A few days ago, tennis legend Roger Federer announced that he would be bidding his competitive career goodbye. After 20 Grand Slam titles, 1,526 matches, and over 24 years in the sport, it marks the end of an era.
But even though we may no longer be seeing the Swiss champion on the Grand Slam stage anymore, his legacy is sure to live on. He may be part of tennis’ elite ’Big Three’, but he has separated himself from the pack in more ways than one.
Here are five things you may not have known about the incredible Roger Federer.
#1: He was the first Swiss to become a Grand Slam champion.
Roger Federer earned his first Grand Slam win in 2000 at the Australian Open when he beat Michael Chang in the first round of the tournament. His first ever title would come three years later.
In the 2003 Wimbledon Championships, the Swiss went on to beat Mark Philippoussis to win his first Grand Slam title. This started a four-year Wimbledon streak for Federer. But apart from that, it also marked a first for his country.
With the win, Roger Federer became the first Swiss to ever win an Open era Grand Slam title.
Sound familiar at all? (Hint: We’re referring to Alex Eala)
#2: 8 is his lucky number.
Many, if not most athletes are superstitious. Maybe as a fan, you can be that way too. And though Roger Federer says he isn’t superstitious, people have recognized some habits that might say otherwise.
While not as obvious as rival Rafael Nadal’s bottle turning and face touching, the Swiss’ lucky number slips into his own habits as well. He serves eight aces before starting a match. He’ll have eight bottles of water with him on the court. He carries eight rackets with him too.
If it gets you to 20 Grand Slams, why not right?
And guess how many Wimbledon wins he has?
#3: Federer and Wimbledon are a match made in heaven.
Roger Federer is the King of Wimbledon. Not only did he win his first major title at Wimbledon, but he’s also the male player who holds the most titles in the tournament.
The Swiss has won the championship at Wimbledon eight times.
In comparison, he won the Australian Open six times, Roland Garros once, and the US Open five times. Undoubtedly, Federer was at his best when playing on the green. In fact, between 2003 to 2008, he won 65 consecutive matches played on grass.
Federer’s own personal tennis idol, Pete Sampras, sits behind him in second with seven titles.
#4: He has competed in over 30 Grand Slam Finals.
While Novak Djokovic has been to the most Grand Slam Finals, with 32 appearances, Roger Federer is not behind by much. The Swiss champion has competed in 31.
In fact, Federer has been to so many finals that he holds the record for the longes streak of consecutive Grand Slam Finals appearances. He’s the only men’s singles player to reach 10 finals in a row. This streak lasted from the 2005 Wimbledon Championships until the 2008 Australian Open.
His last Grand Slam Final appearance was at the 2019 Wimbledon, where Djokovic defeated the king of the tournament in a heated tie-breaker.
#5: He became the oldest player to be ranked in number one.
In 2004, when he was only 22 years old, Roger Federer became the world number one tennis player. 14 years later, he again went back to the top spot, becoming the world’s oldest number one player.
He was 36 years old.
At the time, the two other members of tennis’ ’Big Three’, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were also playing at their best. Yet, Federer was still keeping himself a step above.
#6: He’s won (a lot more than) majority of his matches.
In the letter he wrote and published to announce his retirement, he mentioned that he competed in over 1,500 matches. To be exact, he actually played 1,526, not including the matches he is set to play in his final appearance at the Laver Cup next week.
Out of those 1,526 matches, he won 1,251 of them. That’s just a fraction away from an 82% win rate.
Here’s hoping he gets to add to an already high number at the Laver Cup.
#7: He’s won $131 million in prize money.
In Federer’s letter, he wrote, “Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Indeed, tennis has treated the 20-time Grand Slam champion very generously. Throughout the 24 years he has been in the sport, he has earned $131 million in prize money. This is equivalent to around over PHP 7,000,000,000.
And that’s just prize money. If you include his endorsements and appearance fees, he may have well over $1,000,000,000.
#8: He’ll always be a ballboy at heart.
Around three years ago, a very old video of Roger Federer went viral after Tennis TV showed it to him.
In the video, Roger Federer himself is seen working as a ball boy in Basel, Switzerland. Here, he is given a medal by the professional German player, Michael Stich. But what’s even more heartwarming is that he still has his medals from his ballboy days.
“I still have them, and I still get today, from ball girls and ball boys, and I have pizza with them at the end of the tournament. They also give me a medal. I guess it means I’m still a ball boy too because at heart, I will always be a ball boy,” he told Tennis TV.
Looking back at where he started and seeing all the incredible feats he has achieved in his lifetime—it’s more than enough to impress anyone.
Roger Federer will go down in history as one of the greatest athletes of all time without a shadow of a doubt. And though we are sad to see him go, we are equally as grateful that we got the opportunity to witness greatness like his.