Roger Federer punches air in delight at Wimbledon 2019

Roger Federer says “Wimbledon will always be my favourite” in verdict on his 8 titles and more

Roger Federer gives his verdict on his record eight titles, on the Centre Court crowd, on playing in all-white kit, on his Wimbledon towel collection – and the day he lunched with the Queen


What makes Wimbledon special

“Wimbledon was always my favourite tournament, will always be my favourite tournament. My heroes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here. Because of them, I think I became a better player.”

On Centre Court

“I wish I could play every match of the season here on Centre Court.”

Why the Centre Court crowd is unique

“Every time you come back and play at Wimbledon on Centre Court, you warm up and all you hear is the sound of the ball, your movement, your breathing, because people are so quiet. They really only applaud for good shots. They never applaud for unforced errors. It’s just a very respectful crowd. It’s such a totally different feel to anywhere else in the world.”

On Wimbledon’s all-white rule

“I think it would be nice to add a splash of colour, let’s just be honest for a second here. But I understand that traditions are the way they are. I know that Phil Brook, the chairman right now, believes in strict tradition, going back to the Fifties and Sixties. I get it. Back in the day, Borg and McEnroe walked out in red outfits. I’m not saying that should happen again, but maybe it would be nice if we mixed it up a little bit more.”

On Wimbledon’s curfew under the retractable roofs

“I think 11pm is late enough. I don’t think Wimbledon should be having night sessions. It’s an outdoor, day tournament.”

Why grass is his most successful surface

“Maybe it’s because it helps my slice. Maybe the footwork on grass comes easier to me than for other guys. I’m not sure. Then because I have a decent speed on the serve, and I can serve kick and slice. Maybe also the grass helps me just a little bit to get a few more free points. I think I have good balance. I rarely slip. I rarely fall down or lose my balance in general. On grass it’s the same.”

On being asked (in 2006) about Wimbledon towels

“I take a few. I have a big collection, stacked up back home. It’s a good gift. We only get to get them on the courts and not in the locker room. I guess that’s why if they would give them away in the locker room too there would very quickly be none left.”

His memories of playing at Wimbledon as a junior

“I remember sleeping in a dorm at Roehampton. It was a fun thing to do. In a way it felt like a little Davis Cup team. Then once you play Roehampton and you got here for the second week of Wimbledon, these are the moments you dream about, rubbing shoulders with the best players. I had a blast in juniors.”

On his first match at Wimbledon as a junior in 1998 and his first in the main draw the following year

“I was very nervous going into my junior first round. I remember after the warm-up I was going up to the umpire telling him ‘I think the net is too high’, because I was so nervous. I felt like the net was double the height. He actually went down and checked it. The net was, of course, accurate, so I kept on playing and won my match. I was so nervous then.

“When I came back the following year I got a wild card [into the main draw], which of course was very nice for The Championships to give me. I played on the back court right behind court No 2 and lost in five sets to Jiri Novak.  I played a pretty good match. I don’t remember being particularly nervous about it. I actually thought I would have a good chance because grass was supposed to all of a sudden be my favourite surface after winning the juniors. I wasn’t even that disappointed afterwards because I played a good match and he was a tough opponent to have in the first round.”

On his first Centre Court appearance, when he beat Pete Sampras in the fourth round in 2001

“I had cold hands and my pulse was racing. Disbelief that I was actually playing my hero, but also being on Centre Court for the first time. My head was spinning. But it took me a couple of games and I was in it.”

On whether he could ever have imagined winning eight Wimbledon titles after he beat Sampras in 2001

“No, I didn’t think I was going to be this successful after beating Pete here. I hoped to have a chance maybe one day to be in a Wimbledon final and have a chance to win the tournament. Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for, in my opinion. If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and coaches who push you from the age of three onwards, who think you’re like a project. I was not that kid. I was just really a normal guy growing up in Basel, hoping to make a career on the tennis tour.”

On when it sank in after the 2003 final that he had won his first Wimbledon title
“Of course, you realise what you have achieved right away. But you speak to all the people and you cannot still believe it. It goes on and on and on and you never know when it stops because everybody asks you: ‘How is it? How was it? How does it feel? Tell us a little bit about it.’ But for me I think when I shook hands with my opponent and the umpire and sat down in the chair was the moment when I could not control my emotions any more and realised this was reality.”

Asked in 2004 whether he had watched a video of his first Wimbledon title victory the previous year
“Many times. It’s important to live through those moments again and to see how it really felt. It’s definitely a tape I want to keep for ever.”

Talking in 2007 about his long-term ambitions

“My big goal is still to be coming back here in 2012, playing the Olympics here at Wimbledon. That is still a long way away. Then, after that, we’ll see where my health takes me.”

