Opinion Piece. Roger Federer: when “youth has no age”

Last weekend, Roger Federer made history and won his eighth Wimbledon trophy. A day to remember for the Swiss player, while facing criticism about a so-called retirement.

“Youth has no age” once quoted Pablo Picasso. It sounds like the citation hasn’t aged a day, looking back at Roger Federer’s incredible 2017 season. Winning his eighth Wimbledon at the age of 35 (almost 36, next August), the Swiss has become the most successful man in the tournament singles history. Oh, and not to mention he’s the oldest man to win Wimbledon since the Open era began in 1968… Chapeau!

Though, I could read the next day in some blinded and senseless newspapers that he should start thinking of his retirement, in order to leave the courts to younger players. I’m sorry… but what? I strangled while drinking my first coffee of the day – and imagine if I wasn’t a morning person.

Since when should older tennis players think about the others’ success? It’s tennis we’re talking about. Isn’t it what a legend is made of? Working out and giving your best on the court is what makes a good player become an icon. It’s been fourteen years since he won his first major trophy. After such a long period of time, Federer truly demonstrated that even after an admirable career made of as many successes as injuries, he’s still in amazing shape to beat a 28-year-old Marin Cilic – with a disconcerting ease.

“When you’re good at something, make it everything”. Roger Federer

It’s all about sport and competition – it’s always been this way. As a young player, how can you possibly measure yourself if all the good ones desert? Imagine the satisfaction to play against your idol, just like David Goffin did when he took the first set to his hero Roger at Roland Garros in 2012. Well, it sounds like the young Belgian player learnt from that unexpected experience, since he reached Top 10 in the ATP ranking this year. There’s always room for improvement, and that’s exactly where they’ll find it.

Federer, Wimbledon, 2009. Credit: Justin Smith
Federer, Wimbledon, 2009. Credit: Justin Smith

So, to all of those trying to suggest a quick retirement, be sure he’s not ready yet to be kick out of the game. There’s still work to be done. To those who think that Roger should step aside and give the opportunity to the youngest, you’re looking in the wrong direction. The point isn’t to take his place, but to play him. Remember this sometimes: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure”, once said Colin Powell.

Le maître is one of the best players of his generation and he’s pretty unbeatable when he’s at his best level. Nowadays, many young players are trying make a place their own under the tennis spotlight: Alexander Zverev (20), Dominic Thiem (23), Lucas Pouille (23)… If they’re good enough, they’ll beat Federer – that’s it. This is what competition is made of. This is what people want to see, why they love tennis: watching talented and passionate players (young or old, who cares?) giving their best on the court.

Over the years, Roger has been acclaimed by many of his competitors. He now inspires respect. “I can cry like Roger, it’s just a shame I can’t play like him”, once said Andy Murray, after losing the Australian Open 2010 final. His wisdom and humility should be a source of inspiration. The key of his successful comeback and his inimitable career is to have been able to make the right choices at the right time – for example not playing Roland Garros 2017, in order to be at his best level for Wimbledon. We’ll probably have to wait another century before another player gets the same stamina.

Just like a Phoenix, he’s reborn from his ashes. Who knows which next trophy he’ll brandish? I guess Wimbledon will be no exception: “The goal is definitely to be here again next year” he said. Well, Roger, thank you. We’ll certainly be more to expect your nineth Wimbledon next July than your final Hurrah!


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