I have always considered myself a tennis enthusiast, since I was a child and saw the champions of the past battle it out on the most prestigious courts in the world. Tennis, for me, is not just a sport, but a true way of life, a continuous life lesson that teaches us to never give up, to fight to achieve our goals, to believe in ourselves even when everything seems to go wrong.
And it is precisely on this last point that I would like to tell you a story that has always inspired me and that I hope can inspire you too. It is the story of one of the greatest tennis champions of all time, Roger Federer.
Many know him as the elegant, calm, and always smiling champion, but what perhaps not everyone knows is that his early career was anything but easy. Federer, in fact, was not considered a child prodigy, he was not the boy everyone talked about and believed in.
On the contrary. "Today everyone sees me as a calm man, but my early career was hallucinating. There was a coach who at my first tournament, after losing heavily, told me: 'At most you can make coffee in a bar with those hands.
You have no talent, boy.' That guy, he grew a rage inside me, such as to radically change personality," Federer recalls. This phrase, which could have brought down any boy his age, was instead the springboard for young Roger.
The anger that had been instilled in him turned into an inner strength that led him to work hard, day after day, night after night. "I would get up at night to go train outside my house. I turned on the lights in the garden and threw 100/1000 balls against the wall.
I tried, the right, the backhand, and continued to try until I convinced myself that that particular shot had come out perfect," Federer says. But it was not an easy journey, there were dark moments, moments of despair, moments when it seemed that the whole world was against him.
"There was even a time when I used to throw my racket around, and when I was sixteen, they even kicked me out of federation training. At 17, my family decided that I had to go to a psychologist because I had sudden outbursts of anger," the Swiss champion recalls.
But Federer never gave up, he continued to work hard, he continued to believe in himself, and in the end, he got where he wanted to be, at the top of the world. "After becoming number one in 2004, the idea of quitting even came to mind.
After all, I had reached the maximum I could hope for. Then I told myself, 'Continue Roger, because you don't know how to do anything else, everything that comes after consider it as a bonus'," Federer says. And today, when he wins a tournament, when he finds himself on the highest step of the podium, he is not afraid to show his emotions.
"There are people who when they win do not smile. And there are people who, after winning, do not stop smiling for weeks. I am the kind of person who lets tears flow. I let them fall because I think back to when that coach told me that I would not go ahead in tennis.
I think about those moments, I think about how many sacrifices I made to get to the top. But I have to thank him, because especially in the first years of my career, he gave me the stimulus to go ahead. He gave me the inner strength to show the world who I could be," Federer concludes.
These words of Federer are for me a continuous source of inspiration. When I find myself facing an obstacle, when I feel that things are not going as I would like, I think of him, of his journey, of his difficulties, and I find the strength to go on, to not give up, to believe in myself.
And this is the greatest lesson that tennis, and Federer in particular, have taught me: never let yourself be brought down, always fight to achieve your goals, and believe in yourself, always and anyway.