On how he feels when being watched by celebrities in the crowd

“Back in the day, I was nervous playing in front of my family, then in front of famous people, then in front of famous sports people, famous tennis players. Today the only thing that still gets me nervous is when I see legends of our sport sitting watching my match. When I see them watching, I feel: ‘I’d better play well.’ You don’t want to disappoint legends of our sport.”

On being asked in 2008 whether it had been “disrespectful” to schedule Venus Williams on Court 2

“Pete [Sampras] played on Court 2 after winning seven titles here. Who deserves what here? It’s the club that decides in the end. We’re happy to be playing here. They can put us at Aorangi or Roehampton if they want to, but we have to accept the fact. I hope that day will not come for me, that I will have to play on Court 2. I understand there’s a little bit of disappointment maybe, but I don’t think it has anything to do with disrespect. I don’t think that’s what this tournament is all about.”

Looking back on his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the epic final of 2008

“It was one of the hardest losses I ever had, no doubt about it. I was so close to making it six [Wimbledon titles] in a row. It was a great match for many reasons. It also potentially made me more human, the loss under those circumstances. But it was a great match to be part of. Rafa and I go back in time. I’m sure that we’ll talk about it when we’re older and in our rocking chairs.”

On Sampras’ haul of seven Wimbledon titles

“Everybody knows what a hero he is to me and how much I admire what he’s been able to achieve in tennis.  I don’t think he ever lost a Grand Slam final here at Wimbledon.  He won seven out of seven, which is just incredible, particularly in the times he played against all these big servers, when things were a bit more unpredictable.”

After beating Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam titles with his victory over Andy Roddick in the 2009 final

“I’m happy I broke the record here in some ways because this is always the tournament that’s meant the most to me because my heroes and idols were so successful here. It definitely feels like it’s come full circle. I know how much the record meant to Pete and he knows how much the record means to me. In a way, I still feel like we share it because he was such a wonderful champion.”

On sitting next to the Queen at lunch during Wimbledon in 2010

“She was very friendly, very relaxed. You could tell she’s done this a million times. She made everybody feel very special at the table, one of those things you’ll never forget.”

… and whether she talked about his first-round match

“She said I should hit more backhands down the line [laughing].  No, she didn’t go into details.”

After beating Andy Murray in the 2012 final – and sympathising with the Scot over his post-match tears

“I told him: ‘It’s supposed to be easier, this part, than playing the match.’ It’s hard. I’ve been there as well.  I think he’s done so, so well, because I see him every day, what he goes through on a daily basis on tour. At Wimbledon I think he handles it so perfectly.  I think he’s giving himself so many looks at big titles.  I really do believe deep down in me he will win Grand Slams, not just one.”

… and after losing to Murray in the 2012 Olympic final on Centre Court the following month

“Andy was much better than I was today in many aspects of the game. For me, it’s been a great month.  I won Wimbledon, became world No 1 again and I got silver.  I am honestly very, very proud to have won a silver.”

On meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 final
“I wasn’t in a great state.  I was unbelievably sad at that moment just when I left the court. I think it was a difficult moment for the three of us. But they were very sweet to comfort me and wish me well.”

His verdict on the extra week following the French Open after Wimbledon moved back in the calendar in 2015

“It’s changed everything.  You might think that a week is not a lot, but a week is so much for us players.  The good thing is you can heal problems you might have carried over from the French rather than take chances right away running on to the grass, or not playing a warm-up event.”

On Britain’s Marcus Willis, the world No 772, walking out on Centre Court ahead of him before their match in 2016

“I wanted the cooler experience for him. I don’t know what the cooler experience was, if it’s walking ahead of me or behind me, going out first on Centre Court or not. I thought it was cool that he got out first because it’s his moment, in my opinion. I wanted him to have a great time.”

What motivates him at Wimbledon each year

“Maybe the losses hurt more. You don’t want to be on the loser’s side. It motivates me to do extremely well here because I don’t want to sit here and explain my loss. That’s the worst feeling you can have as a tennis player. But, no, honestly I think I just love being around here. It’s a good vibe.”

On whether he could still play Wimbledon at 40
“You would think so, health permitting and if everything is OK. You could take 300 days off beforehand, just prepare for Wimbledon, put yourself in a freeze box, then come out and train a bit, knowing you’re not going to be injured. But playing Wimbledon and winning Wimbledon are two separate things. At some stage you have to play a minimum of matches, otherwise you’re just not going to be successful any more.”

On whether he felt he had “unfinished business” at Wimbledon following his defeat to Kevin Anderson in last year’s quarter-finals

“I wouldn’t call it ‘unfinished business’. I felt like I did some good business here in the past already.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.