While much of the media and sports enthusiasts are obsessively trying to predict when Roger Federer will retire, the tennis god seems to be floating on a cloud of unwavering confidence. In the midst of the Miami Open, he was calm, focused and simply savoring the moment.
Federer, 35, was all smiles and charm during Moët & Chandon’s cocktail party, held in his honor as the company’s global ambassador. Still basking in the glory of his incredible comeback this year, after beating Stan Wawrinka and winning Indian Wells last Sunday (for a fifth time) and the thrilling victory against Rafael Nadal in Australia in January, which crowned him with his 18th Grand Slam title, Federer was almost childishly innocent when describing his mood ahead of his first Miami Open match since 2014.
“I’m feeling really good,’’ he said, from the 40th floor of the East hotel in Miami. “I love Miami, there is this incredible energy here, with lots of people who want to see me play and who want me to do well.”
The Swiss-born star is also making time for fashion. During his down time away from practice in Miami, Federer has been working on his long-running collaboration with Nike. He picked samples for the U.S. Open 2018 on-court styles, and was in a photo shoot the morning of March 22 for his NikeLab collaboration, in which he is the designer.
“I really enjoy the off-court design work because I can really be creative and think about style,” he said. “For the on-court collections, it’s really all about performance: the clothes are made considering sweat, rain, heat. It’s fun, but I don’t have a whole lot of room to go crazy.”
The public has taken notice: the tennis legend beat Kanye West and Ryan Gosling and was voted the Most Stylish Man of 2016 in GQ’s competition. GQ described him as a “quietly elegant tennis pro’’ and “a guy who opts for subtlety over flash.’’
He is clearly a pro in his style influencer roles, but Federer said he derives the most joy and fulfillment from his work with early childhood education at the Roger Federer Foundation. The Zurich-based organization was founded in 2003 and partners with organizations in southern Africa and in Switzerland that focus on education projects for children living in poverty.
“I personally wanted to do something that would be long lasting and significant. When I started to make money, I was approached by several organizations who wanted me to fund projects. But I wanted to be involved and take responsibility for my work as a philanthropist,” he said. “I always believed in the potential of people and especially kids, and what we do at the foundation, through our partners, is to empower them to work hard and improve their situation.’’
His South African roots (his mother is from Kempton Park, near Johannesburg) exposed him early on to the challenges that children face in some of the poorest countries in the world. “Education is something that nobody can take away from you,” he said.
As much as Federer seems uninterested in speculation about an exit strategy from tennis, he said he often thinks about his legacy. “I want to be good for the game, for as long as I can. When I stop playing I will probably be involved somehow,” he said. “In what form, I don’t know.”