There are few superlatives that haven't been used to describe Roger Federer. 'The greatest of all time' (New York Times), 'greatest athlete of his generation' (USA today), 'Superhuman' (Guardian)… The list goes on. There's no doubt he has transcended tennis to become a true icon of his era. An idol to a generation.
Winning 20 Grand Slams, over 100 ATP tour titles and spending the best part of 6 years as the world number one will do that to you. But this success belies the real story behind his incredible achievements. The story of the young Swiss boy who lost his first match 6-0, 6-0, the teenager who struggled to control his temper as he missed his family, the 19 year old who saw his peers start winning grand slams before him, the champion who feels heartache and defeat like all others before him.
Becoming the best was never pre-determined. Federer wasn't born a champion. Like all up and coming young players, he started out as a qualifier, playing out on court 23. He worked his way up, with a level of dedication and determination seldom seen in any sport. He never skipped a practice session. If he was jet lagged. He played. If he was sick. He played. If he was injured. He played. When he lost, he got back up, figured out why, and came back harder than ever.
Roger Federer has won everything there is to win in the sport. But it's not just his ability to win tennis matches that has made him the fans' favourite for almost 20 years in a row. It's his humility. His respect for others. His unwavering devotion to the sport he loves. Whilst others may surpass his records, it's likely that he will always be remembered as the definitive tennis champion.