons, Leo and Lennart, were born on May 6, 2014, leaving Roger just enough time to make it to the Italian Open. Family logistics have been intimidating at times – a rotating team of nannies and a traveling guardian certainly smoothed out some of the bumps – but Mirka’s goal was to turn the road into a home, in part so that her husband could play with peace of mind. ‘spirit. âI wasn’t sure this was what I really wanted for the kids at first, but I have to say it keeps us together,â Federer told me in 2015.