Roger Federer - A humble champion

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Roger Federer - A humble champion

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Rohit George

07/17/2017

Humility is a virtue of the strong and not a vice of the weak. But having said this, how an individual deals with success will always be the true test of one's humility. And though remaining down to earth amid the highs and lows may seem like a tough task, Roger Federer has shown us the way.

They say success and failure are two sides of the same coin, yet, it’s incredible how both these two experiences bring out contrasting reactions from individuals, especially sportspersons. While it can be argued that one of the biggest lessons you get from sport is to treat both success and failure in the same way, in reality, this is seldom the case. 

Having said this, there are essentially only two ways in which success impacts individuals, particularly sportspersons. It either adds to their arrogance or it adds to their humility about their abilities and achievements. While there is no denying that keeping one’s feet on the ground is easier said than done, it isn’t all that difficult either. And there’s no one who has proven this point better than Roger Federer

Even as the watching world was still coming to terms with the way in which Federer outclassed Cilic yesterday, to become the first man to claim the eighth Wimbledon title, Federer told a media conference, “Honestly I'm incredibly surprised how well this year is going, how well I'm feeling. As well, how things are turning out to be on the courts, how I'm managing tougher situations, where my level of play is on a daily basis. I am surprised that it's this good.” 

And while this may seem like another act of modesty on part of the 35-year-old, it really isn’t. In fact, in a way, it could be said that Federer’s humility about his achievements can be just as mind boggling as his achievements themselves. Despite dominating the tennis circuit since the first time he stepped onto the court, at no point in his fabled career has Federer claimed to be greatest ever, despite being unanimously handed that title by the tennis fraternity and the fans alike. 

For the love of the game

As far as the reasons for such an attitude is concerned, there can possibly only be a few. Either Federer is not concerned about the numbers he has managed to rack up or, he simply wants to enjoy what remains of what has already been a phenomenal career. Or maybe, he wants to do both at the same time. But going by what the Swiss ace said following his latest triumph the last assumption seems to be the more likely case. Upon being asked his plans for his Wimbledon title defence next year, Federer, simply said, "I hope that I'm back, but there's never a guarantee, especially not at 35." 

On the other hand, Federer’s humble yet pragmatic approach to success may also have to do with the few failures he’s had to deal with in the past few years. Following his consecutive losses to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 Wimbledon finals, the man from Basel himself admitted to having had dealt with self-doubt as to whether he would win Wimbledon ever again. “I had some tough ones in the finals, losing two against Novak (Djokovic). But I always believed. I kept on believing and dreaming I could get back. Here am I today with the eighth. It’s fantastic if you keep believing you can go far in your life,” he said at the post-match conference.

A true champion

But make no mistake about Federer’s humility, it’s not that he does not merit the title of being the undisputed best. One can be rest assured of the fact that once Federer does decide to call it a day, we’ll never see anyone grace a tennis court with the kind of elegance that the Swiss does. It’s just that at this stage of his career, as he scripts one of most remarkable comebacks in sporting history, Federer could not care less about numbers (not that he has ever played for them anyway). In his own words, “I've not set my sights on a number of grand slams that I have to or want to achieve. I never had that. I was very content at 17 and then even happier at 18, happier still at 19. For me, it's about enjoying myself and staying healthy, and we'll see what happens. The target is to enjoy being Wimbledon champion for a year and Australian Open champion for a year.”

Further, it must be said that Roger Federer's story is an endearing tale of a driven individual who burst forth as a 21-year-old by winning his first Grand Slam at SW19 and now, as he picked up his 19th Grand Slam later it's extremely endearing to see that Federer hasn't been carried away by either the highs nor the lows of what has been a truly incredible journey. To conclude, it must be said that while Federer’s on court exploits make him the undisputed champion of tennis, his humility about his success makes him a true champion off the court as well. 

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