Before becoming one of the strongest tennis players ever, Roger Federer repeatedly played the role of ball boy in Basel. Even today, at the end of each edition of the home tournament, the Swiss phenomenon is used to sharing a pizza with all the ball boys who allowed the event to take place.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who has not set foot on the field since the charity exhibition with Rafael Nadal in Cape Town, recounted his ball boy experience at the launch of a new line of shoes called 'The Roger'
The former World number 1 will only be back on the field at the beginning of next season, with the clear goal of winning his ninth title at Wimbledon and perhaps gold at the Tokyo Olympics (postponed to 2021 due to the Coronavirus emergency).
Federer on his father
"I loved being a ball kid. I was a ball kid at my hometown tournament in Basel. It was supposed to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, but I suppose it might get postponed till next year. I also loved doing regional ball-boying at the regional club.
I was at a women's event. I always thought that was a fantastic way to be a part of the fabric of an event and a tournament. I love tennis, so I don't mind if I have to sweep the court, pick up the ball or play a match.
At the end of the day, it is all part of the same eco-system" Roger Federer said. He also revealed the best advice he has received from his father: "My dad has been great, throughout, still today. He is an honest shooter like myself as well.
He doesn't hold back with how he feels. He would call me after I win a tournament and tell me, "What about your backhand?" I would be like 'I have just won a tournament and I feel so good. What about my backhand?'
But he told me I got to do more with it. He always challenged me a little bit. He never held back. And I want to be the same with my children as well. Make sure I am honest to them. He used to tell me when bringing me to a tennis tournament: 'Don't waste my time.
Don't get kicked out of practice' He used to be nice enough to drive me to practice, take turns with friends or with my mom. He used to say: 'At least try a little bit in practice. You don't have to be at your absolute super best, whatever that means, because I know you are more the creative player and all that stuff.
But don't just get kicked out of practice. It was hard for me to get motivated for every practice because I am a match player and not a practice guy. I learn a lot from him and mom. They have been wonderful parents. I couldn't be more happier. I still have a wonderful relationship with them, which is great."