Before his knee surgery which he announced on Thursday, Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer spoke to Swiss publication L'Illustre about his Match in Africa exhibition match against Rafael Nadal and how he hopes to have a second edition of the same in the future.
Federer says it was a dream of his to play in Africa and he hopes to come back soon. "It was not without risk. Could we really fill such a big stadium or were we going to crash? I would also have played in a smaller stadium but, when we saw that the match had sold out in a few minutes, I was so relieved, so proud!
To the point that I would have gladly organized a second match right away, so that all interested South Africans could have a ticket. But it would probably have been too greedy. We now have the motivation to organize, soon I hope, a second edition here."
During their visit to Cape Town, Federer and Nadal both spent some time with the kids there and the 20-time Grand Slam champion says he works well with children due to his own experience of being a father. "When other professional players organize photos with children, those who don't have kids often seem a bit unnatural.
Having said that, I have to admit that yesterday Rafa was very cute with the kids. He got used to it with his own foundation. And for me, it's really easy. Instead of my four children, there are a hundred at a time, no problem.
My two boys were 6 years old in May, so they are exactly the age of the kids we played with, Rafa and me. I know perfectly well how they react when they break their faces or don't immediately understand an exercise. In the past, I would have been awkwardly more clumsy."
The proceeds from the match go to the Roger Federer foundation, which the 38 year old Swiss says he wants to focus on South Africa, since his mother is originally from there, and Switzerland. "It is logical that we have focused the foundation on Africa since she is South African.
Passing from juniors to the ATP tour, I was fortunate to be surrounded by the right people, who showed me the way: Marc Rosset, coach Peter Lundgren and Peter Carter, who too care take care of me like a little brother. But of course also my parents.
One day, the commitment to Africa became obvious. (Switzerland) matters to me too. Many people believe that with us everyone is fine. We must not forget children from broken families. In Africa, the idea of concentrating on the southern region is also linked to a question of costs.
As all the countries where the foundation is active are neighbors, the organization does not unnecessarily waste money on administrative costs. And here in the south of the continent, we have seen that training is really necessary..
I always knew I wanted to do something with children. Not just promotion, but something that involves direct contact. Besides, physical suffering simply affects me too much. I can hardly bear it. So I opted for training. Which, along with health, represents the future, and is so important in life.
They (my kids) know why right now mom and dad aren't with them for a few days. They asked, and I told them what we were doing here with the foundation. They already understand it very well. My hope is that, later, they too will give back a little bit of their luck for a cause that will be dear to their hearts."