Roger Federer is a tennis legend who says he owes a large part of his success to his fatherhood.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner who announced his resignation Earlier this month he became a father to twin girls Myla and Charlene, 13, and twin brothers Lenny and Leo, 8, with wife Mirka.
He says becoming a parent represented a shift in his approach, particularly when his daughters arrived when he hit a cold spell when it came to winning major tournaments.
“As you know, I have twin girls, Myla and Charlene. They were born in 2009, just after I became, I think it was world No. 1,” he told Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview on TODAY, Sept. 21.
“The girls were born and from that moment, in 2010 and 2011, I didn’t win a slam. I remember changing diapers, bathing the girls and just being a dad. But then, of course, when the boys were born, that shook the boat because hitting the streets every week with four kids was difficult, to say the least. And from perhaps being dominant, I became a challenger. And I liked that role too. I actually stayed hungry the whole time.”
When Savannah suggested that not all athletes would insist on taking their family to the streets, Federer said it was a no-brainer.
“Oh, that was the only way,” he said. “I said, ‘I would never walk the streets without my kids.’ And then I’d rather retire, because then I should have retired 10 years ago.”
Federer will leave professional tennis as one of the game’s most dynamic players, but he had to grow into the role, giving credit to his own parents for his upbringing while also allowing him to mature.
“I think they had a good balance and I must have loved the game too,” he said. “They just didn’t like it when they went to tennis tournaments at the weekend and I was acting like a brat on the court and yelling and yelling and commenting and throwing racquets and being unprofessional and not having my drinks ready or whatever. ”
“My whole generation of friends, we were all the same. We were all insanely crazy back then,” he added.
Federer’s decision to retire will also end his rivalry with other greats on the pitch, including Rafael Nadal. That rivalry eventually gave way to admiration and friendship, which Federer attributes to respect for one another and their families.
“I think both families respect each other very much, my parents, his parents,” Federer said. “Both teams, yes, it got heated and at certain moments it was intense. Of course you get a bit excited sometimes but I think overall we’ve always been able to keep cool, always me and Rafa.” through.”
Federer, who has prevailed against Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi as a professional and is expected to play one final time at the Laver Cup in London from September 23, hopes he has made the game proud.
“I feel like we pushed tennis in the right direction,” he said. “And I think I did it my way. I’ve always stayed true to myself and people always seemed to love to watch me play, which I guess is the ultimate compliment.”