Random Forays | Farewell to Federer, an icon beyond tennis

Updated on Sep 25, 2022 01:10 AM IST

His great rivals, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, have been his worthy peers, each with a mountainous legacy of his own, but Federer has perhaps won more universal admiration than even them, over the years.

Yet, and tellingly so, it was his court coverage, his feline grace as he almost sailed across the court, whether to volley from the net or smash, but also caress, a groundstroke from the back of the court, which was supreme (AFP)
Yet, and tellingly so, it was his court coverage, his feline grace as he almost sailed across the court, whether to volley from the net or smash, but also caress, a groundstroke from the back of the court, which was supreme (AFP)
ByVivek Atray

When an iconic legend calls it a day, even the heavens seem to bow before his or her magnificence. Roger Federer announced his decision to hang up his competitive racquet, close on the heels of Serena Williams’ equally momentous curtain call on her glittering career.

FedEx, as he is popularly known, blazed a trail of such scintillating brilliance that he became an inseparable part of our hearts. Each of his glorious Grand Slam titles soothed our beings and made us jump unabashedly with sheer joy. And even when his body inevitably gave way to wear and tear, he managed to treat us to sporadic bursts of sparkling performances that embalmed our hearts and brought succour to our souls.

For he had become almost like a beloved for sports lovers across the globe, even if their first love happened to be soccer or cricket. The man’s sheer artistry on court and his elegant, charming and picture-perfect persona drew him closer to us, perhaps more than any other athlete in the modern era.

The sheer panache, verve, and style with which he would waltz his way to one Wimbledon title after another, would take our breaths away and would draw applause even from those whom he had vanquished.

Blessed with a flawless, piercing, pin-pointed service, a forehand that could match up to the power hitters and a lovely one-handed backhand, which often produced the most memorable of his winners, Federer’s craft was a state-of-the-art masterpiece that could induce ooohs and ahhhs by the plenty.

Yet, and tellingly so, it was his court coverage, his feline grace as he almost sailed across the court, whether to volley from the net or smash, but also caress, a groundstroke from the back of the court, which was supreme. His great rivals, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, have been his worthy peers, each with a mountainous legacy of his own, but Federer has perhaps won more universal admiration than even them, over the years.

During a recent interview he was asked if he rued the fact that his resilience and grit were not as much spoken about as his sheer talent, throughout the course of his career. His reply was in the affirmative, his tone wistful, but he also admitted that all the gushing accolades were most endearing to him as well.

The legacy of Federer goes way beyond his on-court feats. However, his presence upon the firmament of the sports lover’s cognisance was a constant that gave hope to the downcast and joy to cities, towns and villages of our world.

Ironically, though, his fans had been wishing, deep inside their hearts, a sun-kissed finale to his path-breaking career, perhaps on centre court at Wimbledon after a magnificent victory over Nadal or Djokovic, but that was not to be. His smile as well as his tears, of triumph and of despair, became a commingled aspect of our lives.

One of the most compelling qualities of the great man has been his humaneness and even his basket of frailties, which any human being is bound to possess. Yes, his heartbreaking defeats, particularly in the evening of his career, made us love him even more than his awe inspiring triumphs. And the fact that he is utterly a family man, adds even more to his aura.

Tributes have poured in from the greatest of sportspersons, currently active as well as retired, many of them emotional and fulsome in their praise of a fellow world beater.

No longer will the sound and sight of Federer on a big stage regale us. But in a world that dearly needs role models, true heroes and iconic presences, Roger Federer comes across as one whom we can hope to idolise, well after the last hurrah of his tennis journey has been bugled.

Farewell, dear Roger, but please don’t feel shy of basking in the glory of what you have attained. We, the fans, are destined to relive many moments of your brilliance over and over again, perhaps even more than you will. Stay the way you are and we will continue to adore you just as much as ever before.

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