2006. My first-ever memory of watching you play. It was a Wimbledon final against Nadal.
I was staring at a 24-year-old star who already had 7 grand slams in his kitty. A ball boy who had worked hard to earn et al.
Tennis for me, since then, has been synonymous with your name,
I realised back then that ‘perfect’, was a word too small to describe your game.
The numbers kept growing. 7 became 17.
But you didn’t lose sheen.
You became the idol, you became the GOAT,
You became a legend that didn’t shy away when he wanted to emote.
You are mocked at for your tears but they push us to relate to you more,
They show how much each match matters to you and why you’ll probably be the only legend I’ll gush about and adore,
They make you vulnerable and human, and one of us – not just a celeb who stands on a pedestal.
Seven summers later, in 2013, you were down with injury. You dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in 14 years,
You were finding it hard to match up to your peers,
Critics began to write you off, they said 32 was a good age to hang up your boots. They said it was time for you to call it a day,
Slams, they said, wouldn’t anymore be your forte.
They began to bid you goodbye, but you didn’t care,
You simply chose to hang in there,
You stumbled, you fell,
Yet, you rose with grace every single time, and had the world again under your spell.
You bounced back in 2017, and how,
At 36, you scourged every raised eyebrow,
You became the oldest man to win a slam, to be crowned world number 1,
You showed the world why tennis will always be your jam, why you won’t let yourself be easily outrun.
You made the world run short of superlatives, you made words fail critics. When people put you on the back burner,
you came back stronger,
You proved to them that age, is just another number.
You won your first slam when you were 21, and today, at 38, you hold 20;
When you played the men’s longest final in Wimbledon’s history earlier this year, at 37, for three minutes short of five hours – the world still got only a glimpse of your agility.
The backhand, the dropshot, the perfect slice,
The serves, so impeccably precise —
Watching you play, Federer, is a treat for the eyes.
You defy full stops. You teach me to look beyond pitfalls and barriers,
You give me reason to believe, to stay undaunted, to keep going, to forge new forevers.
Tennis would never mean the same to me once you retire,
So, here’s wishing you a score more slams, inexplicable fun, and inexhaustible fire.
Stay eternal, Roger!
Always your loudest cheerleader,