Roger Federer started to play tennis in the late 80s, with a wooden racquet and white balls instead of regular yellow ones. As many other players back then, Roger used to hit against the wall, garage doors or cupboards, dreaming about competing on the big stage and the rivals from the top.
That would all come some ten years later, with the young Swiss making incredible progress throughout his junior days and early pro years, becoming a Major champion in 2003 and world no. 1 six months later. Speaking for the ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot, Roger recalled those early years and things he used to do outside the court, collecting stickers with players and trophies before becoming a part of the home Basel event where he made a debut against Andre Agassi in 1998.
"My first memories go back to playing with a wooden racquet. Instead of the neon yellow tennis balls I started off with the white tennis balls. In Switzerland, we used a lot of pressure-less tennis balls as well. I don't know how many players of this generation today could say that," Federer said.
"I remember playing against the wall and at the cupboards and the garage doors for hours. I collected a lot of the stickers as well. There was a year, I guess it was the beginning of the 90s when all the old tennis players were in a book.
It was about the tournaments, about the trophies, about the players, so I got to know them all. And then eventually also became a ball boy in my hometown event in Basel. I used to chase the players for autographs, which at the time was not a big deal, as the selfie didn't exist. So those are my memories really from back then."