Editorial: Serve And Volley

Roger Federer’s universal appeal has lot to do with his model conduct, on and off the court

A bunch of young entrepreneurs and MNC executives, and their wives/girlfriends, had gathered for a Sunday brunch in a Chattarpur farm. Halfway through, a majority got up to leave—they had another  appointment that none of them wanted to miss; Roger Federer playing in India for the first time. Thanks to the new ITPL format, a host of tennis stars, past and present, are taking part in a four-city tour which touched down in Delhi over the weekend. They include world number one Novak Djokovic, and other big names, including tennis great Pete Sampras, but Federer was the one who got the most cheers and attracted the biggest crowds, some who had come from cities like Bangalore and Pune just to see him in the flesh.

Rarely does a sportsman transcend his sport, but Federer has; his presence seems to add a certain aura to any event he is at. It is not just his effortless style of play, but the way he carries himself, on and off the court, with grace and elegance, ever polite and even humble. These days, sportsmen seem to revel in controversy but Federer has been the perfect role model, never anything remotely questionable in his life or the game. We have had Sachin Tendulkar, who comes the closest except that cricket is a sport limited to a handful of countries while tennis is a global sport, and Federer a global name. What he leaves behind is not just records and Grand Slam Titles but an example for every sportsperson to follow.

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