Roger Federer's inimitable style and class have helped make him a world icon regardless of his triumphs on the tennis court. The Swiss phenomenon, recently equaled by Rafael Nadal at 20 Slam titles, is recovering from the double operation on his right knee which he underwent in recent months.
The 39-year-old from Basel will make his return to the field early next year, having already targeted the Australian Open in Melbourne. The former world number 1 will have Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics as main goals in 2021, which could also represent the last season of his glorious career (despite having been denied by his team).
Speaking with the website of the newspaper Le Parisien, Gilles Simon - who is promoting the release of his new book - stressed how Federer's attitude has cultivated unrealistic expectations among young people who approach the sport.
Simon on Roger Federer's image
"I have nothing against Roger Federer personally, but against the image we have of him," Gilles Simon said. "For decades, it has been believed that only Federers should be trained.
And he, with his style of play, his way of going forward, the confidence he exudes, came to validate these choices. He made us lose 20 years! In France, everyone wants Roger Federer: parents, coaches… We don't realize that Rafael Nadal Nadal has won so many Grand Slams by doing something quite different.
That's why it would help if Roger Federer's records fell because we'd finally have to see the others," the Frenchman added. "Despite the Big 3 (Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer) , Marin Cilic won a Grand Slam and made two finals.
Why? It's not about his forehand, his game and even less his physique. But in his mind, he's stronger than us. Four levels above," Simon said. "We (French players) beat many times but when we got to a little more important matches like in Davis Cup, he beat us every time.
Was Jo less strong? No. But he didn't win. And so we are going to talk about the mind again. There it is, it's cultural, French athletes are not mentally tough!" he added. The 20-time Grand Slam champion then beat rival Rafael Nadal in a charity match in South Africa in February.
In June, he announced he would be out of action for the rest of the 2020 season due to a knee injury. In his absence, Nadal tied him with 20 Grand Slam titles by winning his 13th French Open earlier this month, earning plaudits from Federer and Rod Laver among others.