You'd think the security at Wimbledon might recognise arguably the most famous face in the sport - not so according to Roger Federer. The 20-time grand slam champion says he had to remind officials outside the famous venue of the eight grand slam titles he won at the famous All England Club before he was allowed in.
Federer, who announced his retirement from the sport earlier this year and was farewelled in moving scenes at the Laver Cup, told the amusing tale of being denied entry to Wimbledon after forgetting to bring along his membership card. The 41-year-old was appearing on The Daily Show when he regaled host Trevor Noah with the story.
Visiting London for a doctor's appointment in city, Federer said he decided to visit Wimbledon with a few hours he had to spare in between appointments. Amazingly, Federer said the visit two weeks ago was the first time he's visited Wimbledon outside of the grand slam tournament.
Security evidently remains tight even when outside of the grand slam. Wimbledon winners are automatically granted life membership to the club, but the first staff member Federer encountered astonishingly didn't recognise the tennis icon.
“I drive up to the gate where usually guests would come in. So I get out, and I tell my coach who was with me, ‘I’ll quickly go out and speak to the security lady. I got this,’” he recalls.
“So then I get out and I’m like, ‘Hello I was wondering how I could get into Wimbledon?’ She asked if I had a membership card. When you win Wimbledon, you become a member automatically. And honestly I don’t know about membership cards, they are probably at home somewhere and I’ve just been travelling so I had no idea.
"I told her, ‘No I don’t have my membership card, but I am a member. I’m just wondering where I can get in'. I’m like, ‘No, I am a member and normally when I’m here, I’m playing. And now it’s the first time the tournament is not on and I’m here.’ I look at her in a panic one last time, and say, ‘I’m so sorry but I have won this tournament eight times, please, believe me, I am a member."
Roger Federer amusingly turned away from Wimbledon
Despite this, Federer was still turned down. Fortunately, a second go at a different entrance yielded perhaps a more expected result - though Federer was still quizzed as to where his membership card was.
“The security guard standing there says, ‘Oh my god, Mr. Federer what are you doing here? Do you have your membership card? I said I don’t, but the security guard let me in and organised it all," Federer said. He quipped that he had considered venturing back to his first port of call, but ultimately decided against bothering the initial security guard again.
Federer joined the Wimbledon chairman for an impromptu cup of tea and a chat for roughly an hour before it was time for him to move on.
It comes after longtime rival and close friend Rafael Nadal hinted he and Federer could link up to play an exhibition match in South America next year. The pair have played a number of crowd-pleasing exhibitions over the year, however both players' health could have the final say in their availability.
Nadal has been taking part in an end-of-year South American exhibition tour with World No.3 Casper Ruud. The pair have created enormous hype during the tour, which also saw Nadal team up with 80s and 90s tennis icon Garbiela Sabatini. In his latest stretch of the tour in Colombia, Nadal was handed the microphone as he addressed the excited Bogota crowd.
Following the latest match against Ruud, Nadal talked about the recent retirement of his friend Federer who he claimed was: “A good partner for a few years, perhaps the greatest rival of my sports career”.
And in an unprompted move, Nadal claimed Federer and himself could return to Colombia for an event. “He always told me about the great disappointment and sadness that this caused him," Nadal said. "And honestly, from here, I say that I am confident that in the future I can be here with him, playing a game in front of all of us.”
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